Are Stabilisers Preventing Your Child From Learning to Ride a Bike?
Learning to ride a bike is a process that can be frightening for many children, and parents sometimes. Mastering the combination of motor skills required to steer, balance, pedal and brake in concert can often prove to be too much for young children. Parents rely on stablisers to help children become familiar with their bicycle, but this approach can often hinder a child’s development as a cyclist.
Stablisers, or training wheels as they are referred to in the US, do not train a child to ride a bike. In fact, they are a crutch employed by parents that actually prolongs the process of learning to ride a bicycle. As parents, we generally teach what we know and most of used training wheels as kids. However, there are alternatives.
New Approach – Balance Bikes
There is a new approach that’s gaining popularity as a method for teaching a child to ride a bike that is safer, more effective and faster than stabilisers. It’s a method that allows kids as young as two to start learning to ride a bike. The method more parents are turning to employs a pedal-less bicycle called a balance bike.
Balance bikes are designed specifically to teach very young kids to learn to balance on a bicycle without the complications of pedaling. They are built to be lightweight and the saddle sits very low with most models sitting just 12” from the ground. This makes the bikes easy to maneuver even for toddlers.
Kids propel the balance bikes forward by pumping their feet, similar to how they would ride a scooter or skateboard. Most kids will walk the bikes around at first then quickly gain confidence as they experiment with balancing the bike.
In just a few rides, most children will learn to balance on their own without a parent every helping or holding the bike steady. With a balance bike, kids learn through exploration and experimentation.
Most balance bikes include features that aren’t often available with traditional kid’s bikes. Many of the popular models have handbrakes that help teach kids how to use this braking method. Some balance bikes have turn limiters that prevent a child from making sharp turns that can cause a bike to flip. Others have pegs or footrests that train foot positioning despite the absence of pedals.
Learning to Ride a Bike
Teaching kids to ride a bike at an early stage has many benefits. Studies show that training motor skills early in a child’s development can improve their balance and coordination as they age. Encouraging a toddler to learn to ride a bike will also introduce them to fitness and exercise at an early age.
Most young kids are more open to experimentation and risk-taking while older kid’s brains can be consequence-focused. This leads to fear and anxiety that can be obstacles to enjoying the process of learning to ride. Teaching a boy or girl to ride at three is generally easier than teaching a school-age child.
If you have an active young child in your family, you may want to consider a balance bike as a way to encourage their balance and motor skills. You’ll be surprised at how quickly youngsters learn to balance and ride using these bikes.