My beautifully talented friend, Christina Hodnet, dropped by last week to shoot my 4 yr old learning to ride her two-wheeler (sans training wheels). The music she chose was perfect and brought me to tears as it only further strengthens all that this video symbolizes – the all consuming support we give in motherhood (even when in the background) yet also letting go; all the while instilling confidence and empowerment. Every parent knows that feeling of immense love, pride and nerves combined – so overjoyed and encouraging yet wanting to protect their little ones from hurting themselves, being at their side if and when they need you.
learning to ride a bike I prefer to suggest rather than give people advice. But in this case, I’m going to tell you if you have a toddler you have to get them on a balance bike (or sometimes called ‘push bike’). The original wooden brand (and my favourite – for quality, style and comfort) from Germany is called LIKEaBIKE, but there are many decent knock-offs on the market. They are a sound investment that will last through many kids or to be saved for grandkids, if not left outside in the rain. There are also metal versions – Strider, is one popular brand (though it wasn’t as comfortable for my daughter as the LIKEaBIKE; we had to wrap bubble wrap around the seat), and LIKEaBIKE also has a model.
Get them started close to 2 yrs old. It teaches your child balance. You’ll be amazed how they fly around on these bikes. What this does is gets them onto a two-wheeler without needing rickety, noisy, slow-moving, hard to kick the habit, training wheels. My son was on a two-wheeler with no training wheels when he was three, exactly a year earlier then my daughter in the video below. You might be thinking, “What’s the rush?”. Other then it’s just fun, when you have older kids and want to get the family on bike rides together sooner than later, this is key. Also, the confidence and feeling of accomplishment this gives your child is reason alone. It’s never too young to teach empowerment. Who doesn’t want to see their child thrive?
It really only took her a week to get the hang of her two-wheeler before she was off on her own (I think this was her 3rd day riding bits on her own). Still wobbly, yes, but confident and brave (even though she can not brake yet!). She still loves to ride her LIKEaBIKE, and generally rides at about the same speed on both. Depending where you are, for instance, busy, city streets, the balance bikes are likely safer at this age for a lot of travel (hills too). I know it won’t take long before she’s riding her two-wheeler everywhere on her own. So I’ll continue to cherish these days of still standing (or running) at her side. And don’t forget to capture it on video (thank you, Christina!) because learning how to ride a two-wheeler is not the chore it was a generation ago. It will happen fast. And try to enjoy being in the background as you support your kids, it’s just as important as the times you are at their side.
some tips for transitioning them to a two-wheeler from the push bikes:
• have a two-wheeler kicking around your back yard and wait till they are ready and asking to try it
• use a road that has a slight downward incline
• teach them to turn the pedals till one pedal is at the top; this enables them to get the bike started on their own
• start off by holding one handle bar and the back of their seat
• once the basic balance is there, don’t hold on so much as hover your hands
• better balance? let go and hold the back of their shirt, or as I preferred, their hood (don’t strangle them!)
• tell them to always keep their eyes on the road, straight ahead; if they turn around to look behind them, usually their hands/handle bars follow
Have fun. Take deep breaths (parents) and watch them soar.