As an adult who learned to ride decades ago, you might take the act of biking for granted. You’ve heard the saying, “It’s like riding a bike,” where people refer to biking as something that, once you learn you never forget. That is exactly where you are as someone who’s been riding for thirty odd years, but for a child the first ride can be exciting, overwhelming and even terrifying – and as a parent, you’ve got to get them through that.
The most challenging aspect of getting going on a two wheeler is finding the balance. When there are other elements that come into play (like holding the handle bars steady and finding and fumbling with petals), gaining that initial balance becomes even more of a challenge.
Instead of going out and buying a traditional two wheeler that fits your little one, consider a “balance bike” for teaching purposes. There are a number of brands on the market (made from all different materials) that look like regular bikes, but that have no pedals. This unique feature allows kids to get comfortable and find the balance they need to ride a “big kids” bike without struggling with the coordination aspect of the pedals at the same time.
When your child falls (and they will) the fact that there are no pedals or extra moving parts cuts down on the number of things that they can get injured by as well. If you’ve already purchased a traditional bike you can still teach your child the balance aspect of riding first, just break out your tool belt and take the pedals off for the same effect.
After a few days of practice on a pedal-less bike most kids are confident and comfortable enough to take the next step. Hit the store (or bike exchange) for the right sized ride (or slap the pedals back on your traditional two wheeler) and get them riding for real.