Like so many things children’s bicycles are also going through a stage of metamorphoses. A brand new bicycle model has appeared on the scene called balance. It has become a popular aid to teach children cycling in a simple manner. Balance bikes as the name suggests are bikes that have no pedals and no brakes. They are some what like scooters as they teach very young children two basic skills and these are balance and steering. Why complicate a child’s bicycle by adding brakes and pedals to them? Balance bikes have been designed scientifically keeping in mind young children’s ability to push off like in a scooter and balance and glide. This prepares them well for when they have to finally switch to pedal bikes.
Learning how to ride a bicycle is one of the earliest milestones in a child’s life, however, not all toddlers and very young children find cycling easy. Cycling is somewhat like swimming. Some kids take to it like fish in water others need to dip their feet in to test the waters before they feel it is safe for them to try out the whole water. Then too they might just wade in it before they decide to swim even if their mommy and poppy are there right with them. So take it easy and let the child learn at her own pace. Don’t push her into learning just because Molly down the lane is younger and she glides off like the wind.
Never forget that children learn in small doses. You begin with walking the balance bike around. Once in a while the child could sit on the saddle and just ride for a few feet. Sometimes they’ll just like to ring the bell. Let them do it, even if the noise gets on your nerves, as they are just getting a feel of it. As their confidence increases they will sit on it and begin to lift their feet off the ground instead of walking the balance bike. Before you know it they will be riding it without falling off!
Most mothers feel that a good age to try the balance bike is two years. However, this might not be the case with all children. What you need to do is let them get a feel of the bike just like you need to get the feel of a new car before you begin racing it. You can begin by going for walks and taking the bike along. The child will experiment, she might get on to the seat or she might just push the bike along. Before you get a balance bike perhaps you’d like to show your child a few videos of children riding so she subconsciously absorbs it in. Just play the video casually and you’ll be surprised when the child asks if she could have a bike just like the one in the video. Let the initiative come from the child. You suggesting it might seem like pushing her into doing something she is not yet confident about.
Some children are naturally slow learners so be patient if you have presented them with a balance bike but they seem to show no inclination to ride. Take the bike out on the lawn or for walks. Be prepared to carry the bike home from walks so buy a light one. From time to time show the child how it is easier for her to ride the bike than for mommy to carry it about. This is a ploy that works with a lot of children and when they do get on the bike encourage them. And when they get off don’t look displeased but pretend you haven’t even noticed that they are walking beside the bike. One mother decided to walk fast and when the child soon realised that if he wanted to keep up with mommy the easiest way to do it was to ride the bike. He never got off!
Children are very excited when they first get a balance bike and will try to get on the seat to ride immediately. However, the novelty will soon wear off and you will need to motivate the child after that. You can do this by riding out on your own bike and asking them to come along in theirs. You could also incorporate a daily balance bike ride into your routine. Go to the park or shopping or merely to a nearby playground or open field. Once the child begins to get used to the practice she might just hop on and ride away. Once they understand how it works then there is no stopping them. They love to show off their prowess to any one who is willing to watch!
It can be a bit frustrating when the child does not show the same enthusiasm you have for cycling. Remember children need their own pace as much as you do. So just keep the bike around as one of those things they play with. Ask them if they want to try bike balance, but don’t show impatience when they decline. Or let them watch other children having a fun time on their balance bikes even when they fall off. Soon they will want to try it too just to have fun falling off!
A balance bike is not made for speed so children are not going to just zoom off. However, make sure you are in a safe place when they begin riding as they could tumble off. If it’s a slope you want them to come down then make sure it is soft earth, grass covered and very gently inclined. Let the kid have all the fun, your fun can be the watching part!