Many people fear that it is not safe for children, and toddlers specifically to start cycling at such a tender age. On the contrary, cycling at a younger age is very good for your child. It not only improves their fitness but also boosts their mental attitude. Therefore, if you haven’t already maybe because you do not know how to go about it, here are 5 sure steps that will help you teach your child how to ride a bike.
1. Get him to balance right
Cycling is both a sport and an art. You really cannot get it right if you do not have the appropriate gear. For starters, get a balance bike. This will help your child learn to maintain their balance and it will even be easier for him when he upgrades to pedaling later. Balance bikes are most appropriate as they are designed to meet your child’s needs.
They come without pedals and normally without brakes. Hence your child will entirely concentrate on striking a balance on their bike. Make it your priority to see to it that your child can balance on a flat surface as well as a sloppy ground. The next move would be to teach him how to balance and turn to the right, the left, clockwise and anticlockwise. At this stage patience is a virtue. Parents are encouraged to let their kids do as many repetitions as possible until they get it right.
2. Take it a notch higher
Once your child has mastered balancing then you can advance to a pedal bike. Again, getting the right gear for your child is paramount. The lighter the bike the better since lighter bikes consume far much less leg power. You may need to spend a pretty penny for this though. It is also advisable to go for a set of wheels that range between 14-16 inches. To ascertain the bicycle is ideal for your child, let him sit on the bicycle seat with his legs straight. Do not forget the helmet, elbow and knee pads. Ensure that his feet touch the ground.
The next thing would be to start easy- on an open space which is preferably flat. While holding the bike seat, let him sit and then support their neck before you start pedaling. Train him to look ahead as opposed to looking at the ground. Practice pedaling while pushing him steadily and repeat this for some time. Once you feel that he his balance and confidence is improved then you can let go. If at all he topples over, then assure him that it is okay and cheer them to go back up again until they get it right.
3. Try out different surfaces
Now that your child can peddle with confidence and perfect balance, move away from the open space. Take him to a sloppy ground. He will find pedaling much easier here. The trick here is to train him to always rest onto the pedal at the top of its revolution such that every time he lifts his foot, the pedal will be in the appropriate position. As he rides down the slope, let him do so without necessarily pedaling. This builds on balance and confidence. Do this over and over again until he gets it right. You will find that he will find it very easy to get the other foot on the other pedal and even pedal automatically down the slope. However if he takes a little longer to get it then encourage him to do it at his own pace. Once you are done with the slope, you can advance to a flat surface. Let his pushing foot rest on the pedal and encourage him to push hard and fast while maintaining their balance. Don’t stay too far away though; you don’t want him to fall and hurt himself.
4. Do it again and again and again!
He has now understood that when it comes to cycling all you need is balance, keenness and confidence. Try out all tricks that you taught him. Get your bicycle, and together, go back to the sloppy ground and later to the flat surface and just cycle. Getting your child to see you do the very basic things that you taught him sets a good example and also boosts his confidence. When all of you are relatively at par then change the scenery.
Go to the sidewalks and even narrower pavements to let him practice the same tricks in a different setting. At this stage, you need to really work hard on slowing down and stopping the bicycle when the need arises. After a number of trials you can switch up with a pro and let them practice together. He could teach your child some of the things that you may have forgotten.
5. Pedal like a pro
This final step is as important as the first one. Your child should master cycling discipline. He should never ride his bike without wearing his protective gear. Also let him learn all of the road safety and traffic rules. Train him to check his wheels and brakes before cycling; just to ensure that they are in perfect condition. If your child practices these and all the other tips then you will both realize that riding a bicycle is as easy as ABC.
As a parent you will really appreciate teaching your child how to cycle. By the end of the entire process your bond will be much stronger. Remember you’ll need to exercise patience. Don’t scold him if he repeats his mistakes. Encourage him to try the same trick over and over until he gets it. Learning to cycle may take 2 weeks, a month or longer depending on your child. Just take him as he is and watch him grow to be one of the best riders you will ever know.