Learning to ride a bike is a significant milestone for every child. It is more than just a fun activity for your kid, as it provides a fulfilling sense of accomplishment once the child gets to ride a two-wheeler on their own.
Some children will learn to ride in an hour. Others will need several sessions to loosen up and master all of the skills needed to ride the bike. You shouldn’t let it worry you, as it’s perfectly fine either way.
Encourage your little one and give them the boost they need to gain the confidence they might be lacking at the moment. Reinforce their accomplishment, no matter how small it might be.
Also, take care to be patient at all times. Listen to your child carefully, and try to understand their needs and what works for them.
As long as your child is showing interest and feels comfortable giving it a whirl, here is how you can approach teaching this important life skill.
The Right Timing
This is the tricky part – the age when your child is ready to learn to ride a bike will depend on their physical and mental development, as well as their coordination. One of the most important things to take into consideration is the child’s interest.
If you feel your kid can cycle, but they still don’t want to give it a go, wait until they are emotionally ready.
Many kids can learn how to bike when they are as young as four years old – they usually have the required strength, dexterity, balance, and can understand the basic commands. However, some kids are not physically and emotionally prepared to cycle until they are six or even older.
Pushing your child into this activity may lead to anxiety, resentfulness, or other undesired outcomes, such as a higher percentage of injuries.
Balance bikes can be of great help if your child isn’t strong enough to pedal since they will allow them to get a sense of balancing and coasting.
Find a Bike That Fits Your Child
If your kid can stand over the top tube with both feet flat on the ground while their legs are straight, then the bike fits properly. Also, check the distance from the bike seat to the handlebars. The child shouldn’t have to lean too far forward to reach the handles.
Many parents resort to getting a larger bike for their child to grow into it, but it is not advisable. A larger bike is more difficult to handle and control, so getting a bike that fits is critical when teaching a child to cycle.
Also, when the bike is smaller and suits your little one perfectly, it is much easier for them to step down when necessary. This will provide a sense of security to the kids that are afraid of falling.
Take Care of the Safety Issues
Teaching your child safety is one of the essential things during bike riding lessons. Make sure your child wears a proper bike helmet each time they cycle. Wearing one yourself is also recommended since you will set an example.
Teach your kid about traffic awareness, and get bright colored and reflective clothing for them to wear when cycling. You may consider getting knee pads, elbow, and shin guards for extra protection.
Cycling comes with so many health, social, and environmental benefits that it would be highly unfortunate not to give your child the tools to enjoy this awesome activity.
Choosing a Place to Teach Your Child to Cycle
Sidewalks and streets are not the ideal training grounds due to potential dangers and many distractions. A traffic-free area like an empty parking lot or a basketball court is perfect.
Ideally, the practicing place should be large enough, flat, and smooth.
Grassy areas may seem tempting as they will cushion the falls, but they are tougher terrains for smaller children to keep moving.
Essential Steps When Teaching Your Child to Cycle
Start with practicing getting on and off a bike. This step may not be required for the kids that are already pretty handy around a bike, but some children will need to practice it to get comfortable.
If your kid is a bit reluctant and concerned, encourage them to repeat it several times.
The next step to ease your child into cycling is for them to learn to scoot and glide. The child should walk back and forth, holding the handlebars while sitting on a bike. Kids tend to look at their feet, or the front wheel while doing this, so instruct them to look ahead.
Now we are getting to the real deal: when your kid is comfortable with scooting the bike, show them how to glide with your legs outstretched to keep the balance. Then ask your little one to try to pick up their feet and glide too.
Moving on to Pedaling, Steering, and Turning
Once you feel your child is comfortable with scooting and gliding on the bike, you can move on to pedaling. Show your little one the correct “ready position” for starting. One pedal should be slightly above and forward compared to the other.
When it comes to steering and turning, start with gentle turns with the handlebars and slight balance corrections, before and during the motion.
To make things more enjoyable and fun, you can turn practice into games.
For instance, you can make things more interesting if you sit on your bike and ask your kid to follow you while making some big turns from time to time.
When your child has mastered pedaling a bike, you can make things more challenging and ask them to do large, wide circles.
Practice Slowing Down and Stopping
An important lesson for every child when starting with cycling is to get the feel of the brakes. They may need a while to understand how much pressure they should apply for the brakes to work.
Practice with your kid how to use the pedal or hand brakes before and while in motion.
Pay Attention to Your Child’s Needs
If you notice your child isn’t confident enough when riding solo even if they have mastered cycling, stay by their side. If they seem like they’re losing interest in further training, then end the session for the day and continue the next day.
You may occasionally be tempted to push things a bit further, so prepare to restrain yourself from forcing the process since every child is unique, and they learn at a different pace.
I’m Rebecca, a translator and avid traveler, a book worm and horror flick enthusiast. My job has given me the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives me a chance to try to showcase some of them.