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As your child begins to grow up, you would start teaching him a lot of things, right from tying his shoelaces to helping out around the house. One of the usual milestones that usually confounds parents is understanding how to teach a child to ride a bike. Is it better to run behind your child as he balances or should you use training wheels and let him get the hang of it? There are many techniques you can employ to make sure he starts riding it well.
What Is The Right Age for Teaching Bicycle to a Child?
As with every child out there, the right age differs for everyone. However, there is an emotional side associated with learning to ride the bicycle, which makes it best to teach it to your child when he’s around 4-6 years old. This is the age when children are more open to trying out new things and don’t fear failure or hurting as much. After a few years, those aspects start making themselves felt, which could make your child a little fearful and too cautious about learning to ride a bike.
Preparations Before You Start Giving Bike Lessons to Your Child
Here’s what you need to keep in mind before teaching your kid how to ride a bike.
1. Ensure Your Child Is Emotionally Ready
- Not all kids will be ready at the same time to learn a new skill. Your child’s friends might be completely excited to start cycling and taking the first steps already, but your child still might be hesitant to do so.
- Let your child take his time. Don’t force him or scold him to ride the bike. This will make him hate the activity itself. At times, your child might also need the physical strength to be able to balance the bicycle, too.
2. Selecting and Preparing The Bicycle
- Parents often opt for getting a bicycle that could last for future years, too. However, learning a new skill on a cycle that’s too large for your kid could be counterproductive.
- Choose a cycle that is right for his age, give and take a year or two. His feet should touch the ground when they are over the bar. It is always better to teach the kid to ride a bike without training wheels since that allows them to focus on the core of riding, which is balancing the cycle correctly.
3. Ensure to Gather Safety Equipments
- Many parents choose to flout this norm but it is extremely essential to have the right helmet and protective gear for your child when learning to ride. Your child will definitely fall down multiple times and he shouldn’t end up hurting himself severely.
- The helmet should fit snugly on his head. You could even use elbow and knee protectors to prevent him from scraping those areas. Cycling gloves are useful in this regard, too.
4. Choosing a Safe Place to Learn Riding
- Don’t teach your kid to ride the bicycle on a busy street at the risk of passing vehicles. You might want to opt for a lawn instead due to the softness of the grass, but that will bring resistance to the cycle’s movements initially.
- Opt for a lane that is rarely frequented by pedestrians or vehicles. A parking lot closer to your house is a good choice as well at the right time of the day.
Steps to Teach Your Kids to Ride a Bike
You can follow these steps while teaching your kids to ride a bike.
1. Balancing and Steering
- The two major factors that involve riding a bicycle are balance and direction. These should be the first things your child learns.
- Look for an inclined slope and push the cycle up to point where it won’t pick up a lot of speed. Then, let your child gradually start moving downwards and attempt to balance the cycle.
- You can hold it from behind to keep the speed in control and let him focus on balancing it. Or he can make use of his legs to drag along the road to reduce the speed.
- Let them begin to understand that balance comes not just from the seat but also from operating the handle correctly. They will start developing the assurance that the speed is under their control and learn to keep their feet off the ground.
- Once the feet are off the ground, they need to start finding their place on the pedals. The position is a new one for your child to learn so it is best to try it out first while the bicycle is stationary on its main stand, or while you hold it steady.
- When that gets comfortable, get him back up the slope and let the cycle come down with his feet on the pedals. Remind him to not be afraid since he can always stop the bike by dragging his feet on the ground.
- Over time, your child will be used to the position of the pedals. Then he could try out pedalling by pedalling in the reverse direction gradually since that will not add to the speed. Maintaining balance while moving their legs will be a challenge initially.
- As that works out, you can increase the position higher up the slope and let your child half-pedal while he comes down.
- Nowadays, nearly all bikes come with coaster brakes installed. These are also termed as foot-operated brakes. What they generally do is counter the forward motion of the wheel slowly when backpedalled. This causes friction between the plates and brings the wheels to a stop.
- Let your kid try that out while you hoist the cycle on the main stand. When that is done, try that out again on the slope and see if it works well.
- The next step is to master the actual brakes that are located on the handlebars. One of the key things that your child needs to learn is to balance his own fear with the brakes. Generally, kids apply the brakes with full force unaware of the stopping mechanism. This brings the cycle to a quick halt, shifts the centre of gravity, and causes your child to topple over and fall down.
- Let your child know that the brake intensity varies based on how hard the lever is pressed. Let him try doing that while gently pedalling on a flat road first. As he starts getting the hang of it, you can bring him back to the slope and let him try that out there.
- Finally, when your child can brake gently, and resume pedalling without touching his feet to the ground, you will know that he is ready to cycle all by himself.
You might think of hiring a teacher for your child who delivers cycling lessons for children. But that truly isn’t necessary. As your child starts learning to ride, he also starts learning to trust you. That bond needs to be developed in real-life scenarios when he begins to understand the concepts of failure and mistakes and getting up to try again no matter what. Your continued support and words of appreciation will keep his hope going strong and his efforts will continue unabated. Having the knowledge that you will be there with him will give him the security he needs to conquer his fears and begin riding his bicycle confidently.