We all remember that scary, yet exhilarating moment when our loved one took his/her hands off the seat of our bike and said, “remember to break!” Brett McKay and Kate McKay, authors of THE ART OF MANLINESS, share how to get your little one on two wheels.
It’s a rite of passage every child must go through—learning how to ride a bike. While the path to bike riding mastery is often strewn with scraped elbows and bruised knees, it’s a skill they’ll never forget. As their dad, you have the honor of guiding your child through one of suburbia’s most important coming-of-age rituals. Here’s how you can quickly get your child up, riding and experiencing the most exhilarating sense of freedom a six-year-old can enjoy: pedaling away from their parents.
Start ’em young with a tricycle. Get your kid a tricycle when he’s just a few years old. The tricycle will teach him two important biking skills: steering and pedaling. What’s great about tricycles is that they can be used inside, so your kid can practice his skills on the safety of your hardwood floors (provided Mom approves).
Graduate to training wheels. Once your child has the steering and pedaling thing down, it’s time to upgrade to a bike with training wheels. Training wheels enable her to learn two additional biking skills: balance and braking. Find a bike that’s appropriate for her height and attach the training wheels. The key to effectively using training wheels is to gradually adjust their height. When first starting out, angle the wheels so that they are in constant contact with the ground. This provides maximum stability for your fledging biker. Then, as she gets more comfortable on the bike, increasingly angle the wheels off the ground. This allows the bike to tilt to the side and helps your child learn how to balance.
Time to go solo. Once you think your kid has his balance and braking skills down, it’s time to take off the training wheels and let him go solo. This can be a big step, so be empathetic but firm. Find a flat surface with plenty of room for riding. An empty parking lot is good place. Make sure your child is wearing a helmet. You want to protect that soft noggin of his. Get him on the bike and hold the back of the bike seat. Tell him to start pedaling. Run alongside while holding the back of the seat. Offer some encouraging words and tell him to keep looking forward. When you feel like he has his balance, let go of the bike’s seat. To avoid a possible freak-out and an ensuing spill, don’t tell him you’re letting go.
Before you try to master this rite of passage with your little one, know how to praise kids most effectively.