Hunter, our technically-three-years-old-but-almost-four, can now ride
Here’s what we learned about teaching a 3 year old how to ride a bike:
- Get them started on a balance bike. Our balance bike of choice was the Y Velo. It’s designed for young kids and very easy for them to get the hang of. Hunter was using this at just over two years old (from memory) and whizzed around like crazy. It really helped him get the feel of what balancing is like.
- Then upgrade to a pedal bike. My parents bought Hunter a Trek bicycle. It was a bit too big/high for him at 16″, so he had a bit of trouble reaching the pedals at first. However, a few weeks later, we’d discovered he’d grown a bit taller and could juuuust use them!
- Training wheels are totally okay. There is a big backlash against training wheels at the moment, because they are said to prevent a child from learning how to ride a bike (as opposed to balance bikes, which are supposed to make them learn quicker). But, Hunter was simply too small for his big Trek bike, so we didn’t have much of a choice. On the downside, he was really anxious about having his training wheels off, because he grew dependent (mostly psychologically more than physically) on them. That said, if a child feels better/safer with training wheels, then so be it. Better they have training wheels and get on the bike, than not at all because of fear!
- Once comfortable, remove the training wheels completely. We didn’t faff around and raise the wheels bit by bit. Chris just whipped them off and they were never to be seen again.
- Encourage, encourage, encourage! This was my weakest point. I’m impatient, and kept catching myself snapping at Hunter and snarling “It’s so easy, stop being so afraid!”, etc. I know it’s a horrible thing to do, but I couldn’t help myself! I had to do a lot of mental bracing each time, and use really positive words and encourage him instead. It worked – a few days later he was so proud of himself (because of my encouragement) he ended up cycling by himself! Simply because his Mummy kept perkily insisting he could! Haha!
- Practice like CRAZY. Then practice some more. You’ll need to do this daily, to get them over the fear hump and become accustomed to the feeling. Hold onto them, or the bike, and just keep practicing until you’re completely sick of it, then practice some more.
- Eventually, they will say “LET GO!”. Which is exactly what Hunter did. He said “Stop holding onto me, Mummy, you’re slowing me down”. He said it with such great confidence that I just let go, and off he went.
Hunter was shining with pleasure with his little feat! It’s “just like swimming.. really really fast”, he declared.
We are so proud of you, darling! Most of all, we are so proud that you kept practicing and never gave up. Look where that’s gotten you now 🙂