As summer approaches, thoughts turn to getting outdoors. One of the joys of childhood is learning how to ride a bike!
Learning to ride a bike is a big step in the development of a child. It can also be a big moment in the life of a parent! Though it is not often easy, the truth remains that, once you do it, you never forget. Some children are able to learn to ride a bike at a young age, and though this does not mean that you should try to get your child onto a bike as soon as he or she starts walking, it does mean that you can introduce your child to a bike as soon as you feel they are ready.
When it comes time for bike riding, be sure to stay positive. Let your child know how much fun it is to ride a bike but remind them that this skill takes time to develop. (See this other article about helping children to set goals.) Let your child see the enjoyment that comes from bike riding as they watch you riding a bike. It’s also important to stress safety, so make sure to be a role model by wearing a helmet and make sure your child has one too. (Let them help you pick it out as another positive incentive!) You may also want to get a set of knee and elbow pads. Despite these precautions, let your child know that there is nothing to be afraid of when getting on the bike.
It goes without saying, but in the beginning, make sure your child’s bike has training wheels. They will help your child to develop the balancing skills they’ll need as he/she gets on and off the bike and begins to move forward and steer. Once your child is comfortable on the bike, it’s time to pedal. Have him/her pedal slowly as you walk alongside, with a hold on the bike. Remember, the bike should still have its training wheels, but your child will likely feel more comfortable knowing that you also having a hand on it.
Have your child use the pedals while you hold the bike upright. This will help the child get the feel of the bicycle. Ask the child if he or she is comfortable and keep re-enforcing that the bike is safe. Once the child gets comfortable with the bike, you can let go and simply walk or jog behind the bike. In time, the child will grow comfortable with the bike and it will be time to try this all over without the training wheels.
When it is time for that first bike ride without the training wheels, pick a safe location. The best spots are flat, wide-open spaces, like a school parking lot. Plenty of encouragement will be needed but soon you’ll have a child that loves to bike-ride.