You know that saying, it’s just like riding a bike, when you think about doing something you haven’t done in a while but innately remember, like your muscles and sensory patterns are hard-wired to recall the right sequences of movements, balance and exertion required? It used to really annoy me. I found it difficult at first, finding my proverbial feet on two wheels, jealous of my brothers talent for the superman or the suspended bunny hop over the make shift jump he’d constructed on our down-hill driveway. But then, I got it. I woke up one day and suddenly I figured out the missing ingredient in riding a bike – Confidence. Now, as I watch my niece struggle on her training wheels, disheartened by the lack of progress and slow pace of her pistoning little legs, I remember it’s a rite of passage we all must go through.
|Training wheels Off|
Time goes rolls and you’re now in the position of the teacher, the patient mentor standing on the sidelines as your children or child make heads or tails of the handle bars, brakes and the frustration of not quite getting it. While there is no right or wrong pace to teach children this skill for life (and it does last for life, damn saying), there are certain methods you can employ to make sure they learn with self-assurance.
Discard the Training Set
Training wheels are fantastic for little kids trundling after their parents on family rides; they provide security and time for the kid to familiarize themselves with the bikes saddle and the coordination required to pedal. There comes a point however where you’ll need to take these helpers off and let them find their balance, lowering the seat so their feet can touch the ground. Ask the kids to coast the bike, using their feet to brake when needed until they’re confident.
|So Happy with her Accomplishment Riding a Bike without the Training Wheels|
Take it By Degrees
Even after you remove the training wheels, you still must supervise. Ask your child to check their bike before they mount, testing the pedals, rotate the wheels and trying the axel for any resistance. After everything is okay, ask them to strap on their helmet and change their shoes, if they aren’t wearing good, study rubber soled sneakers. Give them a push, holding the back of the seat and motivate them to pedal, letting go when they have a decent momentum, running alongside in case they get into trouble. Soon, they won’t want your help, as their balance and confidence increases.
Going in Circles
Cornering can be pretty tricky if they’ve only been practicing in straight lines, but kids are pretty smart. Turn it into a competition and set up an obstacle course, incentivising with a favorite activity – figure eights, zig zags and orange cones will build their skill set as you raise the difficulty level.
Do you have any tips for other parents out there, facing the same challenges as they guide their children through a modern childhood lesson? What bike would you recommend for a first-timer? Where did you buy your child’s bike, a place like 99 Bikes or a local favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
|Going in Circles in the Grass so she won't get hurt when she falls|