As Prince Louis shows off his balance bike in a new royal birthday photo, here are 10 tips for teaching your child how to ride their bike
Didn’t little Prince Louis look absolutely adorable on his balance bike in the photograph released by the royal family to celebrate his third birthday!
Like many children his age, Louis is learning to ride a bike – one of those rites of passage that’s lots of fun but not always quite as easy as it looks.
Here, former Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya exclusively shares his tips for teaching your child to ride their bike, in association with The Bike Club.
Radzi said: “I hope these tips help your child enjoy the benefits of riding a bike, not just for the fun it will bring now – but the freedom and independence that cycling can give for a lifetime.”
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Prince Louis on his balance bike
10 tips for teaching your child how to ride a bike
Radzi says: “Some children take to their bikes like ducks to water but others need time to develop their interest.
“Leave their bike out so it’s ready to be played with anytime. Always offer it as an option when you go to your local park or woods and when they are keen, provide plenty of encouragement but allow them to take it at their own pace.”
Start with a balance bike
“The age of stabilisers is over, learning with a balance bike has revolutionised the way generations of children learn to cycle.
“With a balance bike, a child builds confidence to lift their feet off the floor and glide. They also learn how to control their bike with slight body movement. When the time comes to add pedals it’s much easier as they have already learnt the fundamentals of balance and steering.”
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Children having fun with their bikes
Articulate why they want to cycle
“Child psychotherapist Dr Sharie Coombes suggests saying, ‘Why do you want to learn to ride your bike? What will be better? Who will be pleased for you? Who will be the first person you tell?’
“By getting them to articulate the benefits of riding a bike it tunes them into their own reasons wanting to learn to cycle and builds self-motivation.”
Help them cope with falling off
“Learning to ride a bike inevitably involves falling off at some point and the fear of falling off can become a barrier for some children.
“Dr Sharie Coombes suggests that you acknowledge that it is a physical and emotional challenge, but it’s one you think they can handle.
“Make failure a potential option but be positive and explain why you think they can manage it. Remind them of other activities they initially struggled with but have now mastered. A good example of this would be all the times they fell over when they were learning to walk.”
It’s a big moment for parents too
“It shouldn’t be forgotten that your child’s first bike ride is a moment of loosening of control for a parent too. It will be the first time that they can move away from you, quicker than you can run after them!”
Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya
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Put them in control
“Children need to be in control of their own bike. Teaching them how to use their brakes to stop safely and importantly when to stop, is the first step in both of you having the confidence to take them out on the road.
“Teach them how to use their brakes properly from the start. Brakes should be squeezed slowly not suddenly pulled on. Encourage your child to keep their fingers rested on the levers when holding the handlebar so they are ready to squeeze the brakes when needed.
Introduce road safety ideas early
“You can talk about road safety even before your child is cycling on the road. If you travel with them in the car or on your bike you can start them off with traffic awareness whilst they are still toddlers.
“Get them to spot the colours of traffic lights and talk them through what you are doing. Ask them to help look for cars at junctions so looking for traffic becomes ingrained.
“Before adding traffic to the mix make sure they are completely confident in their bike handling and that you are very aware of road traffic rules yourself so you are teaching them correctly.”
Perfect your road positioning
“When cycling with your children on the road, the best place for you to ride is slightly behind and to the right of them. This allows you to protect them from behind and clearly see what is going on in front of them so you can communicate instructions if need be.”
Make it fun
“Whatever age your child is now, if you want them to ride their bike more, it needs to be fun.
“What makes cycling fun very much depends on the child. Some kids love learning new skills on their bikes, going down ramps, popping wheelies and trying jumps as they grow stronger and more confident. For others, the fun can be in cycling with their friends or visiting the places that cycling can take them.
“For reluctant cyclists, the destination can be as important as the journey; a trip to the ice-cream van, a play in the park or visit to the beach can be just the ticket for getting everyone out and happily pedalling.”
Rent a bike
“The Bike Club is a kids bike subscription service. Starting from as little as £3.50 per month, members can choose from a wide range of high quality, lightweight bikes from brands including Frog, Forme and Squish. When your child grows out of it, you simply send the bike back and the next size up is then conveniently delivered to your door.”
These tips have been provided by former Blue Peter presenter, Podcaster and Author, Radzi Chinyanganya in his role working with the Bike Club – the UK’s first monthly kids bike subscription service.
For more information visit thebikeclub.co.uk