Teaching your child to ride a bicycle is a huge milestone in their life. To help you on your way, here are10 top tips on how to achieve balance when teaching your child freedom on two wheels.
Summer is the season of cycling and a great time to teach your children to ride a bicycle for the first time. Merida and Australian Olympic Champion Libby Trickett show you how to get your child from novice to pro.
1. Safety, safety, safety!
Make sure your child is kitted out in proper safety gear, the bicycle has been safety checked and your child is aware of the rules when they venture out alone.
2. Stay away from stabilisers
Research has shown stabilisers slow the learning progress, so fast track your child to riding success with a balance bicycle.
3. Ensure correct height
Make sure your child’s bicycle is at a height where they can rest their feet flat on the ground. Support them from under the arms (not the handle bars) and, once they’re ready, let them go free as you run along behind. Encourage them to glide by lifting their feet above the ground.
4. Be patient
Transitioning from a balance bike to a normal bike (or taking off the stabilisers) can take some kids five minutes and some five months, so be patient and let them set the pace.
5. Bring on the brakes!
When your child uses a bike with brakes for the first time make sure you take the time to practice braking with them. Get your child to stand beside the bike, grab on to the bar and walk with the bike, practising using both brakes.
When your child moves up from the balance bike, the best way to support them is by holding their back or shoulders and gradually loosening your hold as they gain in confidence. Start by moving in a straight line on a fairly flat and soft, but firm, surface.
7. Build up
Once your child has nailed the start, pedal and stop, it's time to move onto steering. Start by getting them to pick a direction to go in rather than an object to go to, and build up to regularly changing directions. Once they get the hang of it, encourage them to practice figures of eight to tighten up their turning skills.
8. Angles are everything!
When your child starts off, pick a relatively flat slope, but as they gain confidence, pick those slopes with a little bit more of an incline. However, remember to do a break refresher beforehand to avoid them quickly becoming a dot in the distance!
9. Reward effort
Don't forget to impart a few nuggets of wisdom such as 'if you look down, you go down' and 'if at first you don't succeed, try, try again'. Also make sure you set clear goals with rewards and recognition when they get there.
10. Don't be terrified of tumbles!
By getting your child safely kitted up and choosing a good quality, sturdy children's bike, as well as safe spots to practice, you should avoid serious accidents. Don't be afraid to let them take the odd tumble, it's all part of the process!