Learning to ride a bike is a milestone for not only a child, but the parent as well. As much as the task is an exciting venture into getting older, it can also be a discouraging and sometimes painful. By following a few simple tips, the process can be much smoother for both kids and parents, providing happy memories rather than frustrated faces.
Focus On the Positive
Take special attention to focus on the things the child did correctly and celebrate them before recognizing actions which need work. Actions which need work should be address, but don't dwell on them or the child can become discouraged. Finding the positive will keep the child motivated and morale high. When reporting to another child or adult about progress, only report the good things in front of the child and discuss what will be worked on next time so the entire endeavor feels like a success.
Break It Down
Riding a bike is a process which involves several smaller tasks. Spend time focusing on each separately before all are placed together. Focus on balance before attempting turning, then speed (the faster a child pedals, the easier balance becomes), and turning in circles before controlled turns around objects. Stopping requires confidence and swift coordination with feet that can be hard for some kids. Once speed and circles are figured out, try working on skids and stops. By separating the tasks, kids can have greater success at the entire process and gain confidence.
Get the Sillies Out
When learning to ride a bike, the experience should be fun but also require a certain amount of focus. Kids may be excited and can over exaggerate their ability, causing cocky behavior or inattention. Before practice starts, take two minutes to be exceptionally silly and "get the sillies out." Make faces, dance around, conjure up weird noises, and generally be ridiculous along with the child. At the end of two minutes, inform the child it is time to focus on whatever the specific task of the day is (balance, turning, speed, etc.) By getting the sillies out of them and allowing a time in the beginning for extreme craziness, the child is more apt to focus on the task at hand.
Don't Be Scared
Kids will recognize the fear of their parents. If the parent is scared of the child falling or getting hurt, the child will begin to fear the same thing. Falling is part of learning, so just be sure children wear a helmet and any other desired safety gear. Scuffed knees and a few bruises won't last long. To ease initial fears, allow children to begin by rolling down an extremely slight downhill slope.
Be Careful of Your Back
Purchase a support arm which attaches beneath the child's bike seat and has an angled handle for adults to be able to naturally walk. Leaning over a small bike and balancing it will hurt the lower back after very little time. The improved angle also allows for better grip and easier control. This will help parents support their kids for lengthy amounts of time and remove the drudgery.