Learning to ride a bike without training wheels can be tricky. Teaching kids how to do it can be just as hard for parents!
Try these tips for transitioning from four wheels to two wheels. Make it easy on your kiddo and get ready for some great family bike rides to end the summer with a lot of fun!
Can you remember needing training wheels? Once you learn to ride a bike, it’s hard to recall what it felt like to be unsteady on two wheels. For kids, the thought of ditching the training wheels can be downright terrifying. Learn how to help your child transition from the wobbly ride of training wheels to the smooth speed of gliding around just like a grownup.
Look for signs of readiness
If your child is beginning to gain speed and balance, it may be time to ditch the training wheels. As with any physical skill, practice goes a long way. Make sure your child has plenty of time to play on her bike before you start thinking about moving to the next level. If your child has ridden a balance bike, she may be a few steps ahead when it comes to balance and coordination. Children who ride skateboards or perform other balance-related activities may also have an easier time moving to two wheels. Watch for confidence in riding down inclines, taking turns, stopping and navigating bumpy areas.
Raise the training wheels
Before you remove the training wheels from your child’s bike, raise them about an inch on each side. This will allow your child to learn to pedal and glide using only two wheels without completely removing them. If your child tilts on the bike, the training wheels will catch the bike. This way, he has a chance to try to balance without totally removing the safety net. It also catches the bike if your child slows to a stop. During this stage, teach your child how to put his feet down upon slowing so you don’t end up with a kid who crashes up into the nearest lawn to slow down and stop.
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Hit the pavement
Get your exercise clothes on, because it’s time to start running. Your child’s first solo rides won’t really be solo. You’ll be right there, holding onto her seat and ready to catch her. During this stage, consider purchasing a bike trainer handle that gives parents something to hang onto without bending over to hold onto the seat. When you begin these first rides without training wheels, make sure you’re biking in an isolated area free of traffic and sharp obstacles. Consider biking in short grass or on firm dirt. If your child falls, encourage her to get back on the bike as quickly as possible. Don’t be discouraged if it takes several days to get going or if you need to revert to training wheels for a while.
Don’t forget to teach them about safety
Once your child is zooming around on his bike, it’s important to teach bike safety and traffic laws. Go on rides together as a family. While you bike around, teach by example, remaining in bike lanes and following traffic signals. Everyone in your family should always wear a bike helmet when riding. Visit your local bike store to make sure everyone’s helmet is fitted properly. Biking gives your kid more freedom and mobility. Use this as an opportunity to set reasonable boundaries and discuss strangers.