My daughter Aliza rode her bike for the first time yesterday without her stabilisers, she was so happy and proud of herself. I was equally proud of her as was my husband, to see her beaming with confidence bought us so much happiness.
I think riding a bike is such an amazing skill and milestone for children to have, not only is it great exercise for them but also lots of fun too. To be pedalling at speed on your bike with the wind blowing in your face and the trees whizzing past, I believe always exudes a feeling of liberation or empowerment. Cycling is seen as a universal skill for life, along with swimming being another.
Cycling is 90% balance and 10% pedalling, so once the child has understood how to balance on the bike the rest will happen naturally. Pedalling is to propel them forward and to keep the momentum going, but the only actual thing a child needs to learn is balance.
Aliza has had a bike since she was 3 and then when she was 5 we bought her a bigger bike (again with stabilisers), she became very reliant on them and that was how she would cycle until now. It’s only in the summer holidays that I realised that maybe we should remove them so she can move on to the next stage. She’s 6, but children as little as 3-4 can ride a bike without the stabilisers, I guess it’s a case of practice and giving the child the chance the try, which we had not done. So we removed the stabilisers, but since our garden isn’t big enough we made a few trips to the park for her to practice. It’s only in the past 2-3 weeks that we made sure we would go every weekend for her to practice. Alhamdulliah it all worked out!
I know the old way of helping to children to cycle is to bend down, hold the back of the bike for the child and also run with them. I feel this is more difficult because not only will this give the child a feeling of dependency on you but you will also get a really bad back. The easier way I found in our experience was to remove the pedals and the stabilisers, bring the seat low so the child’s feet are touching the ground, let them scoot themselves ahead with both feet. So the child will constantly be pushing themselves and balancing for a few seconds while moving ahead.
We found a really cool slightly hilly area in our park and this helped so much, I showed Aliza how to hold her feet up and just roll down the hill, this helped her gain her confidence and her balance. Not only was it helpful, but it was so much fun, the speed, the wind blowing, the excitement… Took me back to my childhood days. I really need to get myself a bike too.
Anyway, this balance method works so much easier for the child and the parent, the parent lets the child work it out themselves…. Trust me they do. Children thrive with their parents encouraging words alone, standing back and shouting encouraging words works wonders. It tells them you believe in them and that you know they can do it. The child will then tap in to their instinctive ability and amaze you with how well they pick it up. I think as parents we just need to give our child the right environment [for us it was taking her to the park] to facilitate their innate skills, it’s for us to bring the best out of them in anything in life.
As with everything in life, nothing comes easy. Your child will fall, have grazes, scrapes and little cries. They are stronger than you think, so don’t let that deter you. Keep strong they can do it, but only with you behind them. Get them up, brush them off and tell them to try again. Dont overdo though, short bursts of learning work best. In the end the happiness on their face, achievement and success they feel will make it all worth it, I always tell Aliza that ‘nothing in life comes easy, you have to work for it’ I hope this becomes implanted in her mind for her future life and she goes on to achieve many bigger and better things in life.
Every small achievement our children make are a success and very slowly this grows their confidence and them as a person. Cycling is a life long skill, it’s fun, enjoyable and good for your health too. Yes the weather is getting colder, but riding on the bike in the park never goes out of season.
I hope you found that useful my beautiful sisters.