How to Teach Children to Ride Bikes
Riding a bike is fun and useful skill throughout life. It's not as hard and with a little practice almost anyone can do it.
You probably learned ages ago, and now it's time to teach your child to do it as well. However, most parents usually dread it out of fear of their child possibly getting hurt when they’re trying to learn.
Luckily, there are a few methods you can use to teach your kid to ride a bike. Some need time, while others are effective in a single afternoon. Still, all kids are different, so how they progress will depend on the individual child.
When Should You Start Teaching Your Child To Ride a Bike?
Most people agree that you should start only when your child shows an interest in riding a bike. There are many small bikes, tricycles, and bikes with training wheels so you can introduce this to your kid as early as at the age of three.
However, studies showed that there’s a higher risk of getting hurt and possible injuires when kids start this young versus those who first started at the age of 6 or 7.
At the age of 6 years old, your child already has a good sense of balance and space around him/her. For this reason, you most probably won’t have to use training wheels or spend a lot of time focusing on practicing balance.
You should still use your best judgment and, if the child is very young, simply be more careful as you practice together.
Does Your Child Actually Want to Learn to Ride a Bike?
Parents often force their children into riding a bike because it’s something they think kids should know. However, if the child is clearly scared to do it or simply doesn’t want to, it’s best you leave it for later.
It’s essential that your little one cares about this more than you. Pushing this onto your kid can have negative effects, and he/she might grow to hate cycling.
This should be a fun activity above all, so it’s best to give up on it if your little one doesn’t see it as such. Kids tend to be scared at a very young age, so even if they show no interest in getting on a bike now, it doesn’t mean they won’t want to do it later.
Consider Training Wheels
If you notice the child lacks the confidence or simply needs more help with balance, you should consider training wheels. Many people try to avoid these for fear that their kid might be teased, but in reality, there’s no shame here.
These are helpful and will help your kid get used to the feeling a lot quicker. Sometimes, kids are just too scared to relax, and because of that, they struggle to learn how to ride. Training wheels can be the helping hand that allows your child to relax and enjoy the process.
In most cases, kids need only a few hours to adapt riding without them once you take them off.
Find The Right Bike
The most important thing is that you pick the right size. Don’t buy a bigger one thinking your kid will grow into it because you’ll only make matters worse. A big bicycle will be too hard for your child to control.
Measure the height of your little one to make sure you get the best bike size. A 12” wheel works great for kids that are 28” to 38” tall. For kids that are 38” to 48”, the best is a bike with 16” wheels.
Taller kids that are 42” to 52” can ride 18” wheels, while those that range from 48” to 60” will do well with a 20” wheel diameter.
Don’t Forget The Safety Equipment
In those first days of learning how to ride, you want to make sure your child is as safe as possible. Protecting the head, elbows, and knees is crucial.
Get a helmet that sits level across the middle of the forehead. If it sits high or moves around, you have to adjust it. Make sure it’s the right size because a tight helmet is quite uncomfortable while a big one has no point at all.
Teach The Child How To Stop
Before you teach them anything, you first have to teach your children how to stop the bike. Show them the brakes and how they work. It’s essential that kids understand this before they start riding, so they don’t have second thoughts about what to do in a critical situation.
Explain what the brakes are and when they should use them. Knowing when and how to stop the bike increases confidence and minimizes chances of accidents.
Teach The Child How To Balance
You may have heard of balance bikes. Those are good, but there’s a way to do without them especially since they can be a bit pricey.
You can simply take the pedals off the bike and lower the seat so his/her feet can touch the ground. Let your kids glide around the yard or driveway. If they lose balance, they’ll have their feet to rely on. It’s a simple method, and it saves you money on that balance bike.
Plus, kids learn how to ride in a short time after you put the pedals back on.
Find The Best Location
In the beginning, you should practice alone and away from any distractions. You want the kid to be comfortable and in no way embarrassed. For this reason, it’s best to avoid the park or school where you could run into some of his/her friends.
This could be a distraction while the child is still not skilled enough. As he/she progresses, you can move from your yard and to the street.
While it might seem fun to have the kid learn along with other children in the street, it’s not such a great idea. As we said, all of the friends could actually be a terrible distraction.
Be The Leader
It might be easier for your little one to learn by watching you do it. Get on your bike and show how it’s done. Make sure you’re also wearing your safety equipment even if you might not actually wear it on a regular basis.
Take it slow and make big turns. Set a route and make sure your kid is following along. It’s a good idea to have a slowness race as a balance practice. Compete to see who can be the last to put their feet on the ground.
It’s essential you don’t focus on any mistakes but reinforce success. Also, teach the child when it might be time to take a little rest.
Again, make sure to give the child some space and stay awbikeay from the crowd. While it might seem like a good idea to do this as a family, you don’t want to distract him/her with many people.
Only once you notice their skills have advanced, you can start riding as a family around the neighborhood.
What if My Child is Still Scared?
Even if kids show interest in riding a bike, they can often feel quite scared throughout the learning process. This is where you want to step up your game and do as much as you can to make the little one comfortable and confident.
Make sure you’ve explained how brakes work and what they’re for. Explain what they provide and how you can rely on them. Another thing that can help is to explain all the safety equipment. Tell your child about the helmet and how it helps with security.
It’s also crucial to explain all the basic traffic rules since some extra knowledge can provide quite a lot of confidence. Also, give it some time as all children are different and some may require more time or less time then others to learn this skill.
* Video credit to all respective owners