Top 5 Things to Remember When Teaching Your Child to Ride a Bike
The pressure is on and many children have anxiety about moving fast, falling off, or disappointing an overly enthusiastic parent. Work for very short periods of time (10 minutes) and when the child begins to over think the process; STOP and take a break!
2. Make sure the height of the bike is appropriate for the size of the rider.
Kids learn best on a bike that is almost too small for them. They should be able to sit on the seat and place both feet flat on the ground but their knees should clear the handlebars when they pedal. They can move up a size once they are comfortable balancing, steering, and turning independently.
3. Give them time to process what they learned and what they are feeling.
Don't give a lot of verbal directions or shout a bunch of commands. Learning to ride a bike is a sensory experience and it does not have much to do with thinking; it must be felt with the body.
4. Don't hold on to the seat and the handle bars of the child's bike.
Place your hands gently on the child's shoulders to let them know you are there. Walk along side of the bike initially and help them shift their weight from side to side until they can feel when they are balanced. Move your hands in toward the spine as they begin to balance better and then just touch gently between the shoulder blades to let them know you are still there if they are nervous for you to let them go.
5. The eyes have it. Tell the child to look where they want to go and NOT where they want to "crash".
If the child looks down at the ground, that's where they will end up. Encourage them to look up. Kiddos with lower muscle tone or a weaker core tend to assume a flexed or crouched posture on the bike. Ask them to "get tall" and look far ahead toward where they want the bike to go.
Some children, for a variety of reasons, are more resistant to learning to ride than others. If your child is struggling and/or refusing to ride a bike, there may be simple answers to get them going. We can help you take the battle out of bike riding.
Sheri Ireland-Berk, PT
BDI Playhouse Children's Therapy