6 Tips to Teach A Child to Ride A Bike

Jan Poshenko
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Prepare Them, Physically and Mentally

First and foremost, you need to prepare your child for the experience of riding a bike. This means that you should encourage them to engage in some kind of physical activity. While they have to prepare mentally for riding a bike, they also need to look forward to riding it physically, by adding some increased fitness into their routine. By making them more physically ready for biking, they will be more inclined to pick up the bike, because it will feel comfortable to them, and natural.

Start Them off Slow

When it comes to teaching your child to ride a bike, you need to start off slow. Don’t try to rush them. Start them out with a lower, comfortable seat, and a bike that isn’t too big. A smaller bike is more manageable for children when they are starting out, and will give them a better sense of balance and overall comfort. It will also be easier for them to pedal and maneuver, and it will be safer for them. In all, start off with something that’s no bigger than 24 – 26 inches. And don’t try to make it look too cool, or too high tech either.

Start with a Trike and Balance Bike

The conventional methods of teaching a child to ride steer a bike have been implemented for many years. Many kids have difficulty learning to ride a bike and will give up after repeated failed attempts.

There is another way which is predominantly used in countries such as Denmark.

When a young child is old enough to support their own weight on two feet, they are taught on a balance bike. Balance bikes resemble a bicycle without the pedals and utilize a child’s natural sense of balancing to balance the bike to move forward. This allows the child to learn to balance in an upright position and develop the coordination to learn to ride a bike.

Learning to ride a bike is not just about balancing. A child needs to develop coordination between both hands and feet and digest the combination of the various actions involved in riding a bike, like shifting their weight, pedaling and steering.

Using a balance bike will help them develop a foundation to learn to ride a bike in a matter of weeks. Instead of using wheels made of plastic or training wheels, balance bikes allow them to develop their balance and coordination while still standing upright.

Once a child has developed their balance, coordination and has overcome the fear of falling, they are ready to learn to ride a bike.

Make Sure the Bike Size is Right

Before you take your child out to learn how to ride a bike, you should carefully inspect his bike for sizing and stability issues. Have your child sit on the bike and make sure that his feet reach the pedals comfortably. Once he is on the bike, see how tall he is against the handlebars, making sure that his arms can reach the bars, yet his knees do not come up too high. This will help ensure that he will be able to operate the bike properly. Of course, you will also want to make sure that the brakes work well and that there are no dangling or broken components.

Find a Safe and Quiet Location to Practice

Just like kids learn to walk fine-tuning their balance and coordination skills, they need the same safe and quiet space to practice riding a bike.
Our days are full and filled with modern activities. Shuffleboard practice, playdates, and soccer practice are jostling for your attention. Finding that safe space that’s convenient can be challenging.

It may be a good idea to pick a location that’s close to home so that it can be your go to spot for practicing. That way you can learn to ride in a quiet environment that’s not littered with distractions. It would be wise to leave the bike in that spot regularly so it becomes part of the surroundings.

Some of the best options for practicing include: an empty parking lot, an empty parking driveway, or a bike path that’s not too crowded.

The main thing to keep in mind is that it needs to be a place that is going to keep you safe. Look for flat surfaces and a gentle incline.

Start Slow

If your child has never ridden a bike before, then you need to start out slowly to gain their confidence. Making sure they have the right bike and the right gear is crucial. They need to have a helmet and protective gear.
Once they’re ready, start by walking with them and encouraging them to ride. You can ride with them to help them get the hang of it. You need to keep the bike moving at a steady pace, and you should try to get them to pedal as they’re riding. As long as they keep moving, they’re not going to fall, and they’re definitely going to get the hang of it.

Be Patient

Because it’s so fun, learning to ride a bike quickly seems extremely important to kids and parents alike. This may actually become counter-productive motivation to teach riding a bike.

The trick to teaching a child to ride a bike is to foster patience and an overall sense of confidence in the child. In doing so, they will develop a sense of pride in themselves as well.

These are two important characteristics that will help your child avoid the frustration that often leads to fear and fear of riding a bike as well. Remember to instill a sense of pride and patience and your child will learn to ride a bike, no matter what the circumstances might be.

Clear Your Driveway of any toys, rocks, or trash. This will keep your child from having to maneuver around obstacles and avoid accidents.

Get some exercise yourself by running alongside your child.

Through repetition, this will help your child become a more comfortable rider.

Load your child’s bike up with some extra weight, such as a milk jug filled with sand. This additional weight will help your child develop strong leg muscles.

When doing this, make sure to find a bike with a training wheel. This will make it easier for your child to get on and off.

Ride with Them

This might seem counterintuitive, but riding with your child actually helps them learn and understand a lot more than you think. If you are serious about your child learning how to ride a bike, you might as well learn as well. This will also help you to understand your child’s first struggles and help teach them how to push through tough times and stick out challenges.

Not only does riding with them teach you a lot about your child's learning process, but riding with them helps you spend some quality time together. This is a huge bonus, not only for your child, but for you too. If you are stuck inside the house with an energetic child, riding with them can be a way to release pent up energy and keep your child from driving you up the wall.

Get on and ride a little distance in front of them, tell them to follow and encourage them when they fall. Don’t be the person on the back of the bike that is pushing them from behind, which may force them to ride faster than they are ready for or to go in a direction they are not ready for. Be happy with whatever pace they are going, and listen to them if they are not feeling it. Continuing down the road when your child is panicking isn’t helping them get comfortable with their bike.