Teaching Your Child to Ride a Bicycle
Author: Cycling Deal Date Posted:1 December 2016
Teaching your child to ride a bike is an exciting and nerve racking time for parent and child alike. We’ve created this guide to help you make learning to ride fun and as stress-free as possible. Of course, you should make sure you have a helmet for your child, as well as other protective gear like knee pads and shoulder pads.
Are They Ready?
Most children will be ready to learn between 3.5 and 4.5 years of age. If they’re not ready, it’s usually pretty obvious right away, and they won’t get the hang of moving the pedals in circles quickly.
Set the Bike up Properly
Set the bike seat at a height where the child can get the balls of their feet on the ground. It’s tempting to go for setting the saddle low enough that they can put flat feet on the ground, but that makes the pedalling action more difficult. Their knees will come up too high and interfere with the steering, making gaining balance more difficult.
The Right Kind of Support
Rather than holding onto the saddle and/or handlebars, it’s best to stand behind the bike and child, and wedge the rear wheel between your feet and calves. Support them with your hands under the armpits, so they’ve got complete control of the bike.
As they gain confidence riding you can gradually let go, but stay ready to grab them under the armpits if necessary. Encourage them to practice cornering at this stage.
Once they’ve got the hang of pedalling forward and balancing, position the pedal of their stronger foot into the 2 o’clock position and get the child to put their foot on the pedal. Tell them to push down hard on that pedal while pushing on the ground on the other leg. After a few tries, they should be able to take off on their own.
Breaking Down Braking
It’s sometimes easier to introduce the concept of the brakes without the child actually riding – so ask them to walk alongside the bike and pull on the brake levers to see what happens. They will pull on the levers pretty hard to begin with. You can then encourage them, while walking, to squeeze the brakes more slowly. Once they’ve got the hang of that, put them back on the bike and have a few goes. They’ll usually brake effectively, but forget to put their feet down – so be ready to catch!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice is the key to getting the hang of it. But remember that every child’s different, and the point at which they’re ready to ride varies. Be careful not to make it into a stressful experience for the child, no matter how keen you are for them to join you on rides. With any luck, they’ll love practising this new skill, and the freedom it brings.