Hey there REI Community!
One of the most rewarding moments (of many!) of being a parent is when your kiddo first learns to ride a bike. The look on their face when they realize they have left their training wheels behind and are powering themselves on their bike is truly special. The journey to that moment, however, can be challenging and a struggle from time to time. There are a lot of good resources out there, like this Expert Advice article: How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bike, to help guide you along the process. We’d love to tap into the collective knowledge and wisdom of the REI community and hear about how you taught your kiddo to ride a bike. We're hoping you will share your experiences and what motivational tools you used to help get excited about riding. What advice, tips, and suggestions do you have for a someone preparing to teach their kiddo how to ride?
As a long time coach of sports, I recommend:
Reinforce, notice and bring to awareness the moment the skill is performed correctly. Spend little time bringing to awareness mistakes, unless directly asked, and only then if the message is crafted and able to be received in the best light. Spend most of your practice time focused on your successes even though your time is littered with failure.
Remember what you did right. The sense of approval allows that neural pathway to strengthen and grow. The more attention you put on mistakes, the more time the mind can grow the incorrect neural pathway.
This neuro athletic is advice for all level athletes, and perhaps for relationships as well.
What I have seen work pretty well is similar to what some people have already written. Having a balance bike on a rocking platform (strider makes one) before the kids are able to potentially "ride" their balance bike is a huge help. Kids use it as a rocking horse and get used to being on it and pumped as they get older and can take their familiar bike off the stand and start ripping around.
Next I would say transitioning to a bike with pedals can happen for some kids pretty quickly but it is really important to make sure that the bike isn't too big and they feel comfortable striding/gliding on it first. You can take the pedals off right away or start with a larger strider brand bike without pedals.
I see a lot of parents want to get too big a bike so they can save some money and the kids can grow into it. This seems like a pretty big mistake to me. These bikes aren't that expensive and you might have friends and family that have outgrown theirs or check out some yard sales. When trying to help someone learn, it is really important to have functional gear that fits. If you wouldn't do it to yourself, don't do it to your kids.
As a former child cyclist, parents please, if you release your child at the top of a hill on a bicycle make sure there is not a fence at the bottom. If there is a fence at the bottom of the hill, kindly instruct your child on the use of brakes. This will save on fence repairs, although it may deny your child a good story.