The step by step guide outlined in this article can teach a child to ride a bike as quickly as an hour or two. The important thing to remember is that everyone learns at their own pace, so be patient have fun and use the techniques and steps outlined in this article and you will be riding bikes together in no time.
The traditional way of teaching a kid to ride a bike was to strain your back holding them while running along side them until they got the hang of the balance, pedaling and steering. This method of teaching a child to ride a bike is no longer suggested. There is a faster and safer way!
First of all you want to teach your child to do one thing at a time. There are 4 main skills to acquire: balancing, steering, pedaling and stopping. Below we will focus on each of these skills 1 by 1 and step by step.
How To Teach a Child To Ride a Bike
Generally, you are able to teach your child to ride a bike as early as 3 years old. Riding bikes can be a great family activity and can be enjoyed by all.
Items needed: A bike and helmet are absolute essentials, but if you are looking for more safety gear then short of wrapping your child in bubble wrap you are able to get gloves, elbow pads and shinguards. Items not suggested: loose fitting pants.
How To Teach a Child To Balance on a Bike
- Take the pedals off your child’s bike or use a balance bike.
- Adjust the seat height so that your child is able to touch the ground flat footed with both feet.
- Find a gentle grassy slope, 3 degrees is sufficient. It only needs to be approximately 25 yards long with a flat spot afterward or even an uphill. Then instruct him or her to go downhill by pushing with their feet. As they get more comfortable encourage them to use their feet less and less.
- Make sure they are relaxed (not gripping too tight on the handlebars) and looking straight ahead and not down right in front of them. Also, keep legs and arms tucked in and close to the bike for better balance.
- Do not hold on to the bike, let your child feel the balance on their own. If they really want you to come with them then make sure you run behind them and not beside them so you do not distract them.
- Once they have improved balancing, challenge them to games of how long they are able keep their feet off the ground. Ie. count to 10, sing the abc’s or sing a song. Keep it as fun as possible.
- Remember to always praise improvement.
- Continue to coast downhill until your child is comfortable balancing on their own down the entire slope. No need to rush this step, it is the single most important one.
How To Teach a Child To Steer a Bike While Coasting
- Your kid may have already started to learn this while coasting down the gentle slope; however, have them make gentle turns while going down the slope so they are able to get a feel for steering.
- Make another game of turning, put two cones out and have them go on the left side of one and the right side of the other, gradually move them wider apart.
- Continue to build their confidence by constant encouragement.
How To Teach a Kid To Pedal a Bike
- First, put the pedals back on the bike if you removed them.
- Stay on that very same hill, start from the top and ask your kid to only pedal once down the entire slope. Then pedal twice.
- When they feel comfortable have them pedal on the flats or slight uphill after the gentle downhill slope.
- Once they get the hang of pedaling, teach them how to stop the bike. Once they are comfortable stopping, raise the child’s seat an inch, have them practice more, then raise it another inch. Raise the seat until it reaches it’s ideal saddle height. Rough guide to ideal saddle height for children, is that there should be a slight bend in the knee when at the bottom of the pedal stroke. The leg should be about 80% – 90% straight.
How To Teach a Child To Stop
- Now it is time to teach your child to stop without using the feet on the ground as brakes.
- While costing downhill have your child press on the coaster brake to stop. Once your kid has done this a few times without wobbling too much then it is time to break out the games: Use your cones to get them to stop a specific points or play red light green light.
- Remember to tell them what a good job they are doing.
How To Teach a Kid To Ride In a Straight Line
Congratulations, your child has the basics of riding a bike down. Now we can start to combine the skills they have learned. Find a flat parking lot, cul de sac, or even a wide long driveway.
- Teach your kid to ride a bike from a stand still. If they are right hand dominant, teach them to put the right pedal at the 2 o’clock position to get started. If your child is left hand dominant, then teach them to put the left pedal at the 2 o’clock position to get started. By doing this it will ensure as they get on the bike it will start to move forward, making the balancing act a little bit easier.
- Teach your child to look straight ahead, as looking to any side will make them turn or possibly lose balance.
Tips on How To Teach a Child To Steer, Pedal and Brake
Once your child gets the hang of riding their bike, challenge them to a right hand turn, then a left hand turn, then graduate them to circles and finally ask them to do figure eights. Once they have this mastered this then it is time to go for a ride with them!
Mistakes to Avoid When Teaching Your Child To Ride a Bike
- Buying too large of a bike – many parents do this so the child is able to “grow into the bike” however, this makes it significantly more difficult while learning. Ensure that your child is able to to stand over the top tube, with both feet flat on the ground and can comfortably reach the handlebars. You can purchase inexpensive child’s bikes here.
- Not making bike riding fun – make games out of the separate skills, you and your child will have more fun.
- Rushing the lessons – breaks are necessary, if they are not feeling up to the next skill test don’t force them. Also make sure they are comfortable with the skill before moving on.
- Not giving enough positive reinforcement – focus on the positive things your child is doing as opposed to pointing out all of the mistakes.
- The steps outlined below is the safest way to teach a child to ride a bike; however, don’t expect that it will be crash free. You may need to comfort and bandage your child, then tell them how tough they are and encourage them to get back on the bike.
- If decide to hold on to your child or their bike at anytime, make sure that you do exactly what you tell your child you are going to do. For example do not lie to them saying that you are holding on to their bike when you are not. It will diminish trust and their confidence will decrease.
Teaching anyone to ride a bike can be a fun and rewarding experience. Just make sure to keep it fun and provide lots of positive energy and encouragement.
Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know that has a child.