How to Get Your Kids Interested in Cycling
One of the most important things you can give your little ones is a love of exercising. This good habit will provide for them throughout their whole life. You and your partner are the heroes in your kids’ eyes and everything you do they also want to do. So you’re an example for them.
I am so grateful I can do my favourite sport, triathlon, for a living. My two-year-old daughter Ruby can see me training everyday. When I go for a bike ride, she knows it is fun and she wants to ride too. My husband Brad and I also make sure she gets the chance to really go and enjoy the sport. Not too much, just so that she is happy.
Photo courtesy Langhammer Photography @langhammer.photography
Developing a Love of Riding
We got over-excited and got Ruby a Liv Pre balance bike already for her first birthday. It may have been too early, but she loved it even though she couldn’t ride it yet. She was proud to have a bike like mum and daddy and learned all about the spinning wheels, bars, and saddle.
Ruby’s first introduction to bike riding was when we bought a baby bike seat; I think this was an important step. While Brad or I were running, the other would ride along on the bike with Ruby sitting on the back. Being able to spend the time on the bike with us, she learned how much fun you can have on the bike and developed a love for riding at a young age.
A couple of important notes for riding with a child in a bike seat:
- Don’t go too far at the beginning when they are little. The bike seat is so comfy and the light bouncing movements will make them fall asleep easily. If they fall asleep, it’s tricky to hold their head while riding back home. You can try to buy a bike seat that reclines, but I would rather have them not sleeping.
- Make sure they are strong enough to sit and hold their head up.
- Use a bike helmet that fits your child.
Teaching How to Ride a Balance Bike
The best way to start teaching your child to ride is by balancing on the bike. The first step is to have them stand and walk with the bike between their legs. Then, have them sit and slowly push off the ground using their feet. Finally, they will realise when their legs can’t keep up with the speed of the bike they can just lift their feet and go.
We are on the final step with Ruby now. The most helpful thing for us was to have her ride with a friend who is a few months older to show her how fast he can go and how he lifted his feet. Ruby automatically copied it and she had lots of fun.
Here are a few tips for teaching your child how to ride on a balance bike:
- Make sure your child fits on the balance bike before attempting to ride it. With the seat lowered, the child should be able to stand over the saddle with his/her feet on the ground comfortably. As they begin to sit on the saddle, you can raise the seat height slightly.
- Kids should always wear a helmet. The best way to teach them is to wear one yourself!
- Constant feedback from us adults is very helpful. Although it may come naturally, your child will react positively to your encouragement. I think it makes us parents extremely proud of the little stepping stones of any learning progress.
- Be patient. Some kids will learn faster than others. Comparing your child to others could make them lose confidence.
- Be careful not to make your child ride for too long. Even 30 minutes is more than enough to start with. Remember, we want them to have fun and we want them to ask us the next day: “Please, Bibi bike…?” (Ruby calls herself Bibi)
- Help your child get excited about improving on the bike. Ruby has realised the difference between our and her bike and is asking where her pedals are. We have explained to her that once she learns how to ride well on her Liv Pre balance bike, she will get a bike with pedals. She also knows that once she can ride faster, she can ride her bike while I do my run training.
- Take advantage of your child learning from other kids, if possible. My husband Brad is from a big family (his parents already have 10 grandkids). All the cousins are between six months - six years old. We all meet up at least three times per year and I think that when the kids are all together, they learn the most skills. The younger ones learn from the older kids, who are proud to show them how to do things properly.