Riding a bike is fun! Do you remember your first attempts? When you're shaky, but incredibly proud, rolling along the road. In the background one or both parents were cheering, maybe even the siblings? You will enjoy this experience next time as mum or dad. If you are no longer a child, questions arise that you never asked yourself before. When can I teach my child to ride a bicycle? What should I keep in mind when buying a helmet? Which bike size fits my child? I would like to answer these questions in more detail in the following article. You are reading a guest article by www.Baby-Kind-Blog.de.
Table of contents:
- When do I teach my child to cycle and how old must he/she be?
- What do I have to consider when buying a bicycle and bicycle helmet?
- How do I teach my child to ride a bicycle?
- Where is the best place to practice cycling?
- What else is there to consider when riding a bicycle?
When do I teach my child to cycle and how old must he/she be?
The age is absolutely dependent on the child. There is no clear age range when a child should or must learn to ride a bicycle. Orient yourself on when your child feels like it. It is also an advantage if your child can already ride a scooter and/or a tricycle. If it already maintains an increased balance on these bikes, it will also be possible or at least easier to ride a bicycle. Try not to push your child, but let it come up with the idea itself. Most of the time children look at it from different angles and from then on, it's just a matter of time before they want to drive themselves. If your child shows no motivation at all, you can try to motivate him.
It does not necessarily have to be able to ride a bicycle on the first day of school directly at school enrolment. At the latest in the 3rd to 4th grade of primary school, your child should learn to ride a bicycle. This is simply due to the bicycle exam that is taken in one of the two years (at least in most primary schools).
If your son/daughter already starts at kindergarten age, think carefully about where you practice and travel together. The viewing angle, as well as directional hearing, is still very limited at nursery school age. In addition, the sense of balance is normally not fully developed. Therefore, it is often advisable to use training wheels for kids at childhood age. This is not meant to be a ban, but if you are on the bike yourself, your child must be able to follow your instructions and must keep an eye on everything independently. You no longer hold your child by the hand, you can no longer intervene quickly yourself. In these moments your child is on its own for the first time and should be up to it.
What do I have to consider when buying a bicycle and bicycle helmet?
When your child is ready, the first preparations are made. First you need a roadworthy bicycle and of course a helmet. When buying a bike, you should measure the size and leg length of the child. The size is primarily for rough orientation only. The inside leg length is decisive. This is measured from the floor to the child's crotch.
Place your child against the wall so that it takes a straight posture. Now measure the distance from the floor to the crotch. This is the minimum height the saddle must reach at the lowest position. This is the only way to guarantee a stable stand on the bicycle. This means that your child must touch the ground with his feet while sitting on the saddle. If the stride length is 40 cm or less, the balance bike is wiser.
Between 40-44cm you will find the first 12 inch bikes. As soon as you know the stride length and size, you will find several size tables on the Internet with the corresponding inch specification for the bike. Beginner bikes are usually between 12-16 inches.
Otherwise a visit to the local bicycle dealer is worthwhile. There your child can sit in calm and try out different bicycles. As a general rule, new bikes are roadworthy, as they usually all have reflectors, cat's eyes, mudguards and lights. If you buy a used bicycle, take it to the nearest bicycle repair shop and have it checked out.
With the first bicycle a used bicycle is quite meaningful. It is not the appearance that counts, but stability. Your child will often fall over with it until it has the knack of doing it. Support wheels for the bike are not recommended. This may only prolong the necessary learning process. But of course everyone has to decide this for himself or his kid.
The right bike helmet:
If you have found a bicycle, only the bicycle helmet is missing. When buying a bicycle helmet, the presence of your child is helpful when trying out several models. The helmet must sit firmly on the head. Turn the locking wheel (at the back of the helmet) until the helmet no longer slips. It should not press, but should not be too loose. The chinstrap must be adjustable so that it sits firmly on the chin. As a measure one says that only one finger may fit in between.
Finally, the side straps should form a triangle around your child's ear. If all these points are fulfilled, the helmet fits. The next step is to make sure that the helmet is tested, i.e. carries the GS seal and has a date of manufacture. The date is important because a helmet should be replaced between 3-5 years. Reason for it is the plastic, which ages with the time and loses at stability. When fitting the helmet you should make sure that there is enough ventilation. Light and/or reflectors enhance your child's safety. There are also helmets with a rain cap or earmuffs, which are not absolutely necessary and it is up to you and your budget whether you want this addition.
How do I teach my child to ride a bicycle?
When everything is prepared, learning begins. This is where you are most in demand. If you show your excitement and insecurity, this emotional level will be reflected on your child. Stay calm and give your child peace of mind. First explain kicking and steering more precisely before it begins driving. You can also organize a little quiz, so learning has a playful flair and arouses more interest.
A good trick is to put your child on the bike, hold it and tilt it slightly to the left and right. Your child will notice that I am being held, even if it is wobbly. The safer your child feels, the faster it learns. Attention, hold only your child and not the bike. If you hold the bicycle, your child will not learn to balance and will rely too much on you.
When the pedals are fully pedaled and the balance is maintained, you can start with slight curves. After the turns, brake, it is one of the most important exercises. Ascent and descent must be trained and practiced as well as one-handed riding. Save the starting for the end. This is one of the most difficult tasks in cycling. At the beginning you should always give a little jump start. Other things that should be practiced are keeping track, going through bottlenecks, reacting to sudden surprises (like dogs and other cyclists), ringing the bell, looking around and riding behind each other.
Have the courage to let go in between. If you get the impression that your child can keep his balance and sits securely on the bike, let go for a moment. Celebrate this success extensively, even if it is only a short moment. Praise is the best thing you can do. It motivates and gives your child self-confidence. Praise is more important and more successful than rewards. Rewards motivate in a similar way, but they can put pressure on your child. Pressure should be avoided, so consider carefully whether you want to start with rewards. In this process, you can approach each other piece by piece.
Where is the best place to practice cycling?
The best way to learn is on a smooth surface. Concrete is not bad and better than uneven alternative surfaces. In addition, the environment should be as traffic-free as possible and offer few distraction possibilities. Large schoolyards, parking lots or country lanes are often suitable for this. It is important that your child can try his or her skills without sudden obstacles. If your child is already very safe, you can now try out other surfaces, such as meadows or gravel paths.
Don't go out on the streets with your kid too soon. Only when it can safely brake, climb up and down, ring the bell, drive with one hand and react to instructions while driving. Only then is it ready for normal traffic. At the beginning, small bicycle tours through forest and field paths, where little or no car is to be expected, are suitable.
What else is there to consider when riding a bicycle?
Your kid's gonna fall down a lot, that's no reason for drama! Of course, you don't want your child to get hurt. But traps, too, have to be learned. Comfort your child and explain to him that everyone falls at the beginning and only the "getting up again" counts. But because of the danger of falling it is advisable to wear long clothes. To avoid larger abrasions or the like. Clothes should get dirty or get holes.
If your child is very scared, wait to let go. Some children take longer to develop a sense of security. If your child does not succeed in the first 15-20 minutes, you should finish the first practice. After 20 minutes the concentration decreases and it is frustrated faster. You should avoid frustration. Many children give up quickly due to frustration or lose their lust as a result. If this is the case, you need a lot of patience and your child needs a lot of motivation. Try to plan the exercise times as regularly as possible. If the time intervals are too long, the learning process is less effective. Another little trick are children who can already ride a bicycle. Let them ride their bicycles together, this often motivates children the most.
It's also possible that your child isn't ready. That happens and is not bad. It is important that you do not show your child your disappointment or even blame him. He himself will be sad enough about it. If this is the case, unscrew the pedals of the bike and use it first as a training kiddie wheel. So your child can still get used to the bike. A step back to the training wheel is also not a broken leg, at least this is our experience with our daughter. 🙂
Finally, you should be a role model. From now on you should wear a bicycle helmet (if this is not already the case), pay attention to the traffic rules and do not race. If you do not keep to it, your child will not.
Maybe now you've realized that you don't have to pressure yourself either. Every child needs its own time and its own way. You have to find your way together in team and should not compare yourself with others. It is important that you feel comfortable and safe. So you will soon experience your first small bicycle tour to the next ice cream parlour. Then the ice cream will taste even better.
Also e.g. Sundays - the common bicycle ride to the baker to get freshly baked rolls - strengthens the bond and is a welcome training to strengthen and improve the cycling and the associated skills.
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