1603 child learns bike ride without training wheels petit early learning journey
Photo: petitjourney

To become a companion for your children during the process of learning how to ride a bike sometimes need patience as well as time. Being aware of those tips might help you achieve good careful plan to help your children on self-driving withour the support of training wheels.

1. Make sure your child wants to do it

When it comes to learning how to ride, the child should have more interest than the parent. “Sometimes kids are pushed into an activity when the child is not ready. This usually turns into an uphill battle with no winner,” says Steve Finkelstein, founder of Professor Pedals, which offers individual and group bike riding lessons on Long Island, as well as in Westchester and Northern New Jersey.

It’s also important to factor in the child’s maturity, which is critical in areas of safety and control. After all, a bicycle is a vehicle and needs to be treated with respect—not to mention also having respect for other riders, pedestrians and vehicles.

2. Practice balance

It’s best to start testing a child’s balancing capabilities before he gets on a bike. “The child’s ability in other activities that have balance and risk taking components—riding a scooter, karate, ice skating, gymnastics, skiing, etc.—are good signs that they are ready to learn to ride,” says Finkelstein.

3. Choose the right bike

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Photo: The New York Times

Parents often purchase a bike with the idea that their child will grow into it, but the bike is then too big and difficult for the child to control, says Katie Needham, director of retail activation for Schwinn. The Madison, WI-based company recently launched a line of Smartstart bikes, which have been designed to better fit a child’s body and riding needs.

Here’s a guideline for choosing the best bike: Measure the height of the child to determine the correct wheel size of the bike. For a child who is 28” to 38” in height, a bike with a 12” wheel diameter should be best. For a child between 38” to 48” in height, the best bet is a bike with 16” wheels. A taller child who is 42” to 52” inches tall would be able to ride a bike with 18” wheels, and a child 48” to 60" inches tall should be ready for a bike with a 20” wheel diameter.

4. Find the right location

The best place is an area where the child won’t be embarrassed, so while his local school or park may be the most convenient choice, it can also be distracting if he runs into some friends there. Finkelstein suggests going to a neighboring town so this won’t happen.

5. Teach how to break first

Learning how to stop the bicycle is crucial before teaching a child how to move it. “Introduce how brakes work, where they are and how to use them,” says Finkelstein. “Teaching these defensive techniques in brake usage and how to effectively place feet quickly to the ground in a wide position will empower a child with skills to prevent or minimize falls, and that will make him feel more confident.”

But what about a child who is super afraid of falling? Finkelstein suggests asking the child how long he has been walking. Chances are, he's tripped and fallen a few times—did he stop walking as a result? Then go on to explain that the child is protected from getting really hurt with a bike helmet and pads, and that Mom or Dad will be there the whole time to keep him safe.

6. Take the pedals off.

While some parents might shell out $100 or more for a balance bike, there’s really no need to make that extra purchase. Instead, just do what Mark Rust, a dad from New Paltz, NY, did when he taught his two girls how to ride—he simply took the pedals off their bikes and lowered their seats so their feet could easily touch the ground. “They would then glide down the driveway on their own. Whenever they lost their balance, they could simply put their feet down. At first it would be inches at a time, then feet, then suddenly the whole driveway. Then we put the pedals back on, and they learned to ride very quickly.”

7. The push off method

1710 petit learn ride
Photo: petitjourney

Try this bike learning method on a smooth surface. It can be tempting to try this method on the lawn, but it’s harder to pedal on grass. Position yourself behind the bike with your feet on either side of the rear wheel. Rather than hold the bike, support your child under the armpits.

When they pedal, stay behind them and gradually let go. Be ready to reach forward and give your child support if needed.

8. Go slow

Stick to manageable increments. If a parent is pushing one hour of lesson time, she may be doing too much. Be sure to take breaks as needed, and remember, if the adult is getting tired, so is the child.

9. Be patient

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Photo: The International Mom

The median time a child needs to learn is three to four weeks. “If the lessons are turning very emotional or stressful, or if the child loses interest, then it is time to take some time off,” says Needham. “Let a few weeks go by and then give it another shot.”, according to mommypoppins.

How to ride a bicycle safely

Choose a bike that’s a suitable height for your child

Adjust the seat so they can put their feet on the ground

Always wear the correct size bicycle helmet

Use elbow and knee protector

Wear clothing that protects the body

Protect your child’s feet in enclosed shoes like sneakers

If riding near dusk or at night, put night reflectors and appropriate bike lights on the bike

Bike riding lessons should include how to use hand signals for stopping and turning

Instruct your child on how to use their bell to warn pedestrians they’re near

Use a red bicycle high visibility safety flag if your child rides on the road

Teach your child how to ride a bicycle safely with road rules for bikes

Complete regular bike safety checks.

With positive feedback and gradual learning, your child’s confidence and knowledge of bike riding will grow. It won’t be long before they ride without training wheels. Soon, they’ll have the courage and experience for family activities, like a 20km bike journey.

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