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How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bike
What is the best way to teach a child to ride a bike?
Like teaching a child to walk or to swim, teaching a child to ride a bike is something every parent has to go through at least once in a lifetime!
Riding a bike is such a natural aspect in a child's life that, after it is over and done, you generally tend to forget the details of exactly when and how it happened. But coming to think of it, the moment when your child is actually ready to leave his or her toddler tricycle behind and take his/her first ride on a two wheel bike, is quite nerve racking for a parent and filled with visions of broken arms and noses and scratched and bleeding faces...
So...what would be the best and safest way to teach a child to ride a bike?
Picture taken by me
When is the time right?
When is your child ready to learn to cycle on his/her own? Well, the correct answer is, whenever he or she feels ready! No two children are absolutely identical in this respect. My older son was absolutely ready at the age of 4,5 while my younger was "bullied" by his brother into learning how to ride a two wheeler at the age of six, but has only recenly mastered this skill and he is now eight!
Here is my word of advice, after having had the experience of teaching two boys to ride a bike:
- Take the training wheels off as soon as your child asks you to. Sometimes, once a child has learned to cycle quite fast, training wheels can be more harmful than helpful. They give a child a false sense of security and if they bend upwards or get snagged in pavement cracks (which in my experience they quite often do!) they may result in a bad fall and a hard to overcome fright.
- Choose a bike that is the right size for your child. This means that when sitting upright on the saddle, your child should be able to have the toes of both feet on the ground. It also means that when one of the pedals is at the lowest point, the foot resting on that pedal should only be very slightly bent (or in other words, almost fully extended).
top rated kids bike
What kind of bike?
This is an excellent choice for your child's first "real" bike. With an oversized front wheel flange, dual suspension and 16 inch wheels, it is a sturdy and durable yet not heavy bike which your child will enjoy for many years. Easy to assemble, it features a quick release seat pin and also includes training wheels, in case your child still needs a little extra help in the beginning.
How do you do it?
The best way is to have two people involved. Be ready for quite a lot of running behind and/or beside the bike. Here is how I did it, with almost instant success in both cases. It actually only takes about a couple of days before your child feels confident enough to ride his/her bike on his/her own.
- Don't frighten your child by specifically stating that this is D-Day, or in other words, the day when he/she will learn to ride a bicycle. Let your child sit comfortably on the saddle and while you are firmly grasping the rear end of the bike (the back edge of the saddle or a parent pole if the bike has one) tell your child to place his/her feet on the pedals and start pedalling.
- Run after the bike as your child cycles, keeping a firm grip on the rear of the bike. Not on your child or his/her clothes, not on the handle bars, as this will interfere with your child's equilibrium. Have another person run alongside the bike. In my case, this was my husband in the case of our older son and my older son in the case of my youngest.
- As soon as you feel that the bike has gathered momentum and your child is hapilly cycling along, let go of the bike, NOT TELLING your child that you are letting go but making sure that the person running alongside the bike knows.
- If your child realises that you are no longer holding on, he/she may get frightened, lose balance and fall over. This is where the person running alongside the bike comes in. He/she should be fit and fast enough to grasp the handlebars or the child itself to stop it from falling over. If however the child does not realise that you have let go and keeps cycling along, your helper should just tell it to brake and put one foot down as soon as he/she is too out-of-breath to keep running alongside.
- That's it basically! After one or two days of this at the most, your child should be a pro! Just make sure that he/she knows how to stop the bike and get off safely once there is nobody holding on or running alongside.
Don't forget your safety equipment!
Never let your child ride his/her bike without the proper protective gear. This would include a safety helmet and protective elbow and knee pads
© 2013 Aquamarine18