Help your child learn to ride a bike

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Help your child learn to ride a bike

Riding a bicycle can be an important rite of passage for a child. Learning to ride a bike can be a scary and overwhelming adventure for both parents and children alike!

When thinking about helping your child to learn to ride a bike, consider what may make it difficult for your child: Does your child have difficulty with balance? Are they afraid they are going to fall? Does your child have the strength to push the pedals and/or to hold themselves upright?

One of the best things about learning to ride a bicycle is that your child may be very motivated and excited to do it, as he sees his friends or other children in the neighbourhood doing so already. Is your child ready to ride? Here are some tips from our Occupational Therapists to help you get started!

Top three tips to help your child learn to ride a bicycle

  • Remove the pedals. Take the pedals off and lower the seat so your child can rest their feet on the ground. This will help your child learn how to balance, one of the hardest parts of learning to ride. When you remove the pedals, be sure to keep track of which was on the left side and which was on the right.
  • Have your child practice walking and then, coasting on the bike.  Be sure your child’s feet are flat on the ground which will make it easy for them to push off and coast. Encourage your child to walk the bike forward while looking ahead and make the bike go as fast as they can. When the bike is going, have them lift their feet off the ground and roll. Practice on a slight slope to help your child coast along. Learning to confidently balance the bike is key!
  • Put the pedals back on. When your child is ready, put pedals back on and keep practicing balancing skills.

Regardless of how you teach this important child development skill, always remember bicycle safety.  As well, make sure to constantly praise your child during this challenging activity, even if it seems like the tiniest accomplishment (e.g. buckling bike helmet independently; putting kickstand down independently).

Keep in mind that every child learns new skills differently and at a different pace; new skills may take days, weeks and even months to learn. Keep practicing and always keep things fun! Feel free to talk with an occupational therapist or physical therapist if you need more individualized strategies or have other gross motor concerns for your child.

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