Most parents would be proud to have their kids doing well in sports. As for me, I would be satisfied if my kids are able to swim and ride a bike. These have been my very least targets, apart from their spiritual, psychological and academic goals.
As a father who works from home, I am thankful that I have more time to spend with my family. It is fun to talk to my kids like explaining simple life philosophies while juggling with my daily responsibilities (such as freelance coder, side businesses e.g. selling ‘takoyaki’, teaching and consulting).
Now, as a father who works from home, I have a luxury of time to spend with my family as compared to previously.
As a result, I have boosted the confidence in my 4-years-old youngest son, Abdulla especially in some physical activities like gymnastics and cycling. Talking and spending more time with your children especially the younger ones can improve their confidence level. A wise man once told me that, “sons need a father figure to gain greater confidence”.
About two years ago, my wife and I bought Abdulla (who was just about 2.5 years of age at that time) a “strider-bike” (or some call it “balance-bike” or “learning-bike”) as a gift, so that he could learn how to balance. It was hard at the beginning (considering his tender age), but he did very well at trying. Then a year ago, we bought him his first bike with the “training wheels” at the rear. It was fun seeing him riding the bike with his older brother and sister everytime we visit the gardens nearby.
Abdulla likes to switch between the “training-bike” and “strider-bike” depending on his mood and preference on the day we go out to the park.
Then about a few weeks ago, I saw him riding his “strider-bike” moving downhill, and at that moment I realized that he has gained the “balancing skill” subconsciously or without him realizing. I immediately took off the “training wheels” from his 14-inch bike and asked him to start pedaling without the training wheels. As I have thought, he refused because he was afraid (of falling).
It was hard at the beginning (to persuade him to try). He kept asking me to put back the “training wheels” and we all know how hard to deal with a very “fussy little man” like him. But, thank goodness – he finally accepted my suggestion to try just one time, with a promise of buying him some candies. Not a good way to motivate your child! By the way, this candy offering is obviously not a “dedak” okay!
So, when he was on his bike, I asked him to check whether his feet was on the ground. He said yes, but complained that his bike was taller now, making it hard for him to stand (giving excuses is his favorite tactic to avoid trying). Then, I asked again whether he’d fall just because of that problem. He said, no! Obviously not because he was still standing with his feet on the ground, thinking about escaping the riding exercise.
Yes! That is a very important question to ask. It is important because he needs to know that he can use his own feet to support his body from falling in case if the bike stops (or slows down).
Once he has gained the confidence, it would be easier to get him pedaling. But, he would not do it if he does not have the confidence.
Remember to put a safety helmet on your children’s head before riding a bike. Unless if the riding zone is completely safe for them.
Here is the most important part. You have to find a track with slight downhill so that he can pedal forward gently and slowly. Do not find a steep downhill track because high speed pedaling could turn off his or her growing confidence. Try holding his body instead as this will show him that it is his body that does the balancing (not the bike).
Another tip is to ask him to use his two legs or feet every now and then so that he knows how to support himself when the bicycle started to slow down.
The final part is to run together with him slowly while holding (or pushing) his body from behind. Once you know that he has got the balancing skill, you can let him ride on his own while following closely from behind. When he has got it, show him by running forward in front of him but still stay as close as possible.
So, the steps are as simple as follows:
- Teach your baby child as young as 2 years old how to balance using “balance-bike” or “strider-bike”. Let them get used to balancing, wheeling and gripping the handle on their own. This can be done even inside of your own house (in case if you have a wide common area inside your house).
- Buy a 14-inch bike with “training wheels” at the rear, to let them have the confidence in pedaling techniques and controlling the speed. Take them to the park or gardens and guide them how to control speed, brake, turning and pedaling.
- Once they have found the balancing technique especially when going the downhill using the “strider-bike”, immediately teach them how to ride the two-wheeled 14-inch bike but taking off the “training wheels” from the rear part of the bike. Teach them how to ride by using these simple steps:
- Check their confidence level by asking whether they can stand using their own feet before riding the bike.
- Push gently forward by holding their body from behind.
- Follow from behind and keep supporting with words of encouragement.
- Do the above steps repetitively until they have gained the confidence.
- Let go the support by following closely from behind, and once they have successfully riding on their own, show them by running to the front. Tell them that they have done it, and immediately stop them from continuing and congratulate them or praise them for the success!
- Finally, ask them whether they want to continue. If yes, proceed. If not, continue the same exercise on the next day or after a few hours of an idle time.
There you go, the simple steps to achieve your fatherhood goals in seeing your kids riding bikes as young as below 4 years old. Believe it or not, kids can achieve this with the right guidances and support.
All the best!