Like most people, you probably learned to ride a bike when you were a young child. You probably also remember some kids learning the skill faster than others. For myself, I didn't really get the hang of riding reasonably well until I was about 8 years old as there was only one bike in my parents' house and it was my older brother's. Sad to say, I now avoid riding my lovely Canondale mountain bike like the plague as I have never really gotten very confident on one unlike my husband.
With my own children, my husband and I decided to start the kids early as we wanted them to handle their bikes like it was second nature to them. We've had our share of false starts and set backs but, as of yesterday afternoon, we now officially have two four year olds who are able to ride their bikes confidently without training wheels.
So, if you are thinking about how to get your kids started on biking or transitioning them to riding without training wheels, here are some tips we found useful to achieving these goals:
(1) Purchase a bike that is appropriate for your child's height. Nothing is worse than riding a bike that is either too small or too tall.
Here is a modified chart, courtesy of www.icebike.org, you might find useful:
Wheel Size Age Child's Height
12" or 30 cm 2-3 85-100 cm
14" or 35 cm 3-4 95-110 cm
16" or 40 cm 4-5 110-120 cm
20" or 50 cm 5-8 120-135 cm
24" or 61 cm 8-11 135-145 cm
26" or 66 cm 11 145 cm
An example of a girl's balance bike. Image courtesy of https://www.bigw.com.au/p/WCC100000000209825/prdImages/GALLERY/zoomImg/1/?context=bWFzdGVyfGltYWdlc3w3NjEyNnxpbWFnZS9qcGVnfGltYWdlcy9oNzgvaDUxLzEwMjQ4ODYwNTY1NTM0LmpwZ3xjNWQzZmI0N2Y5YTU0NGVlZjc0YjIzYzIyZDkxMTYxM2Q4YWE0NTEwZDkzOTIzZjNiMTg3MzNiMGJhZWQ1YzBm.
I should mention that our kids' first bikes had training wheels or stabilisers. Personally, I think these are okay to start with, as your child learns to pedal and make turns. However, we did end up removing the training wheels so our kids would learn to balance the bikes on their own without become overly reliant on them for stability. We then reattached the pedals onto our children's bikes once they grew confident enough in their balancing skills. Of course, you can always start with a balance bike for your child and then transition to a traditional children's bike once they have learned how to balance and glide along on their own.
(2) Let your child choose the bike they would like to ride and not something you think is cool. They are more likely to use the bike time and again if they like it, be it pink and sparkley with tassles or brightly coloured with super heroes plastered all over it.
An example of a boy's 30 cm or 12 inch bike. Image courtesy of https://www.bigw.com.au/p/WCC100000000227942/prdImages/GALLERY/zoomImg/0/?context=bWFzdGVyfGltYWdlc3w4NDQyNHxpbWFnZS9qcGVnfGltYWdlcy9oNzYvaDFmLzEwMjUxMDAxMTAyMzY2LmpwZ3xmZTEyNzExNmI2OWFjMDYyYmJjMWY0MmI3Y2QwOGE3MzIxMGQyZTU4MzQzNTVjYWZhNjY1MjMyZmNkNzEzOWYx.
(3) Be encouraging and resist the urge to push them to do more. Be there to keep an eye on their progress and safety but let your child discover and self-correct their own sense of balance and co-ordination.
(4) Practise regularly but keep sessions short. Remember those times as a child when adults would keep going on and on about a subject at school but your mind was somewhere else entirely? The same goes for learning to ride a bike. Keep practise sessions short and fun.
There will be times when your child may get frustrated at their lack of progress or completely turn off riding their bike but doing a bit here and there on a regular basis will yield results. Good luck and happy riding!
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