How to Teach an Older Child to Ride a Bike?

How to teach an older child to ride a bike
How to teach an older child to ride a bike

Cycling is a sport all children should be allowed to enjoy no matter the age. Many children start cycling early in their life, starting from the age of 3-5 years.

But many kids do not get to learn cycling early out of sheer fear or due to other circumstances. But, there’s nothing you need to worry about here. 

There is no age barrier to learning to ride a bike. Even if your kid is older or you as an adult can learn cycling anytime you want.

All you got to do is practice with a lot of patience.

The five steps to take to teach an older child to ride a bike is:

  • Prepare them mentally
  • Prepare the bike to make it fit for beginners
  • Teach them how to balance
  • Teach them how to pedal and brake
  • Motivate them and patiently guide them through the journey.

In this article, I’ll discuss what exactly I mean by the above points and how you can teach your older child to ride a bike smoothly in no time at all.

1. Prepare the Child Mentally

You have to make sure your child is ready before they mount a bike. The rest of the learning process is almost similar for all children. The stark difference lies in the preparation.

Learning to ride is relatively easy for younger kids since they are at prime age. They love to experiment more and do not fear falling too much. But as they get older, the fear of falling grows.

Child Learning to Ride Bike
Child Learning to Ride Bike (Source:

With older kids, the psychological shadow remains for a long time. If they are too hasty in learning to ride, they might fall and get injured badly.

After that, the kid is most likely to never touch the bike out of sheer fear.

So, as parents, you have to counsel them and be there for them throughout the learning process.

Make sure to not over-sell the idea of riding being too easy. Also, you cannot make it seem extremely difficult to master. The best option is to explain it clearly enough to make the child look forward to it.

Two things you can do to help your kid build their confidence are-

  • If it is possible, take the kids first to watch other kids riding a bicycle. They can learn a lot just by observing the other kid’s movements. After all, visual stimulation is better than to learn than from words.
  • You have to choose a less crowded area to teach your kid to ride. There should not be too many people or traffic around that could get in the way and make them anxious. An empty parking lot is the best place to practice.

2. Prepare the Bike to make it Fit for Beginners.

The bicycle should be suitable for your child to get them comfortable before they learn to ride.
To make them suitable, you have to do the following things:

Check the Size of the Bike

Make sure that the bike is not too large or too heavy. The kids have to plant their feet on the ground for scooting, so the bicycle should be of appropriate size.

A heavy bike can cause a hindrance in learning to balance. So, check the wheel and frame size. And adjust the saddle to the height of your kid to make the bike suitable for them.

Remove Training Wheels

If you have not installed training wheels, then it is for the best. But if the bike has training wheels, you have to remove them. Training wheels help in learning to ride without a lot of supervision.

But, they also make it hard for the kids to learn to balance. 
Older kids don’t need training wheels as long as they can plant their feet on the ground firmly while on a bike. So, not having training wheels accelerate the learning process.

Remove the Pedals and Lower the Seat

Removing the pedals makes your regular bike akin to the balance bike. Balance bikes have proven themselves essential for younger kids to learn to ride. It is the same for older kids too.

Remove the pedals and lower the seat of your kid’s bicycle. Get them to scoot while their feet on the ground. They will learn to cycle in no time at all.

Inflate the Tires Properly

The bicycle tires should be inflated fully with the correct amount of pressure. The child will be able to maneuver the bike smoothly. Make sure to check for the correct inflation pressure on the sidewalls of the tire.

3. Teach them How to Balance.

The first step in learning how to balance is learning how to scoot.

For scooting, instruct your kid to apply force on the ground in the backward direction so that the bike moves in the forward direction. The child needs to keep their hands steady and look forwards instead of the ground. 

After the kid is comfortable with scooting, then comes coasting.

For coasting, have the kid take a few steps to get moving. Then, get them to lift their feet off the ground at the exact point to coast.

They will have to extend their legs out straight to the sides to maintain balance.

Adults Learning Bicycle
Adults Learning Bicycle (Source:

After the kid learns to balance with their feet off the ground, it’s time to teach them to turn. 

For turning, encourage your kid to take wide turns around large objects. The kid can practice turning around while coasting around pillars if you are practicing in the parking lot.

Or, you can place cones around twenty feet apart from each other and then reduce the distance later on.

It is better to learn turning during the coasting period so that your kid can be confident in turning corners on the streets early.

4. Teach them How to Pedal and How to Brake.

How to Pedal

Now that your child has mastered balancing while coasting, it is time to reinstall the pedals on the bike. But, keep in mind to keep the seat lower until they learn to balance while pedaling.

It will not be hard to keep the balance while pedaling. Your child will only need to focus and practice for a maximum of few days.

You can hold your child under the armpits or secure the back of their bike seat to help them keep the balance a few times.

 You have to instruct your kid to place one of his/her feet on the pedal while the other remains on the ground to steady themselves before pedaling.

For pedaling, have them push the pedal towards the ground and put their feet on the other pedal when the bike starts moving forward.

You will still have to hold the back of the kid’s bike seat securely until they can balance and pedal together. When your kid can proficiently pedal and balance while keeping his/her attention forwards, he/she is good to go.

How to Brake

Teach your kid to slow down the speed of the bicycle gradually before braking. Abruptly applying the brakes may result in an accident in the early learning stages.

Also, have the kid coast for a short distance before applying the brakes. This method helps them to stop without losing control of the bike.

5. Motivate them and Patiently Guide them through the Journey.

If your child is older and has been putting off riding a bike until now, it means they are dealing with anxiety and fear. You ought to have the utmost patience with them.

There are various ways to encourage the kids to learn to ride. You can give them incentives. Treat them and praise them for trying.

You, as a teacher, have to be the calmest person of the two. You cannot let your fear or frustration show on your face. It will only make your child more anxious and even more reluctant to learn.

Give the kids practical goals to reach. Allow them to take as much time as they want. If they feel the pressure to learn as soon as possible, it will only increase their level of anxiety.

Make sure to gauge the kid’s emotions and willingness to learn. Make little games out of pedaling and steering to keep the riding fun. 

Get on your bike and ride along with your child to keep them company and lift their confidence. 

You will have to motivate the kids, especially when they fall off the bike. While learning to ride, the kids will fall nine out of ten times.

 But out of anxiety, many kids choose to give up when they fall once. They might fear touching the bike again. You will have to talk them out of it.

You will have to teach them that failing is a part of learning. For older kids, falling from the bike will leave a psychological shadow that they might never come out of without proper supervision.

My Opinion

Your kid may struggle a lot in the beginning, but he/she will get the hang of it in no time. They will be very proud of their achievement once they master riding a bike.

You will have to be their source of strength while guiding them smoothly through the journey.

Organizations like Bicycle Riding School teach your older kids to ride bicycles even in teenage or adultary.

Moreover, you might be interested in the following articles:

Keep calm and show your kids how fun riding is!

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