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First walking on their own two legs, then riding on the two wheels of their own bike – both are big steps for our little ones. Although, in the beginning, with the training wheels, it’s more like four wheels. Learning to ride a bike – what’s the best way to do it and from what age does it make sense?
Learning To Ride A Bike Is Easy – It’s All About The Right Preparation
Practice makes perfect: A great preparation for learning to ride a bike is riding a running bike. Wheels promote body control, responsiveness and, of course, a sense of balance at an early age. Toddlers who are already walking can also start practicing with a four-wheeled running bike. If this works well and it is a little bigger, it can continue to practice with a normal running wheel.
If your child can safely ride around on it, the motor skills required to learn to ride a bike are there. But there is one thing you should definitely wait for: the explicit desire of your child to learn to ride a bike. Because without self-motivation, the practice hours could be quite long. And with the right motivation, even small falls will be better absorbed and it will be quicker to get up again and continue cycling.
The Right Age To Teach Your Child To Ride A Bike
One thing first: There is no such thing as the right age. It always depends on the developmental speed of your child. The use of bicycles is increasing more and more and thus the motor skills and the sense of balance are trained. That’s why you can tend to say that nowadays the little ones get on their bikes earlier than in the past. Some can already ride at kindergarten age, for others it just takes a little longer. By the time they start school, at the latest, most can ride a bike safely.
These Are The Best Places To Practice Riding A Bike
Of course, it’s best to practice in quiet places without other road users or other sources of danger. Here’s a small list of places that work well:
Your Own Property
If you have a big enough yard, it’s safest and most convenient to teach your child to ride a bike there.
For those who don’t have a yard available, parks are a super alternative. It’s best to make sure you don’t take your child there on a Saturday lunchtime when the park is full of dogs, cyclists and walkers, but choose a quieter time.
Parking lots are also an alternative, but of course only after closing time, when there are no more visitors and cars on them.
For those of you who live in rural areas, field paths are also great.
If you fall here, you will fall quite softly. However, the unevenness may not be quite so optimal and make it difficult to pedal. These were just a few ideas, in general, of course, you can teach your child to ride a bike on any large, flat surface without obstacles and other road users.
Learning To Ride A Bike With Or Without Training Wheels?
When I learned to ride a bike, it was still common to start with training wheels. Now experts advise against training wheels. If your child is already safe on a running bike without training wheels, using training wheels when learning to ride a bike would be more of a step backwards. After all, they have already trained their balance. In addition, training wheels give a false sense of security, because whether it rides or stands, it can not fall over. In addition, the child forgets how to balance itself and must first learn again that it is possible to fall over. So it can be said that training wheels are an unnecessary and counterproductive intermediate step. If your child still has too many problems with independent balancing, then remove the pedals from the bike or take the running bike and let him practice a bit first.
The Right Equipment Is Crucial
For success in learning to ride a bike, the right equipment is crucial. Not only is the bike itself important, but the right accessories, such as a fun bell, can help motivate little ones. A bike that is too big or a helmet that doesn’t fit is rather counterproductive. You should pay attention to the following points:
The Size Of The Bike
It is important that your child can safely stand with his feet on the ground. The smallest bike starts at 12 inches, with which kindergarten children with a height of about 95 cm can ride. Slightly older or taller children can take bikes with 16 to 18 inch wheels and elementary school children can also ride 18 to 20 inch wheels. When buying, you should also pay attention to points such as weight. In any case, it is advisable to seek advice from a specialist bicycle store. There your child can also test ride, because not every bike fits every child. Because your child grows quickly and the first bike probably has to endure the one or other fall, it does not have to be the most expensive and you can also fall back on a used one.
So that no clothes get tangled in the chain and that ends in a fall, a chain guard is definitely important! The handles should be padded and a bent handlebars also provides some additional impact protection. The brakes, of course, must work properly and most children’s bikes are equipped with the good old coaster brake. This is because the little ones often still lack the necessary strength in their fingers to pull the handbrake quickly and firmly enough.
Saddle And Handlebars
As already mentioned, the saddle should be set high enough for your child to get their feet on the ground (not just the tips of their toes!) The height of the handlebars should also be adjusted so that they don’t fall over so easily at the front, and so that they can turn corners comfortably.
The Most Important – Helmet And Protectors
Without a bicycle helmet nothing goes! Without a helmet, no riding a bike. Let your child choose the helmet himself, so you can be sure that he likes it. Of course, it must fit properly and must not be too tight or too big. If your child is rather timid, you can additionally equip it with elbow and knee pads. Otherwise, long clothing is actually also enough to avert the worst shake-ups.
Teaching The Child To Ride A Bike – This Is How You Can Assist As A Parent
Practice makes perfect and the child must learn to ride a bike on its own. Nevertheless, as a parent you can offer your child mental support and security with a few simple assistance.
Give Security And Support
In the beginning you can give your child some support on the back or shoulders. But be careful: keep your hands away from the saddle or the handlebars, otherwise you will prevent your child from keeping its balance. Also make sure that you stay in your child’s field of vision so that he or she does not have to turn around to look at you.
Push Instead Of Shove
Pushing your child is more likely to motivate them to pedal than pushing them all the time. This will make them more passive about pedaling. If you do push it, please don’t stop without warning or you could fall.
Only Good Riders Fall Off Horses
…as the saying goes. This also applies to learning to ride a bike. You don’t have to panic if your child falls. You’re not going really fast and our little ones can’t fall really far either. Wearing a helmet is of course the be-all and end-all! It is also recommended that your child wears long clothes and not just a T-shirt and shorts. And if the tears do flow, it is usually due to the fright.
Don’t panic on the Titanic! Just try to stay relaxed and calm. Don’t build up pressure through expectations, e.g. “We’ll show grandma how great you are tomorrow” or “XY can already ride a bike, even though he/she is younger”. Don’t overexert yourselves – if one of you doesn’t feel like it anymore, just postpone the practice until another day.
No Master Has Yet Fallen From The Sky
The key word here is: Practice, practice, practice. If you can ride straight, you can start to ride curves or slaloms. Riding a bike on uneven surfaces and slopes must also be learned. It is especially important to practice starting and braking so that your child can react quickly in dangerous situations. Try to prepare them for all situations and stress the importance of always being alert and looking ahead.
Eyes Open In Traffic
Children should only really participate in road traffic if they are completely safe. Up to the age of eight, children must and should ride on the sidewalk, and we parents are allowed to do the same.
Teaching Your Child To Ride A Bike – My Conclusion
With motivation and practice, learning to ride a bike will be a breeze and you can teach your child to ride a bike if you stay patient and relaxed. The right equipment and a suitable environment are crucial for quick success. If your child has already trained his motor skills and sense of balance with a running bike, you should do without training wheels, as they are more of a step backwards for balance.