Sometimes It's Easy, Sometimes It's Not
I'm a father of 3 kids, ages 9, 7 and 4. Two sons and a daughter.. As many of you parents out there can relate, your own kids are so different at how they approach things, and how confident or apprehensive they are about things, that it creates challenges as a parent as to how you can get a particular child to learn and master a particular skill.. In this case, my daughter, who is 9, was VERY apprehensive about learning how to ride a bike.. For about 3 years, I really tried to find different ways to get her excited and confident enough to ride a bike, but she was so fearful of hurting herself (because she had early on several times), that I found it difficult to do this, without scaring her even more by her falling and hurting herself again.. My middle son learned how to ride a bike in a few hours, after taking off the training wheels..
The Bike's Height Has to Be Right..
The first thing that has to be right for an apprehensive kid, or even a willing kid, to learn to ride a bike is the bike's height has to be appropriate for your child. If your child can sit on the bike, with their feet flat on the ground on either side, then this will make it so much easier in the learning process, both with balance and confidence.
How to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike - The Secret's in the Grass
The Secret's in the Grass..
That's right, the grass. Finding a nice, gentle slope of thick grass can make a big, psychological difference as compared to pavement in a kid's mind. It worked for my daughter, and can work for your child. All you need is enough slope for the bike to continue moving on its own, for it to work. Check out the video to the right on what to look for..
How to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike - The Straight Leg Technique
The 'Straight Leg' Technique
Before you start pushing your child to start pedaling right when they're off training wheels, consider the 'straight leg' technique.. Instead of pedaling, just have them go down a gentle slope (preferably grass to start), and keep their legs straight, off the pedals, near the ground. This will give them confidence knowing they can adjust themselves if they start tilting one way or the other when their moving. Check out the video to the right demonstrating this..
How to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike - Pedaling in the Grass
Pedaling in the Grass
Once you've got your child comfortable with the 'straight leg' technique in the grass, start incorporating the pedaling.. This is where my daughter finally got it, and started riding her bike.. Once they get the feel for the balance with the 'straight leg' technique, the pedaling comes more naturally. Once a bike is in motion, the centrifugal force of the movement tends to make balancing far more easier for a child, and the pedaling actually reinforces that feeling the more they do it. Check out the video at the right..
How to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike - Longer Distance Pedaling in the Grass
Longer Distance Pedaling in the Grass
Now, once they've gotten the hang of short distance pedaling in the grass, I moved to another area of my yard, where there was a longer distance of grass to practice her pedaling, reinforcing that she can go far pedaling her bike. This seemed to really boost her confidence. One of the things I discuss in the video to the right is the use of shin guards, mostly for use in soccer, as a means of protecting her inner calf and ankle area from hitting the pedals, if she fell.. Which she did a lot of earlier on, which caused a lot of her fear of riding in the first place.. So, slapping on a pair of shin guards, if your child is falling quite a bit, may add some confidence and reduce the fear of falling.. Check out the video, at right..
How to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike - Straight Leg Technique on Pavement
'Straight Leg' Technique on Pavement
Now, this probably seems like maybe too many steps in teaching a kid to ride a bike, but this worked for my apprehensive kid, and I believe if you follow these steps the way I did them, it'll really work, and reduce the apprehension and fear, making it more fun for them.. My Dad just pushed me down a hill at 6 and basically said "See ya".. I know many of you in their 30's and 40's probably experienced something similar. That's what therapists are for.... Now, once your kid has a handle on pedaling in the grass, find a nice long stretch of pavement (parking lot, driveway, whatever), that has a gentle slope, and do the 'straight leg' technique as seen in the video at right..
How to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike - Pedaling on the Pavement
Pedaling on the Pavement
Once they've got the 'straight leg' technique down on the pavement, they're pretty much riding a bike at this point, and this is where you get them pedaling on a bike, on the pavement. Just like learning on a regular bike, if your kid is still apprehensive with this step, try holding the seat for initial stabilization and gentle push of the bike.
This is a pretty cool moment for most parents, and is really quite rewarding to know that you were a big part in making it happen.. Check out the video at right..
Go Glider Balance Training Bike - Great Start in Learning How to Ride a Bike
Another Option - Go Glider Balance Training Bikes
Designed for school age learners, 5 - 10 years, who know that learning to ride a bike should be fun. The Go Glider Balance Training Bike is lightweight at only 10 pounds, with an easy-to-use child-size brake, an adjustable seat height, adjustable handlebar, and foot pegs. It's the perfect learning bike. There are no pedals and no training wheels and is meant to introduce kids to the balance and feel of a bike to make riding an actual bike easier and safer.
I bought this bike for my six year old son, after discovering the bike on Amazon.Com. It is a GREAT learning tool for kids, particularly because the pedals aren't in play, and they can use the straight leg technique to start, then as they gain confidence, can place their feet on the foot pegs, much like a sit scooter. It is truly amazing how fast a child can learn how to ride a bike using the Go Glider. I highly recommend it. Check out the short video at right to see how kid's techniques are used on the Go Glider in learning how to ride a bike.
Brian Anderson (author) from United States on February 02, 2012:
Thanks, jafruminc! Appreciate the great comments..
jafruminc from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on February 02, 2012:
This blog is really helpful for all parents who have kids who want to learn how to bike. Good work! Keep it up!
Brian Anderson (author) from United States on January 30, 2012:
Thanks, alekhouse. Appreciate the comments.. Yes, hands are full, but it's all good stuff.. Take care..
Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on January 30, 2012:
Good hub, Brian, with lots of useful information. BTW, you really have your hands full with those three kid.