How to encourage a child to start riding their balance bike
This is a question, I get asked a lot by customers when they purchase a balance bike and I have to admit it is a fair question. However, the answer is most of the time not what the parents expect. Very often, they think they need to help and hold the child to develop confidence and expertise. Let’s not forget though, that we are not talking about a child sitting on a pedal bike without training wheels. A balance bike is designed for children so their feet touch the ground. Because both feet are flat on the ground there is no need to hold them, the feet are doing the job. There is also no need to show them how to ride the bike, all they need to do is walk, a movement they are familiar with.
So what can parents do to get the ball rolling? The only thing that is required is to make the balance bike available as often as possible.
If you live in an apartment or a small house, the answer is to get outside regularly with the bike and let the child ride. Initially, it will be slow and sometimes they won’t want to ride, but if you are persistent, you will see results. Just ensure that the ride is correlated with fun and not a must. If they don’t want to ride at the moment when you go outside, it’s not a problem, just try again another time. Persistence will pay off, I am positive.
Another option is to team up with another family where children already ride. Children learn from children much faster than from adults. Second children have this advantage and learn far earlier and faster to ride a balance bike whether you chose the above or the next method of approach.
If you are lucky enough to live in a house with a lot of space or even better with a big garden, then you have the best conditions for a quick success. Ensure you leave the bike in a spot where your child can access it a hundred percent at their own discretion. This is the approach we did and it worked wonders. Initially, the bike was ignored. With time it became more interesting and it got pushed around in the house. Occasionally, it got turned around and the wheels were spinned. With time the courage and curiosity was big enough to hop on it and to slowly walk around with the bike. From this point the progress sped up rapidly. Within no time the motions became more comfortable and controlled, the arms were able to coordinate the steering and it started to look like riding a balance bike. As soon as riding was interesting and fun enough, we retired the pram and substituted the pram with the balance bike. We used it to go anywhere, like grocery shopping, walks, small rides, I went for a run and my boy was riding next to me, where possible we took it for bushwalks, there are no limits to your imagination. In short, the balance bike became part of our child’s life and made my personal life so much easier.
The second option is obviously the more effective option to get started, but as mentioned, many families live in smaller houses and have no garden, where it is harder to provide the bike a hundred percent of the time. However, having said that, it does not mean that the children won’t learn to ride their balance bike, it might just take longer. But if you don’t throw in the towel and encourage them to ride you will never regret it. Riding a bike from such a young age is nothing else but beneficial. It trains the children’s motor skills, their balance, their spatial awareness, it makes them aware of traffic rules from an early age and they move, which is an essential to a healthy and balanced life. In a future post I will go more into detail about the benefits of letting children ride a balance bike / bike from an early age.
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