The Ultimate Guide on How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
April 11, 2024
kids playing bike with green helmet

You’ve reached the ever so fun point in your child's life when it’s time to move them into the world of two-wheeled independence. Learning how to teach a kid to ride a bike is an exciting but challenging time in their life. You want to do everything you can to set them off on the right pedal. (without screaming or pulling your hair out in the process)

I’ve been there; I understand what you’re going through. And there are a few different things that you can do to help make the process of teaching them a bit smoother.

Tips and Tidbits

kids playing red bike with training wheels
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Once you’ve decided that your child is ready to move onto two wheels, it’s time to get creative. Learning how to teach a kid to ride a bike is difficult without a proven formula.

One of the most important things to remember is that every child learns differently. Some will pick up on it in 30 minutes while it might take other children an entire year to get it together. Set them up for success!

Start with training wheels (but do it this way)

We know you know to start teaching your child to ride their bike with training wheels. While removing the support right away and watching them fall a million times might be the method our parents used, there is a modified way to help them along.

Parenting experts call this the “glide method.” You want to take the training wheels off and lower the seat enough so they can plant both of their feet on the ground. Teach them to push off the ground and let the bike glide without pedaling.

Doing this will teach your child to glide and balance the bike without having to think about peddling or turning the wheels. Focus on one thing at a time, and your child will have the best success.

Once they’ve mastered gliding, you’ll want to put the training wheels back on and teach them to pedal while not relying on the supporting wheels.

Make sure the bike fits

boy playing green bike
Image Source: Pexels

While focusing on how to teach a kid to ride a bike, you might have looked at a variety of different style bikes. You want to make sure you get them the best bike for training.

Ensure that the bike is the proper height, and they have plenty of room to pedal without their knees hitting off the handlebars.

Remember that every kid is different, so just because a website or store says that the bike works well for a particular age group or height, the one you have might not be the best for your child.

The best kid's bikes will work perfectly for your son or daughter.

While thinking about the size of your bike, it’s also a good time to introduce your child to setting their kickstand or leaning the bike up against something when they get off.

No pressure

boy trying some bike tricks
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Much of learning how to teach a kid to ride a bike is mental. This factor applies to your child and you. They’ll never learn if you’re pushing them too hard. I know it’s easier said than done, and there are some times where you want to start yelling or saying things like, “Why can’t you learn this?”

By doing that, you’re hurting your child's confidence, and this will only make it more difficult to teach them. If they’re not picking up on it right away, don’t worry because they will.

It’s important to realize that children have short attention spans, so don’t expect to get them on the bike for four hours straight until they learn it, this strategy won’t work.

If you’re introducing your child to a 2-wheeled bike for the first time, expect to conduct 30 minute training sessions until they pick up on it.

Safety first

The last thing you need is an injury that discourages your child or makes them scared of riding the bike. I had this problem with my younger son. He was terrific at learning most things and picked up quickly, but he was slow to learn his bike without the training wheels.

He was too scared to take the stabilizers off because he saw how many times his older brother fell down and got hurt. It took some time, but having the right safety gear can also help.

Make sure you have the right size helmet that fits your child's head properly. It also doesn’t hurt to have knee and elbow pads to prevent scrapes, cuts, and bruises. Learning how to teach a kid to ride a bike is a lot about setting them up for success, so make sure you get them the right gear.

How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike: Today's the Day

Now you should have a basic understanding of how to teach a kid to ride a bike. At this point, let’s get into the finer details. You’ve got the gear, you’re head is in the right place, and your child is ready.

Now what?

It’s time to get them on that bike and start teaching!

Start with the mental stuff

kids wearing blue jacket
Image Source: Pixabay

I might sound like a broken record, but I'm a firm believer that learning a lot of things starts with your head. It’s more about your mind and composure than anything. If you’re getting frustrated or upset with your child, you should take a break and revisit the training later.

Make sure that you have enough time to devote to teaching them free from distractions. The biggest issue I had was wrangling my younger son while trying to teach my older one.

It was stressful at times, but do everything you can to devote your full attention to the child you’re teaching.

Balance is first

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Image Source: Pixabay

The first thing you should do when learning how to teach a kid to ride a bike is to focus on one thing at a time. They need to learn how to balance the bike before they can pedal and if you try to teach both at once, you’ll struggle.

Use the suggestion we discussed above to help teach your child to balance.

Do not run alongside or beside the bike while holding it and letting them balance. First, you’re creating distrust by promising not to let go, and you holding the bike causes it to wobble without teaching your child to balance on their own. This strategy is a recipe for failure.

Find the right location

You need to find an ideal location to teach your child to ride a bike without training wheels. Think back to when your parent or guardian taught you how to drive.

They didn’t take you to your local downtown, and they didn’t have you drive through the snow either, right?

When you’re training your new cyclist, you’ll want to keep them on a level and smooth street where there isn’t a lot of traffic or distractions. Better yet, if you can find a location with a slight decline, you’ll be even better off.

The slight decline will help teach them to balance without having to worry about pedaling to get momentum.

The hardest part when learning how to teach a kid to ride a bike is maintaining a smooth momentum. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to scream when my son would be riding perfectly and then let himself slow down until he fell off.

All in all, you need the right place to teach your child if you want things to run as smooth as possible.

Get Them Riding Solo

Now you have quite a few of the tools to succeed with teaching your child to ride their bike. Let’s review some of the most important points.

First, start with the mental game. Make sure you don’t get upset or frustrated with them. Also, don’t allow your personal agenda to get in the way. Don’t worry about what anyone else's kids are doing because everyone learns at a different pace, and the end result is always the same.

Second, have the right safety gear in place. Make sure they have the right size helmet with elbow and knee pads if you feel they’re necessary.

Third, find the right location that will set your child up for success. You want to start them on a level and hard surface with little distraction.

Don't Blink

Learning how to teach a kid to ride a bike is an exciting point for parents. You’re starting to teach your children to be independent and do things on their own.

What are your secrets to teaching your kid how to ride a bike? Share with us in the comments!

Featured Image Source: Pexels

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