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We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s just like riding a bike.” It sounds easy. But do you remember learning how to ride your first bike?  Was it easy? Did you crash? Did you cry? Did you smile with glee? Swear that you would never ride one again? Ha!

Here are some tips that may make it easier for your kids to learn to ride a bike.

Teaching Toddlers
Children can learn how to ride a bike at any age, but the younger the better. Try to start them as soon as they can walk – the hardest thing is to teach a child how to balance on a bike.

Toddlers can usually learn how to balance on a Hotwalk, a bike with no pedals, designed specifically for toddlers by Specialized. (It costs about $130 and can be bought at local bicycle shops.) This is a great first bike because it teaches kids to balance with their feet on the ground rather than on pedals.

Good Ole’ Training Wheels
Going the traditional route? There are also millions of kids who have used training wheels (also called “stabilizers”) to learn how to ride a bike successfully. Start your child on a 12-inch wheel bike with training wheels, and then slowly wean your kid from the back wheels.  It helps when you gradually raise the training wheels as your child gains confidence. The wheels should barely be touching the ground before your remove them off all together.

When the Wheels Come Off
Once the wheels come off, choose a safe site for your child’s “first ride.”  My personal favorite, which tends to be liked by many parents, is a flat, wide-open pavement area like a vacant parking lot or a school.

Here’s how you do it… hold the seat of the bike and give your child a little push. Once you give your child a little push, pedaling is KEY. Cheer your child on to keep pedaling! This is the way to continue balance. Tip: Don’t let go without telling your child. If he falls at a time that he felt he would be safe, you lose his trust. Also, it’s not safe for him to keep looking back over his shoulder to check on you.

It is natural to expect your child to fall – it’s all part of the learning experience. Make sure your child wears a helmet at all times for suitable protection. Remember – repeat, repeat, repeat! It is the key to mastering the bicycle.

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