10 Tips for Teaching a Child How to Ride a Bicycle

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Bicycles have never gone out of style and it isn’t likely that they ever will. It is the first ‘grownup’ transportation that a kid learns to operate on their own. Every child is excited when they receive their first bike. However, learning to ride a two-wheeler can take some time, more for some than others. Here’s some tips for teaching your child how to ride their first bicycle.

  1. Provide Protective Gear – A small child on a bike with training wheels isn’t likely to fall and hurt themselves too much, but they’ll still be excited to receive and wear their first bike helmet. Don’t but it off until later. It is better to get them used to wearing a helmet every time they get on a bike from the beginning than to try and add the habit later.
  2. Correct Sizing of the Bike – Many parents make the mistake of starting their kids out on a bike that is oversized for their child. The reasoning is, of course, to save the money of having to upgrade to a bigger bike when the smaller one is out grown. Unfortunately, a bike that is oversized for a child makes it more difficult for the child to maneuver, which makes it more hazardous for the child and could take them longer to learn how to ride.
  3. Start with Training Wheels – Some kids can learn to ride quickly without training wheels, but the majority of them need that extra help balancing to get started. The training wheels are not meant to be sitting level on the ground, but a little above the ground, so that they only touch the ground when the bike leans. Positioning them properly will help your child learn to balance.
  4. Smooth Surface – Gravel is not a good surface for learning to ride a bike. Find a smooth hard surface with plenty of room, like a paved parking lot, to begin your child’s bicycle instruction and then gradually move to narrower surfaces like the sidewalk or driveway.
  5. Help Them Learn Balance – The training wheels are the beginning of learning about balancing a bicycle, but eventually those training wheels need to come off. When that time comes, you may want to walk alongside the bike holding on to it as they get used to the new feeling of maintaining balance without the help of their training wheels.
  6. Help Them Gain Confidence – Some kids will be able to take off quickly with only a little guidance after the training wheels come off, others lack the confidence in themselves or take a couple of falls and get fearful of falling. Stick with them, holding onto the bike and walking alongside as long as it takes for them to gain that confidence to try it on their own.
  7. Gradual Free-wheeling – As you’re doing the walk-along, gradually begin letting go for a few seconds at a time and then taking hold again. Each time, let go for a little longer amount of time, until they are able keep it up on their own.
  8. Positive Attitude and Words – Criticism or belittling are never the approach to take when trying to a child something new. Speak positive and encouraging words to them. Let the child know that you believe they can conquer this task.
  9. Falls Will Happen – Part of the process of learning to ride a bike inevitably will result in falls. Some knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet and protective shoes will help keep your child for skins and bruises, but their ego and confidence may still get bruised. Encourage them to try again, once they recover from a fall.
  10. Don’t Rush Them– If your child is hesitant and fearful about riding their bike without their training wheels, don’t push them to fast or hard to make the change. Eventually, they’ll become confident enough to give it a try with your help.

Learning to ride a bike is a right of passage, a step towards adulthood and independence. Make sure to make the process a positive one.

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