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How to teach a child to ride a bike

Learning to ride a bike is important for child development. Follow our tips & safety advice to teach your child to ride a bike and promote cycling for kids.

Teaching your child to ride a bike is one of the most memorable parts of parenthood. There’s such a sense of pride (and just a little bit of fear) as you watch those little legs going round and round, and it’s a great opportunity for your family to spend some quality time together while outside.

Learning to ride a bike should be safe, fun, and successful, but remember that mistakes can happen – and they do happen. There’s likely to be a few tears, a few tantrums, and more than a few grass stains along the way but luckily, it’s nothing a reassuring hug and some handy stain removal advice from Persil can’t fix. Plus, getting dirty in the great outdoors is all part of the learning experience for kids.  

Teaching a child to ride a bike without stabilisers

Cycling is a skill we’re proud to pass along to our kids, but what’s the best way for us to teach them this important lesson? Although the action of cycling is something that’s simple to do, explaining the process isn’t that easy – especially when your subjects are children!

Cycling is one of those things that kids need to learn through hands-on experience. You can’t teach your child to ride a bike through a lecture at the dinner table (though wouldn’t it be great if you could?). It’s always a good idea to keep a small first aid kit nearby in case of any grazed knees, but don’t worry if they do fall, a little bit of dirt is good for children.

Giving kids the freedom to play, learn, and get dirty outside helps them develop essential skills, like resilience and independence. Accidents are bound to happen in the early stages, but these safety tips can help limit the potential damage:

  • Supervise your child at all times as they learn to ride
  • Look for a quiet spot, away from any roads – your garden or a local park is ideal
  • Make sure your child wears a helmet
  • You may also want to get your child some elbow and knee pads, these will be especially handy for those first rocky rides without stabilisers

The good news is that teaching a child to ride a bike without stabilisers isn’t as difficult as it may seem. In fact, the learning process can be broken down into two distinct areas to focus on: bike balance, and bike control.  


How to teach your child to ride a bike

  • Step 1: Confidence

Before beginning to teach your kids how to ride, remember that they’re probably a little nervous. Remind them that it’s completely natural to feel a bit anxious and help build their confidence by giving them more control. Start by teaching them about the brakes and get them to practice walking alongside the bike and squeezing the brakes to stop.  

  • Step 2: Balance

It may seem strange, but pop the pedals off your child’s bike and encourage them to push off and lift their feet up in the air. This is a great way to get your child familiar with balancing their body and their bike without having to worry about pedalling. Stay close to your child as they practice, a steadying hand will be needed for any wobbles. You can move on to small hills as their confidence starts to grow.  

  • Step 3: Control

Fix the pedals back onto the bike, and encourage your child to perform the cycling motion with their legs, and steer the bike to stay on track. Stand behind your child and hold onto their shoulders as they do this, so that they can focus on control of the bike without having to worry about their balance.  

  • Step 4: Ride!

Once your child is confident balancing and controlling their bike separately, it’s time for them to combine their skills and ride on their own. Falls may happen, but don’t worry if your child ends up covered in mud and grass stains – there are a number of quick and easy ways to remove grass stains from clothes.  

With ‘Walk to School’ week coming up (16 - 20 May 2016), there’s never been a better time to teach your children about the benefits of walking, cycling, and staying healthy and active. There are many benefits of cycling for kids, and you may notice your little ones becoming more independent and confident in their abilities. How will you celebrate Walk to School week this year, and teach your kids about the benefits of exercising and getting out and about in the fresh air?

As well as cycling for kids, you could also enjoy some family walks in the park, or set up a small obstacle course in your garden – click here for more outdoor activity ideas for kids. Let us know how you’re planning to mark this important calendar event, and share your ideas on Twitter using the hashtag #walktoschool.