Parents' Tips for Teaching a Child to Ride a Bike
By Michelle Ogilvie
From the practical to incredibly innovative, our trusted Frog parents bring to you their tried and tested parenting hacks on how to teach a kid to ride a bike!
As the saying goes, parents always know best, which is why we turned the tables and asked our Frog Bikes Facebook parenting community for their top tips for helping children ride a bike!
So, this time we are talking parent to parent, no gimmicks or techy jargon. Just straight to the point, tried and tested solutions to help you get your little ones cycling with minimal stress!
Creative Tips for Learning to Ride!
Get creative with your soft furnishings…
“We used a bed sheet with our daughter. Wrapped around her waist, held tight and walked next to her as she rode. Started to loosen it until she was riding on her own. It was amazing, took a very anxious 8 year old (who had always refused to learn how to ride the bike) 2 hours to ride unaided!!"
…Deborah Lunt, from Plymouth, a mum to two lovely girls and Founder/Manager of Little Stars Nursery, Redruth
This is one our favourites, after all, if you can’t wrap your little ones up in cotton wool why not wrap them up in a bed sheet instead!
Part of the process of learning to ride a bike is about comfort and reassurance, which is what they get from you as you stand by their side. It may be tempting to hold your child in a bid to better support them, but Deborah’s technique is a great way of gradually letting go, in keeping with their pace and comfort.
Innovative Kids Bike Modifications
“This little mod was everything….”
An innovative father and avid cyclist
Adding a rest to put their feet onto the Frog Tadpole is an ingenious approach to encourage your little one to coast on their balance bike!
The whole idea behind balance bikes is to let children have fun and get used to the bike in their own time. As parents, what we often forget is that during this process we should subtly encourage them to coast for short periods of time by raising their feet off the ground.
Once they get comfortable and gain confidence, we can then encourage them to coast more, in preparation for their ‘big bike’!
You can even remove the pedals from our first pedal bike range. This allows them to get used to a new bike without losing any confidence and then pop the pedals on once they are coasting with ease.
Divert their attention...
“Teach them to always check their bike when they fall it distracts them from the fall…”
Laura Margaret Jane Clayton, a creative mum
This is a classic way of distracting children…and honestly, it works every time!
It is very easy for children to lose sight of things surrounding them as they get caught up in their own activities. By focusing their attention on their beloved new bike you will help them distract them from their fall and get them back on their bike sooner!
Give them something great to imitate!
“Be the inspiration. Get out on your own bike and use it!”
James Russell, from Birmingham, an Engineer and very enthusiastic dad
In the inspiring words of Dr. Rita F Pierson: “Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them….and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” In fact, this can be you, their parent, so why not show them how it is done and have fun your bike as well!
Don't Buy Bikes to 'Grow Into'
Get the right bike...
"Start with a Balance Bike and then a small bike, don't be tempted to buy an expensive bike they'll grow into. We got a second-hand First Pedal bike and this meant it wasn't much bigger than his trusty Balance Bike, he went straight off and pedalled. Don't over bike them.”
Freya Kennedy, from South Lanarkshire, an active mum who loves her dog with a son who loves his Frog (bike!)
It is easy for parents to get tempted into buying a bigger bike for their child to grow into, in the hope they will get more use out of it.
As our research highlights, this is probably the worst thing to do for a child who is just learning to ride because if the bike is too big, they will struggle to ride it at all. With this in mind, we created the FrogFit app for our stores to accurately measure your child for the right bike, ensuring his first experience of riding is easy and fun.
Get a Hand of the Brakes
"Take pedals off the bike learn how to use the brakes first builds confidence then when you put pedals on they know how to stop worked with my lad really easy.”
Stephen Brummitt, from Wakefield, an avid cyclist and dad to a cheeky footy hopeful
Introducing the brakes early on not only ensures your child uses the brakes correctly, but also gives them the reassurance that they have control. Essentially, this instils confidence and assures them they have control of the bike.
This is easily achieved with the Frog Bikes’ First Pedal range.
“…get to a point where they can balance with minimal assistance then find a field with a very slight slope downhill start them off and let go.”
Phil Neath, Manchester, a cycling enthusiast and dad to two boys
Ok, so this may sound like a recipe for a trip to the A&E, but you are going to need to trust us on this one!
Once your child is confident on his bike, find a slope they can coast down without pedalling and build momentum. This will help them gain better balance and is fun too!
Find a Large Open Space
“Find space, they will stare at their feet! If they can’t bump into anything, they will feel what the motion and momentum is doing and may click sooner...”
Martin Ross, a cycling dad to one very cheeky monkey!
This is a useful technique to instil confidence, as the bigger the space the fewer hazards they will feel exposed to.
You also have the useful element of distraction too. If they focus their attention on their feet they will keep up the momentum of cycling, staying on their bike for longer.
Follow their lead…
“Our son didn't take to a balance bike, his second bike had training wheels and I panicked because he was pedalling backwards for a while - don't worry about that, it’s normal.
Also, the stabilisers were very unbalanced when our little one tried to turn too sharply. He got there, it took a bit of patience but he's now racing so I guess we got something right…. it literally took no more than a couple of hours of getting him onto his 1st frog bike and riding by himself. I think the lightweight made a massive difference, but also his willingness to learn.”
Mark Starford, from Newcastle upon Tyne, an active cyclist and proud father
Each and every child is individual (even siblings!), so just follow their lead encourage what they feel comfortable doing and tune into works for them. It’s nice to know what works for others from experience, but just listen to your child and find out what their individual needs are.
Nurture their confidence
“Gradual confidence built up is the key, the last thing you want is to dent their confidence at the very beginning!”
Hugo Matos, from Portugal, a former Tensai cyclist
Confidence has been a reoccurring theme throughout all the tips. Which I guess sums up all we want our children to achieve through cycling…to be bold, unafraid, challenge themselves, explore and take hold of new opportunities. All of which can be achieved through practice, so the earlier the better!
Keep it fun!
“Just keep encouraging them and make it fun…”
Mathew Evans, from Cwmaman, a loving dad keeping up to his two little cherub
When it boils down to it, all kids want to do is have fun, so just roll with it or why not join in too!
From birth to teens, children are learning at a dizzying rate and rely on you as their parents to educate and prepare them for the amazing journey that lies ahead.
As part of this process, we typically encourage them to read, write and get active to help nurture their minds and broaden their knowledge. In time, confidence becomes just as important, so encourage them to believe in themselves and their ability. Every fall off the bike is an opportunity for your child to try again and push their limits to their personal best!
With the summer holidays just around the corner, it may be the perfect time to get started on bicycle training.
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