Thursday, April 17, 2014

Is Your Family Suffering From “Training Wheel Tears”?

It is that time of year again.  The weather is warming, flowers are blossoming, birds are chirping and children are eager to show their independence and shed their training wheels by graduating to a two-wheel bike.

Learning to ride a “big girl/big boy” bicycle can be difficult for the whole family.  It can be frustrating for the child learning how to maintain balance, and it can test a parent’s patience by reviewing instructions again and again to a child who is more interested in careening downhill than to listening to mom/dad.
Is there a cure for the “Training Wheel Tears”?

As a parent and the founder of a pediatric fitness facility, I can say that, although there is no magical cure for the bike riding blues, there are many tips and methods of instruction.

  1. Remember each child is unique.  Just because a child is five-years-old, it doesn’t mean that he is ready to learn to ride a two-wheel bike.  When your child is ready to learn, he will ask to be taught.
  2. The training bike should be at the right height for your child.  Make sure that your child can easily place her feet on the ground if she feels unstable.
  3. Many bike enthusiasts advocate taking the pedals off of the training bike and allowing the child to practice balancing first. They believe the child should be allowed to ride by pushing the bike along with his feet, so he can get a feel for balancing.
  4. Many children learn to ride by practicing on the grass.  Although it is more difficult to pedal on grass, the lawn provides cushioning when a fall occurs.
  5. If your child is older, allow her to practice in a location that is more private. This will decrease her anxiety and any teasing from neighborhood children.
  6. Teach your child to focus and be aware of his surroundings.  If you live on a street that has traffic, a car may not see your child practicing.  Teach your child that safety always comes first.
  7. Be patient.  Each child has different aptitudes.  Some children may learn in one hour while others may need more time and encouragement.
  8. Stay positive.  Encourage your child and congratulate her on her efforts.
  9. Consider hiring a professional.  Many cities offer fitness trainers who can help your child develop the skills necessary for bike riding.
  10. Use the latest technology.  There is a multitude of great children’s products that reinforce balance and steering while providing high stability at very low speed, making learning to ride a bike easier, quicker and more fun.

Don't expect the learning process to be crash-free.  It may take time for your child to become comfortable riding a bike.  So, be ready to comfort, coerce, cheerlead and bandage skinned knees.  And, you may need to wait for another sunny day to practice riding again if your child doesn’t feel self-confident yet.
Does your child need a little extra assistance learning to ride a bike?  Fitness for Health can help.  We offer “By Sickel” Bicycle Success which helps children build their self-confidence while improving their balance and coordination.  Call us at 301-231-7138 with questions about our bike riding program or visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn more about Fitness for Health.


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