It’s almost bike season and I can’t wait to pump up my bike tires and hit the road. Biking is an awesome family activity and one of the very few sports that doesn’t require a huge investment other than the bike and safety helmet. Young parents often ask me about the merits of the new pedal-less, balance bikes and my first response is always, “if only they existed when I was teaching my sons to ride a 2-wheeler”! The trick to learning to ride is gaining balance and, believe it or not, the worst ways to teach your kids to ride independently is to buy them a tricycle or training wheels. Why? Because tricycles and training wheels teach kids how NOT to balance. They become so dependent on these supports that they become terrified of riding free. For those of you who have never seen or heard of balance bikes, here’s a brief description:
- There are no pedals on these bikes.
- They are low to the ground so the child can place their feet firmly on the pavement.
- The child starts by pushing themselves along with their feet. Of course, the child learns that if they lift their feet, they will glide nicely along. Whenever they feel as if they are beginning to wobble, they simply plant their feet back down.
- Balance Bikes
- Strider Bikes
- An even cheaper option is to remove the pedals completely from a child’s bike until they’ve mastered balance. But please make sure the bikes are not too tall for your child or you’ll only frustrate them. Kids need to be able to put both feet completely on the ground in order to feel secure. You’ll undermine the learning experience if your child still feels wobbly because they can only touch the ground with their toes.
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