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Learning how to ride a bike without training wheels is an exciting milestone for many children, but it does take a good amount of time, patience, and skill. We’ve compiled a list of tips that may make the process a bit easier as you set your child up for success.
Start young. The best ages to teach your child are between 4 and 6 years old. This can vary for every child, but the biggest factor is their own desire to learn. If you think they “should” learn to ride a bike, but they don’t express any interest, you may want to wait until they are ready.
Make sure the bike fits. Your child should be able to stand over the middle bar of the bike with both feet planted on the ground. Avoid getting a bike that is too large in hopes that your child will grow into it, because it will be harder for them to handle and control.
Balance is key. Start by teaching them to balance without worrying about the pedals. You could even try removing the pedals entirely and lowering the seat to allow your child to push themselves along. This process will help them to learn the feeling and balance required to stay upright.
Avoid training wheels. While training wheels help kids get accustomed with sitting on a bike and using their legs to pedal, they do not help with balance. If you use them, try not to let your child get too comfortable with them. Training wheels can create habits that will need to be broken when they are removed.
Find the right space. Pick an area that is traffic-free, flat, and smooth to start training. Though it may be tempting to reduce injury, avoid practicing in the grass as it can make it harder to build speed.
Hold your child, not the bike. It’s important for adults to avoid holding the handlebars during the teaching process. Doing so will hinder your child’s natural movements, making it more difficult for them to learn. Hold onto your child’s torso or under their armpits instead. This will allow them to learn how the bike reacts as they lean and accelerate.
Stay by their side. After your child begins to ride, it may be tempting to let them go off on their own. It’s key to stay by their side until they feel confident enough with stopping. If they crash or fall because you are not there to help in the early stages, this could scare them off a bike for good.
Join in! Children learn by copying others, so show them how it’s done. This can help them better understand what to do and it will be fun to experience it together.
Good luck and happy riding!