How to teach children to ride a bike: balance and confidence, these are the two necessary elements. Expert advice
Teaching children to ride a bicycle
“There is no more or less suitable age for ride a bicycle. On the contrary, I personally recommend putting the child in the conditions of try as soon as possible” He says Silvia Malaguti, in charge of the didactic activities of the Italian Federation of Friends of the Bicycle (Fiab) of Milan and author of the manual “Kids on bikes. Tips and good practices for cycling with the family” (Ediciclo Editore).
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1. Never use wheels
«To ride a bicycle you need to learn to balance and, to do so, you also have to fall down sometimes. That’s why, since the child is very small, even towards the 18 months, I suggest you let him try one bicycle without pedals»Explains the expert.
The bike must be low enough for the little one to be able to place the entire sole of the foot on the ground. «In this way, he will understand that the bike does not fall, because his own legs support it – continues Malaguti -. The children who ride bikes with wheels, on the other hand, do not understand this mechanism, because it is precisely the wheels that keep the bicycle upright ».
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2. With the pedal bike
Towards i 3-4 years, it is the right time to offer the little ones one bike with pedals. “There is no particular model, just some precautions to pay attention to. The first concerns the size: they must be suitable for those of the child. In addition, it must have the adjustable saddle so that it is able to put the entire sole of the foot on the ground. Only after will he learn to manage the bike while standing on the tips – explains the Fiab manager -. Then the child is told to push yourself without putting your feet on the pedals and, in case they bother, they can also be disassembled. In this way, he will understand that when he is stationary he can support the vehicle with his legs, while when in motion it is the same speed that keeps it up ». In addition, he will develop his sense of balance as he corrects his trajectory to avoid falling.
3. Encourage them
To instill confidence in them, you can cheer them on and stimulate them through play. “For example, you can challenge them to see how far they go without pushing the bike. In this way – continues the expert – they will be forced to keep their feet off the ground for a longer and longer time, becoming more and more familiar with the vehicle ». When they do several meters with their legs raised, then they will be ready to pedal.
4. The departure
«The simplest method to teach the child to leave is to learn how to do it with your legs on the ground. Tell him to start pushing himself and then put his feet on the pedals once they are in motion. When he is good, then you can teach him the classic method of keeping the pedal high and then give the first quick push »advises Malaguti.
5. The braking
“Another important thing to teach is how to brake. Take the handlebars in your hand while the child is pedaling and, at a certain point, warn him that you are about to let go. At that moment he has to brake and, at the same time, put his feet on the ground in order to stop the vehicle. Let him repeat the operation two or three times and you will see that he has already learned »says Silvia Malaguti.
A detail to check before introducing this step concerns the hardness of the brakes: If you find that they are too difficult to use, ask a technician to loosen them a little.
6. Mistakes not to make
“Parents must avoid supporting the child from the saddle, or reduce this help as much as possible – says the author of the manual “Bimbi in ciclo” -. The little one must succeed alone in the intent. And then you have to avoid showing your disappointment if it fails: you have to give it time to assimilate the information and experiment. They have all learned to ride a bike, he will do it too ». Another foresight is that of don’t make him wear shorts, because at least a fall is likely and therefore better to avoid getting hurt or frightened by a skinned knee.
“However, it is good avoid over-protecting children or to shower them with anxieties: otherwise they will associate riding a bicycle as something dangerous and they will not want to do it or they will be afraid of it “, he specifies.