The fresh air, the adrenaline and the interaction with peers – the child will receive all of this when riding a bicycle. Regular rides improve physical and emotional well-being, develop core muscles, and strengthen the cardiovascular and the breathing systems.
This is not just the first means of transportation for the child, but also their two-wheeled companion. As soon as they learn to ride a bicycle, it will accompany them throughout their life. In order to take a sit on the saddle and start pedaling forward, solely maintaining balance is not enough. Think about yourself at this age: you are unlikely to have a quick reaction and to assess the situation on the road. Teaching the child how to ride a bicycle, parents are spared from worrying about their child’s health and safety.
Parents are usually divided into two groups of adherents of either early or late education. However, forcing the child and comparing them to their peers is not worth it. It is much easier to teach a child who displays a desire to learn how to ride. A bicycle is chosen not by age, but by height and the level of physical development.
How to select the right bicycle for your child in terms of their height and the wheel diameter? Which models to pay particular attention to? Read about all of these matters in our article In the saddle from the cradle. Choosing the right bicycle for a child.
Children do not display much interest towards balance bikes and bicycles with a parental handle, or the so-called cycle carriages. Such transport is suitable for the youngest children, however, it has nothing in common with autonomous bicycle riding. If a balance bike induces the love for riding, models with a handle for parents, on the contrary, can be off-putting. Children perceive a bicycle with a parental handle as a stroller: on it, they simply sit, look around and do not make any effort to move.
Children start riding a three-wheel bicycle from the age of 1.5-3 years old, and a two-wheeled bicycle with a pair of training wheels – from 5-6 years old. Additional wheels are removed after the child learns to maintain balance.
Getting on a bicycle and riding without falling off will not be possible. For a five-year-old who has not used such a means of transportation before, it is difficult to master a two-wheeled bicycle. Having learned to ride a three-wheel bicycle, the child will get acquainted with steering the handlebar and will understand the purpose of the pedals and the horn. With such accumulated knowledge, it will be easier for them to shift to a two-wheeled model.
The biggest advantage of the three-wheel bicycle is stability. Children of the age of 2-4 years will find those bicycles comfortable. In addition to that, they will be able to do the following during the ride:
Cycling improves blood circulation in the body and saturates it with oxygen. This hobby can form the basis of an active lifestyle. The acquired riding skill will not only remain with the child for life but will also bring a great number of positive emotions. American scientists Yingling Fan of the University of Minnesota and Jing Zhu of Northwestern University, have come to the conclusion that a bicycle is the only means of transportation that brings joy during the regular commute to work. In public transportation, people experience stress, and a bike ride before the workday fills them with good energy.
Physical activities in the outdoors will cause a surge in adrenaline levels and the production of endorphins. Riding a bicycle develops determination in the child, which subsequently increases their self-esteem. The novice cyclist will have the opportunity to set and achieve goals. The scope of victory does not matter, what matters is the fact itself. With age, the child will travel around the area, will test themselves at long distances and on difficult terrains.
In the Netherlands, a study was carried out that proved that cycling for 1 hour extends life by an average of the same time. It also was concluded that active cycling extends life by an average of six months in comparison with people who refrain from it.
Before going on a two-wheeled bicycle, the child should already have some riding experience. Whilst purchasing a tricycle is completely justified, you would have to figure out whether your child needs a balance bike or not.
A balance bicycle is a simplified alternative to the three-wheel bicycle.
It has no transmission and pedals, hence it is more lightweight. It is much easier to master it than to master riding on a bicycle. The child does not need to pedal, keep their balance or be distracted by the noises from the sides. The kid accelerates and brakes by pushing their feet off the ground. During the ride, they will learn to control the direction of their movement.
All of the child’s attention will be concentrated on the road, and their feet will be touching the ground. When tilting to one side, they will not fall and will not get injured, which is not the case when riding the bicycle.
Despite its simple design, a tricycle is harder to master than a balance bicycle. It is bulkier and heavier, hence it is not that maneuverable. The baby will not be able to independently carry and lift it without the help of adults. During the ride, the feet will be placed on the pedals, and if it was necessary to brake sharply, not all children would be able to react quickly and place their feet on the ground.
The disadvantage of the bicycle lies in the inconvenient location of the pedals of the front wheel, which complicates their rotation. Moreover, riding along a bumpy road is tiresome, therefore, be prepared to carry both the bike and the child back home.
When children are riding the bicycle, they pay attention to all of its details. They are interested in everything: how and why pedals turn, why is a handlebar necessary and what happens when it turns. Do not miss the right moment, be sure to use the interest of the child to kick start the learning process. On a tricycle, it is possible to firstly drive around the apartment, and only then to go outside on the street.
Explain the principle of steering right away. Clearly demonstrate that when the steering wheel rotates, the direction of movement changes. Put the child on the saddle and allow them to drive a couple of meters, pushing off with their feet. After that, place their legs on the pedals and talk about their purpose.
On the one hand, there is nothing difficult in explaining about the handlebar and the pedals, but on the other, it could be a pretty nerve-racking process. Little kids find it hard to concentrate. It is difficult to capture their attention, and even more so, to ensure that they are engaged for a certain period of time. In order to ensure their interest in the new type of transportation, ride their favorite toy around. Do not demand everything at once from your child. Move from one stage of training to another in a gradual manner. Until the baby learns to ride the bike, they do not necessarily need to pedal. But as soon as this happens, show them how the pedals work:
A few of such movements will instill a true interest in the child. They will try to turn the pedals on their own.
Novice cyclists move away from the three-wheeled bicycle at around the age of 5 years old. Riding a miniature copy of an adult bicycle is an option for children who are not grown up enough, to go on a full-sized version. If their muscles have gained in strength, they gained control over the bike and the three-wheeled model started feeling ‘too small’ for them, it is time to buy a two-wheeled bicycle equipped with training wheels.
An additional pair of side wheels gives stability and enables a safer movement. Children’s bicycles are sold with training wheels. If they are not provided in the set, they may be purchased separately.
The four-wheeled model is used for a transition between a three-wheeled bicycle and a two-wheeled one. This has both their supporters and opponents. Its main task is to protect the bike from tipping over, and not to teach to maintain balance. When titling over to one side, the emphasis is placed on the side wheels, therefore, the child does not have the opportunity to learn to maintain balance. This is where both the advantage and the disadvantage of a four-wheeled bicycle lies.
From one perspective, it is easier for a child to manage such a model, and on the other hand, it is difficult to refuse an extra safety feature. When the time to remove the training wheels comes, they may be fearful.
Keep the following in mind:
Praise your child more often, so that they know that they can do it.
Start teaching the child little by little — train your child to ride without pedals, by pushing themselves off the ground. A similar procedure needs to be carried out on the balance bicycle:
It’s easier to maintain balance when you are not thinking about pedals. When falling onto the side, it is necessary to quickly place feet on the ground. After an hour-long training without pedaling, teach them to keep balance while pedaling simultaneously.
Balance is one of the three basic skills in cycling. To teach this while teaching to pedal, stick to the following plan:
Don’t forget to look out for your children and to encourage them. Do not scold them for mistakes, and praise them only if it is justified. The child should feel your support.
You might be thinking, what is so special about that? Nevertheless, your child will show you what the problem is with the pedals. Only a few children agree to pedal starting from the first time. Children refuse to place their feet on them, and this annoys their parents. Experienced coaches advise tying the legs to the pedals so that the rioting child has no chance of jumping off the bike. It may be possible in the case of a tricycle, with parental support and when riding around the room, despite sounding quite brutal. But this would certainly not work with a two-wheeled bicycle. This may also discourage the child from cycling for a lifetime.
Parents who have passed the tricycle test, already know how the beginner cyclist was reacting, and how they began to pedal. However, if you missed the balance bike or tricycle steps, then the first thing to do is to explain to the child that when the pedals are turning, the bike is moving forward.
After that, assist the novice cyclist to sit on the saddle correctly and to pedal in the following ways:
Dad or mom must hold the bike during the exercise. Continue the training until the child learns to find the foot pedal quickly and by touch. Make sure that they place their feet correctly. Pedaling with the toe leads to the feet jumping off the pedal, and, as a consequence, to a sharp stop and fall.
Braking is the third skill that cannot be neglected while riding. Perhaps the child will not learn how to stop right away. Do not be discouraged, as not even all adults know how to brake properly, therefore, it is not correct to demand this from children.
Ideally, the cyclist should use both the front and rear brakes, with the front one being used 2 out of 3 times, and the rear one – 1 out of 3. Only more experienced cyclists can distribute the effort correctly and master this technique. A beginner may strive for this, however, most importantly, they need to be taught the basics of safe braking. To make the process part of tacit knowledge, use the two following techniques with your child:
Carry out the training sessions in a playful manner so that interest in the process does not become lost, but also so that there is no sensation of constant testing. It is better to start them when the first two skills have already been mastered, when the young cyclist knows how to maintain balance and has already learned how to pedal. Take the time to develop the skill of reaction. These 2 exercises will help to react to the situation on the road, and then allow to quickly brake at traffic lights and intersections.
Riding the bicycle may be traumatic. Falls will eventually happen and this is normal. In order to protect your little one from injuries, ensure that they have got the following:
The equipment will be useful for children that are not very stable on the road and that have trouble controlling the steering of the bike.
Choose the protection kit to fit the size. Buy a helmet that fits with regards to the circumference of the head. Choose a lightweight, but a durable and child-friendly model. Also, pay attention to footwear. It is not allowed to ride barefoot, and sandals and slippers do not provide sufficient traction.
Traffic rules are the basis to which beginner cyclists are introduced to be able to ride without adult supervision. Explain the rules of behavior on the road and talk about respect for other participants in road circulation. Create a set itinerary based on which it is possible to drive from your home to the nearest park safely. Walk through it with the child, focusing on sections with busy traffic.
Dangerous routes and falls from a bicycle are not the only dangers for a child. Parents need to be particularly vigilant during the summer holidays. We suggest reading our article on Summer safety for children to learn more on the matter, to be alert and to pass on this information to your children.
The principle of training is the same, the difference lies solely in the approach. You, as a parent, know how to engage your child. Riding the bike is to be broken down into the following steps:
Training a left-handed child differs in terms of the position of the bicycle near the child. Move from one activity to another after the child overcomes their fear and copes with the task.
The place for training and subsequent cycling should be smooth, with enough light, without cars and without direct access to the roadway. The road can be of either asphalt or dirt. It’s easier to ride on asphalt, however, falling on the lawn is much less painful.
Note that children under the age of 7 years old can only ride under parental control. From 7 to 13 years old, they can ride in the park area and on bike paths. 14-year-old teenagers can cycle along city roads in the same way as adults.
Keep a peace of mind for your child during bicycle rides and walks on the streets, in parks and in forests. Know where your child is at all times and which pathway they took with the “Find my Kids” app available on AppStore and GooglePlay.
Do not buy the means of transport ‘for the years to come’ and for future usage. Choose it according to height and not age. Adjust the height of the front set and the saddle. Ensure your child has got the necessary protective equipment.
Read the step-by-step instruction and learn how and which bicycle to choose for the child.
Before putting the baby on a bicycle, choose the appropriate transport and help them to get rid of fear. Start with a tricycle and then teach them to ride a two-wheeled bike. Use the training wheels to prevent falls. Teach everything step-by-step: from the ability to maintain balance to the abrupt braking at high speed. Find a special approach for the child, support them and repeat all exercises several times.
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