How to Teach Your Child to Ride a Bicycle

Cycling training – a different approach that works!

Hey, it’s much easier than you think. The old way of doing it (running behind or along side your child and pushing her) is an outdated and undue punishment for both you and the frustrated student. A punishment for you, the parent, because you quickly run out of breath (you’re not the sprinter you used to be in high school), and a punishment for your child because she doesn’t understand why on earth she crashes every time you’re getting tired and release your grip of her saddle. She realizes that learning to balance is a scary and stressing ordeal.

Well, I’m here to break the good news: kids aged 4 to 6 can easily and quickly (and I mean quickly) learn to independently ride without training wheels and without an adult gripping their saddle from behind.

The technique described here is much safer than the old one and has a much higher rate of success, based on the experience of many happy children who learned to ride this way.

This is how it works: remove the training wheels and remove the pedals from your child’s bicycle. Lower the saddle so your child can easily place both her feet on the ground while seated. From this point on, your young student takes full control. She is in charge of moving the bicycle, with no help from you, with no pushing or balancing on your part (unless she asks for it). You can compare the bicycle with no pedals to a two-wheel scooter, which kids love and enjoy riding and balancing with no fear.

A word on children’s capabilities: it may come as a surprise, but little children do have good instincts and common sense which translate into self esteem and confidence it they get a chance to use them. In the old way, the student is taught to rely on someone else to balance the bicycle, and not on himself. The adult was the one who controlled the situation, the movement, the speed. The adult was the one preventing crashes and providing a false sense of safety which crashed when he let go. This erodes trust and makes the experience scary.

With the suggested technique, your young student is the one making the calls. She determines how fast she goes, she is the one moving and balancing, and controlling the bicycle from the get go, she is the one preventing the crash by simply placing her feet on the ground. This builds trust. Trust in her capabilities. This builds self esteem and confidence.

You explain to your student that all she has to do is create a little movement ahead while balancing. You tell her that she can’t fall, because the minute something doesn’t feel right, she can always put her feet down on the ground (which is the starting position) and brake. She has to try and hold her feet in the air a little while and keep pushing this way.

Make sure you choose the right spot for this training: flat ground (no slopes), no vehicles, and no obstacles. You can also take her to the park and find a grassy field, so if she does crash, it’s a softer landing. Long pants are advisable, to prevent scratches when falling. Use this opportunity to teach your child to wear a helmet, so she can get used to it.

After just a couple of lessons your child will get the hang of it. Now she feels the balance, and she masters the first and very important skill of balancing. You can now replace the pedals, move the saddle up an inch, so her feet comfortably reach the ground, but not as easily as before.

Next, choose a grassy field with a gentle slope, and let your child go down the slope, balancing with her feet on the pedals. After a few runs, she will feel comfortable and add pedaling. It’s important you explain to her in advance how to apply the brakes. At this point all you have to do is behold the magic: your child enthusiastically pedals and just can’t get enough!

Many parents say that after years of painful failures, their child finally gets the hang of riding a bicycle with this technique. Enjoy.