There comes a time when your child becomes very active, where they need to be made busy by an outdoor hobby. Cycling is one of the best ways to keep your child occupied.
But cycling may not be an easy task when it comes to toddlers since they have to learn how to attain balance while riding. Fortunately, there is an easy, effective way to learn how to ride a balance bike.
Why a Balance Bike?
A balance bike is a pedal-less bike with two wheels. Most bikes of this kind come with at least one hand-brake. Children from the age of two years can learn how to ride using it.
There are many reasons a balance bike should be preferred to tri-cycles and scooters. One is that this bike teaches the toddler how to attain balance. A tri-cycle teaches the child to pedal hence when it is time to using peddled bicycles the child has to learn pedaling and balancing again.
Further, balance bikes shorten the time a toddler takes to learn how to ride. After learning how to balance, pedaling becomes easy. Also, tri-cycles tend to be unstable on rough or uneven grounds. This is a problem that balance bikes avoid.
Below are practical tips on how to teach your child to ride a balance bike. For safety purposes, you may equip your child with a helmet, elbow and knee guards.
Tips on how to teach your child to ride a balance bike
Tip 1: Set the bike right
Before the start of the training, ensure that the bike is well set. This entails cross-checking whether the saddle’s height is comfortable for your child. It should be low but very stable. The child must be able to rest feet on the ground without straining. Check that the brakes are functional.
Tip 2: Learn to use the brakes
When teaching the child how to use the brakes, use the ‘stop and start’ game. When doing this, walk slowly with your child and tell them to brake (stop) then continue (start). They should not be astride the balance bike at this stage.
Tip 3: Take the first steps
The aim of training is to help the child learn the art of riding. Before taking the first bicycle ‘step’, let the child get on the bike by themselves. This should be done a couple of times. Assess that the child can do this with ease then let them take two or three steps while on the saddle. You should refrain from supporting your child too much.
However, as a general precaution, your hands may be around the child without really touching them. This helps the child feel safe and confident. Your child may appear afraid at this stage and refuse to take any steps. Do not be alarmed. It is advised that you be patient and encouraging if your child seems unconfident in themselves.
Tip 4: Take the long steps
After your child has enough confidence to sit on the saddle and take steps, allow them to take long steps. They should travel a distance in this manner. This is referred to as scooting in professional training.
The ideal place to practice scooting is on a gentle slope; where the child neither struggles to push forward nor struggles to stop due to steep slopes.
As the child advances, their speed is expected to increase gradually. At the end of this stage, the child should be encouraged to push forward and lift both feet off the ground. This is the foundation of self-balance.
Tip 5: Learn to turn
Turning is introduced when the parent or trainer sees that the child can travel a distance with their feet off the ground. Avoid holding the steer as the child turns. If the child appears afraid to take a turn, you may place your hand around the steer without really touching it to restore their confidence. Turning may take some time since it requires a shift in balance. But with time, the child learns.
A child that takes the long steps and turns comfortably may transition to a peddled bicycle. The recommended age for peddled cycling is four years. Remember that every child learns at their own pace, and the fact that a neighbor’s child learnt more quickly than yours did should be an issue of concern.