Teaching your kids to ride bikes without training wheels is an exciting time. It is so fun to watch your kids zoom around the neighborhood on their own bike. They get a taste of freedom they’ve never had before! That being said, learning to ride a bike doesn’t always come easy. The age-old catechism “like learning to ride a bike” doesn’t apply to every child.
I’ve taught 3 of my kids to successfully ride a bike. One of them hopped onto his bike for the first time, and peddled off with no problems. It was easy. My first child on the other hand, spent weeks yelling, kicking his bike every time he bit the asphalt, and feeling extremely frustrated.
I wish I would have known with my first son what I know now. We both would have felt less upset by the process of learning to ride a bike.
Wait until they are ready to ride bikes without training wheels
The number one thing you can do to increase the likelihood of your child being successful at riding a bike, is to wait until they are ready. All kids develop differently and reach different milestones at different times. Some kids will be ready to ride a bike as early as 18 months old, while others won’t be ready until they are eight!
This is important because a child’s confidence on their bike will be directly affected by their ability to balance and control it. If your son or daughter has good balance, they are much more likely to get on the bike and try again when they fall off. They know that if they can do it once, they can do it again. If they are unsure of their balance, or have a hard time controlling the bike, they will be less likely to get back on and try again after falling down.
Give them plenty of time to practice
One of the biggest reasons my oldest son struggled to learn to ride a bike was because we didn’t practice. We had toddler twins at the time and I often didn’t have the capacity to spend time helping him learn to ride. Once we moved into a neighborhood that gave us more opportunities, and his younger siblings were a little older, he was able to ride his bike within a week. If you child is struggling to learn, try to give them more opportunities to ride. Every day if possible!
The best way to teach your child to ride a bike without training wheels is by giving them plenty of time to practice. Make sure you are patient, and allow them to try at their own pace. When they fall down, help them get back up and continue practicing. Eventually they will be able to ride around the neighborhood on their own!
It’s tempting to think that your child should be riding a bike within just a few tries. But not every child is going to pick it up that quickly. One of my kids did, but the others have had their own timetables. One of them practiced and practiced for about 4 weeks before they felt confident enough to leave the road in front of our home. It’s frustrating to watch your kids struggle and feel like they aren’t making any progress. But it is important that you give them the time and space needed to work through their frustration. You can help by giving them positive encouragement every single day, helping them get back up after a fall, or even taking off their training wheels for them.
Skip to the bikes without training wheels
Training wheels can be a crutch for kids. Many times they give children the false sense that because they have training wheels, they don’t need to practice balancing on their own. When you take off the training wheels, it is much more difficult for them to balance and often leads to falls.
We are planning on teaching our youngest to learn to ride soon, and will not be putting training wheels on his bike.
Choose the right bike
When your child is first learning to ride a bike, it’s essential that you start with a smaller bike than you realize. This is one of those areas where you don’t want them to “grow into it”. I would recommend a bike with 12″ or 16″ wheels. This will make it easier for them to balance and control the bike. We have a bike that’s almost exactly like the one below. It’s been great for helping our kids learn to ride a bike without training wheels.
Take off the pedals
Balance bikes are bikes without pedals. They can be a great way for your child to learn balance before adding in the complexity of pedaling. Some parents will buy a balance bike. We did! You can also just take the pedals off from their current bike for your own DIY version of a balance bike!
Pick the right spot
When your child is first learning to ride a bike, it’s best if you choose a flat space without any potential obstacles. A driveway or road in front of your home can work well as long as there aren’t cars coming and going (I would recommend using cones or something similar). Another option could be an empty cul-de-sac. That is where our kids learned. If your driveway has a slight slope to it, even better. The slope can be a great way to get your child started without overwhelming them with a big hill.
Learn to use the brakes
When your child is first learning to ride a bike, make sure you teach them how to use the brakes properly. If they don’t know how to brake, it can lead to some pretty scary moments as they try and figure out how to stop! I would suggest practicing on grass or sand so that if they do fall over while braking, it won’t be as harmful.
Focus on balance first, then pedals
As you teach your child to ride a bike, make sure you start by focusing on balance. Don’t worry if they can’t pedal at this stage–they’ll get there! Just focus on helping them stay upright for as long as possible before falling over (again).
Encourage your child to practice moving their bike in large circles. This will get them used to making turns before they have to worry about turning while pedaling.
Talk about road safety
Once your child is able to ride their bike with some level of confidence, it’s important to talk about road safety. Teach them how to look for cars before crossing the street and remind them that they should always stop at stoplights and intersections. You should also make sure they have a good helmet that they can wear while bike riding.
You can even set aside a specific time to go over road rules. Even older kids can benefit from a reminder.
Need more ideas for Family Fun? Read: The Ultimate List of 50 Family Night Ideas
Once you remember these few steps, teaching your child to ride a bike will be a breeze!