From our friends at OutdoorBabyNetwork:
It’s Bike Time for Families!
Here at OutdoorBabyNetwork.com we play, get outdoors, and go on many adventures as a family. It is always recess time in our minds. I guess we have to figure out how to squeeze in some work here and there. So when it comes to teaching kids how to bike we have a lot of experience. We are glad to share with you a few tips we extracted from different articles we published on how to introduce children to biking.
So grab your helmets, your big kid bike, put on some great multipurpose KEEN shoes, and head outside to play with your kids.
First, start with a Balance Bike:
A balance bike is a bike that has two wheels, no peddles and no brakes. Your child sits on the saddle while using their feet for locomotion and for breaking. There are many different models of balance bikes. Select one that fits your child and your budget. Make sure that your child is wearing shoes that you don’t mind getting wrecked. Since they use their feet to stop, the soles and toe tips get worn out fast (KEENs seem to hold up well). At first your child will straddle the bike and walk with it between their legs. They will be very slow, but after a while they will realize that they can sit on the seat while running with their legs, picking up momentum and then gliding with lifted feet. When they want to stop they will put their feet down. A good place for them to get the feeling of this gliding, balancing act is a grassy downhill slop.
Transition to a two wheeler:
Your child may not know how to start, so you need to get them going by supporting them under both armpits or on the small of their back. With practice they will get it and you won’t have to do this very often. Find a slight downhill for them so that peddling is effortless at first.
Also, your child will stop for the first while using their feet since they did that using the balance bike. Encourage practicing with pedal braking on a flat surface. After a while they will only use the pedals and you can have them wear normal shoes again.
Remember that you should keep an open mind. It is not about your child being the youngest, best or fastest bike rider, but about your child having fun outdoors with you. It is about your child’s goals and needs, and not about you. Your child has to be interested in learning and open to the experience. If your child becomes cranky, scared, or bored, forget it and try another time. Only go on bike rides or practice rides if your child agrees. Do not bribe your child.
Children love bells and whistles. Don’t use special beautification items as rewards. Research indicates that using rewards to motivate children compels them to accomplish things to create to please their parents rather than out of an intrinsic motivation that comes from within their own self. Children should be left to be who they want to be and to grow into their fullest potential without thinking that the only reason to do something is to be rewarded. Let your child set their own limits for their abilities and let them reach their own goals so they can be self-fulfilled rather than extrinsically motivated. Our daughter Coralie asked for a bell, a basket and some streamers when she was learning to ride her two wheeler. We purchased them for her once she had complete control of the bike. Adding anything to the bike before a young biker is ready for it can be a distraction and can be more hurtful when they fall.
Many miles later – some slow, some fast, OutdoorBabyNetwork has grown into a community of committed nature loving parents, who are dedicated to getting their kids out there. Heidi Ahrens is the network host and mom to two KEEN-wearing young girls.
Join us for recess at OutdoorBabyNetwork for families who enjoy the outdoors! Tell us about your favorite recess spot and who knows, you may end up finding a pair of KEEN shoes in your mailbox!