Important points to remember before introducing your child to the joy of cycling
- For a successful approach break down cycling into manageable steps
- Do NOT set a time limit i.e. 'my child is going to learn riding in 1 month'. All kids will learn at their own pace. We have to enable them. Rushing forward too quickly can result in frustration and will undo all the good work you have done.
- Practice when you or your child is at their best. E.g. both are in a good mood.
- Erase Expectations - We all want our child to succeed but often that results in making them feel like a failure.
- When they are done, they are done. NO USE FORCING THEM. BIKING SHOULD BE FUN.
- In addition to teaching cycling - work on core strength, balance and strengthening of arms and legs
- Every session should have a purpose or end goal. E.g. Ride the cycle to the playground and when you reach the playground, have them get off the bike and play at the swings slide.
- Helmet is compulsory especially when teaching balancing on a cycle. Start early , when you are teaching them how to ride a tricycle. Have them pick it out when you are buying it, it will help them accept it .
- When teaching them how to bike, make it a play date with another child with his bike/tricycle. Or have the child watch the parents bike, have a family date.
Points to consider when buying or fitting a tricycle for your child
- Handlebars: Ideal position is close to trunk or angles towards the trunk with the child seated on the tricycle seat. Want to ensure the child can grasp both handlebars comfortably without leaning forward much to alter the centre of gravity for his body.
- Pedals: pedals need to be positioned close enough to the seat to allow child to comfortable rest feet flat on pedals as they move within the complete revolution of the pedal.
- Seat: Ideal seat includes some back support at least 4-5 inches high. A bucket seat or a contoured one will also help support the child's trunk. This support will be important you ensure more effective forward motion and help child build momentum when pedalling.
- Base: A wider base provides more stability for child and less chances of tipping over.
- In addition, think about a way to secure child's feet on the pedal, especially as child is only beginning to learn the pattern of pedalling. Allowing the child to experience the whole revolution of the pedals as the tricycle moves forward with external assistance (e.g. parents pushing) will help teach the skill. Get creative with Velcro to secure feet. However the child will not be able to put their foot out to catch themselves if the tricycle tips , so stay close by and monitor for safety to prevent tipping.
Teach your children how to ride a tricycle.
Figure out where your child falls in the process, he may have already mastered the earlier steps and may need work on the later steps. Take your time with each step. DO NOT RUSH. Let riding be fun and do not let him/her have a negative association with riding the tricycle/bike. Use loads of incentives /rewards for good work. At the end of the program, I have discussed additional tips/ ideas for the child if you are facing difficulties in the process.
Steps 1-3 can be practiced on a tricycle or a riding toy ( a picture of a riding toy will be included below ). Please do read post no.1 before starting the program.
STEP 1 - Teach the child to first Climb on and off the riding toy or Tricycle:
*Hold toy/trike to prevent it from sliding
*Ensure the child is standing next to seat with body facing the handlebar
*Have the child hold on to handlebars with both hands and encourage him to lift leg, closest to seat, up and over the seat and sit down
*Teach child to climb off. Child can stand up, hold onto handlebars, lift leg over seat and dismount.
*Practice till the child can do this independently
This step can overlap with the other steps. You can do it simultaneously with the others.
STEP 2 - Teach scooting forward on Riding Toy/Tricycle(Trike)
Scooting means instead of the pedals using feet to push on the ground to move the trike forwards.
*Children typically learn to push backwards first. Facilitate forward movement by holding child's lower legs with bent knees and pushing feet against the ground to move forward. Repeat and then give the child the opportunity to perform this by self. PROVIDE INCENTIVE TO MOVE FORWARD.
*Another way to facilitate forward scooting as opposed to backwards, is have the child start with his tricycle's back touching a wall, so he can't move reverse but only forwards.
*First have the child push with both legs at the same time and then begin with alternate legs .
*Another Tip to assist with the forward scooting is to have the child lean forward.
Facilitate this by placing your hand against their lower back and providing a gentle forward pressure.
-- Once the child can scoot forward move to the next step.
STEP 3 - Steering on Tricycle/Riding Toy
*Practice steering with your hand over his/her hands on handle bar, demonstrate and give verbal and visual cues. Let the child practice by self then.
*Allow Child to bump into obstacles initially.
* Then assist - use word 'Turn' by placing your hands over child's to turn handle. Let the child scoot forwards and when he encounters another obstacle, help again and repeat until they start to reflexively turn handle themselves.
-- Teach pedalling and steering separately
-- If you have been practicing step 1-3 on a riding toy, move to a tricycle for the further steps.
STEP 4 - Ride Tricycle with support to pedal and steer:
*Tricycles which have a push handle at the back are good for this, as this makes it easier for parents to push.
Activities to work on Core strengthening of arms and legs
These are just a few examples, maybe parents can reply to his post with ideas of their own which have worked with their kids.
1) Pushing pulling activities
2) Climbing stairs on all fours
3) Squatting and bending to pick up objects from the floor
4) Marching in the Sand.
5) Bridging- holds
6) Superman position while on tummy on floor, on swing or on a large ball
8) Wheelbarrow walking/ walking on hands while the parent holds the child's legs
11) Walking like an animal - bear crawl, kangaroo jump, snake slither, crab walk, frog jump
12) Negotiate obstacle course
13) Walking on a zigzag line , curvy line
14) Walking on a mattress / uneven surfaces.
If a parent is not familiar with any of the above mentioned exercises, they may search for the same on YouTube ( When doing so, please don't forget to specify the keyword 'children' )
Shifting from tricycle to bicycle is easy. Shift from tricycle to a bicycle with support wheels, & gradually remove the support wheels.