Riding is undoubtedly one of the most popular and enjoyable outdoor activities for kids. With a balance bike or training wheels, they can have fun and develop essential skills in life. However, some children might be a little bit hesitant to take up this hobby when they see big handlebars and wheels.
There are many reasons why some kids are scared of learning to ride. For example, they might be afraid of falling off or getting hurt after an accident. Also, taking up new things might require a lot of hard work for young children, who just want to play around with friends. Either case, parents can change their perception and encourage these little ones to try cycling.
To make it easier for you, here are a few useful tips on how to teach a reluctant child to ride a bike.
1. Prepare the kids
Children as old as 3 years old can start riding a bike. As said earlier, the main reason why your children hesitate to ride a bike is that they aren’t confident and feel afraid.
Thus, it is important to create a positive outlook and show your moral support by telling your kids how fun it would be to ride a bike. Avoid mention getting hurt or falling, just saying some encouraging words as they start getting on the bicycle.
Also, use assured and benevolent voice to project ”Great job”, “You can do it”, “Keep moving”. These acts can be effective in getting rid of their fear so that your children can feel confident and be willing to spend time with biking.
2. Set limits instead of deadlines
In the beginning, most kids might feel like the training session might last forever without an end. Thus, it’s a good idea to use a timer and set the limits for each step. Depending on the temperament and age of your children, decide the amount of time and number of day to practice each week, then divide each task accordingly.
For example, they’ll have 3 minutes to tie the shoes, 10 minutes to move their bike to the end of the street, and 10 minutes for potty breaks. Do not set deadlines because every kid learns at their own rates. Instead, make them always feel good about their efforts no matter how long it would take.
Every kid loves gifts and presents, so why don’t you help them overcome their reluctance by promising some small rewards if they achieve daily goals? An ice cream in the hot day or a new toy can be a great option to encourage your children to try their best on riding.
However, do not go crazy and promise a trip to Disney Land because the stakes can be too high and might add pressure to your little ones.
4. Set examples
Showing by examples is the most effective way to make your kids feel confident and get on the bike. Firstly, you should guide them how to wear a helmet, hold the handlebar, and sit on the seat properly.
After that, make sure they have the right posture with their body centred on the bicycle and straight up. Knees should slightly point into the bike, and arms should slightly bend. If possible, it’s a good idea to have your own bike and practice alongside your kids.
5. Choose soft surfaces first
It is advisable to avoid streets and sidewalks for the first biking lessons because there are too many dangers and distractions. Instead, you should choose an empty lot on a flat and soft ground. A grass field might be the best option because it would cushion falls and won’t be painful or intimidating as pavements.
6. Help with keeping balance
Once your kids have sat on the bike, make sure to support them by laying your hands on the neck, back, or shoulders without gripping too tightly. The goal is to keep them steady, not push forward or hold them upright.
After a few days, change to hold on the bike and gently assist to help your children learn how to keep balance. This can be wobbly and unsteady at first, so make sure to encourage them to push off with both feet.
Teaching reluctant (or stubborn) children to ride a bike can be a challenging task for every parent. But keep in mind that once they can take off, confidence and assertiveness will come to encourage your little ones to try what they’ve never done before. Just make sure to be patient, and your hard work will pay off.