The invention of balance bikes has brought relief for many parents who want their children to learn about cycling.
Learning on a pedal bike with training wheels can be less productive and tougher than a balance bike.
Balance bikes are great tools that are particularly designed to help a kid develop a sense of balance.
The learning experience begins with sliding when kids walk with the bike, but later on, after enough practice, they can glide, keeping their feet off the ground, which makes them ready for the upcoming pedal bike.
Learning a bike is great fun and highly valued form of exercise and activity for the kids. Moreover, balance bikes are great for starters, but it is not easy for every child.
Generally, children over 18 months to 7 years olds are suited for balance bikes. It is just a common age range, and it varies with children. So don’t be surprised if your kid is not getting on the idea of biking exactly within the 18 months.
Even with the kids ready to ride, some may quickly get on the hang of a balance bike, while some may be reluctant to ride the bike.
And many factors might have played a hand in the detachment of the kid from cycling, such as crashes, fears of the kid, lack of support, undesirable bike styles, etc.
Such situations put up parents in a dilemma, whether to continue supporting or letting the child off the bike for some time.
Although, as a parent, you should always motivate the child to continue rather than discouraging them.
How easily the child may move away from cycling can also be influenced to sway back.
So we have researched and noted down some effective tactics to persuade kids to use balance bikes.
Early Introduction to Balance Bikes
Pedal bikes can be tough, but balance bikes are great initiatives for riding. As the kid is past 18 months, parents can prepare the kids for riding.
It is great if the kid knows how the ride will be before actually stepping out to do it in real life. Kids may have confusion and fears, which hold them back.
For this, the parents can sit down with their kids and watch videos of kids riding on balance bikes. The videos will portray practicality along with the fun side, driving the kid further towards riding.
The demonstrations done by other kids can help the kid understand the steps to undertake and mimic.
Once the kid begins their training, then emphasize consistency. Let the kid ride for about 10-15 minutes regularly at the early phase of training.
You can then slowly increase the riding time by 5-10 minutes, depending on the growth and enthusiasm of the kid. Patience is the key here. Please don’t force the kid to ride until they get frustrated.
Another important thing to note is to teach the kid from basics to advance gradually. Firstly, let the kid walk-on with the bike and finally move on to taking feet off for gliding at a small pace.
Glorify their Achievements and Show Support
Children are fond of admiration, especially when it comes from their role models, parents. It is also true for adults to some extent.
When they succeed in gliding the bike for the first time, congratulating a kid can arouse a sense of achievement. Capturing the kid’s actions in videos and showing them later is surely a great idea to celebrate their milestones.
When the kids feel like they are achieving something, it will motivate them to do it more. And in no time, the kid will get hooked to the riding.
More practice leads to honing their biking skills, mostly balance and control, in balance bikes.
It does not imply that a kid who is slowly adapting to the bike should be tagged as a failure or a slow learner.
Seeing other fellow kids catch up relatively faster can deviate them from biking permanently. Thus, such kids need more cheering up.
So make sure to be present at times when your kid is trying on new techniques. And do not forget to appreciate their devotion and trial efforts.
Peer Pressure and Family Influence
Children love imitating their elders and friends. It helps if the kid is blessed with an elder sibling who is already an intermediate rider. Seeing others riding around induces the interest in the kid significantly.
The kid from a riding family (avid rider parents) surely is inclined towards the bike. Undoubtedly, such kids will be more serious about bikes than other kids belonging to a non-biking family.
In this regard, parents can carry the child in trailers or mounted seat racks before they get their own bike. Therefore, parents are responsible for maintaining a cycling environment in the home for all children.
For a kid, it is more exciting to ride with other kids of the same age. Let the kiddo ride around the neighborhood with them. You may be surprised to see the little biker crew doing tricks after some time.
Even you can ride your bike beside your toddler or revolve around the kid to entertain and teach them at the same time. Showing some magical moves can make the child curious, keeping them on the bike for a long time.
Right Bike with Accessories
Getting the right size bike for your kid is crucial to the riding experience. Getting the first bike for your toddler with a minimum seat height greater than their inseam length is unsuitable.
Your little one will not be able to touch the ground with their feet while being seated. Riding on such a bike can be tough and probably unsafe. The kid will think twice about getting on the bike the next morning.
Likewise, the kid is likely to crash a few times here and there. A kid without a helmet can get serious injuries. The memories of such incidents can implant fear in the little one towards the bike.
Hence, it is essential to have your kid wear a helmet at all times. For advanced safety, offer them elbow and knee guards. A balance bike with brakes can entice the kids more.
Some kids prefer specific styles and colors showcased in the videos and the internet. Toys like bells on handlebars, a beautiful basket in front to keep the kid’s stuff, and bike gloves gladden the kid.
Getting the bike of the kid’s choice will surely have the kid on board with ease.
Read more about Bike Accessories for kids.
Make it Indoor or Adventurous!
Cycling is an entertaining pursuit for the kids. However, the ride can be monotonous as time passes. So introducing some changes in the environment can break the boredom of regular rides.
Especially for toddlers below 2-3 years, parents can place the bike inside the home in the playroom or the kid’s room just in one corner.
The kids will pass by the bike more often and be more comfortable giving it a try without anyone looking at them constantly, free of any pressure. It will take more time but developing skills on their own can go a long way in biking.
In another scenario, kids also love exploring places and adventure. Biking on a grassy field, dirty tracks, or riding parks is a great breakout from the regular driveway ride.
You can even go for small hills which have inclinations just enough for a kid to cycle on. The slope provides momentum allowing acceleration of the bike without any aid from the kid rider.
The sole task of your little one will be to balance the bike down the road with their feet off the ground.
Please don’t risk it on a toddler but on kids who have mastered the balance bikes on normal roads. If the kid stops and lands correctly, it is about time to get the kid a pedal bike.
If there are no nearby hills, then you can opt to build an inclined ramp of appropriate height as per your kid. Then you can have him come down the ramp.
For extra safety, use mud around the ramp and the landing place to reduce the impact. You can build the ramp on your own once you have all the equipment.
Balance bikes are great to make your kids interested in cycling from an early age.
You can inspire your kid to the fullest and offer him all the time and place for training. Still, the kid may hesitate to get on their balance bike.
Observe the kid and find out the troubling part. Let the kid have enough time to get acquainted with the bike mechanisms and always stay by the kid’s side for the depiction of support.
If you are interested in buying a balance bike for your kid, I have a few articles on which I have reviewed various balance bikes.