father teaches son to ride the bicycle

How to teach a scared child to ride a bike

By Randall Johnson

Learning how to ride a bike is almost like a rite of passage for children. While kids may be thrilled about the idea of learning how to ride (until they scrape their knee for the first time), parents are more concerned about safety. 

However, some children are terrified of their first bicycle. They might not feel like they’re good at riding if they can’t get it right the first time, be afraid of injuries, or have a fear of doing something for the first time on their own. Facing this fear is a crucial skill for the rest of their lives. So, here’s how to teach a scared child to ride a bike. 

Stay Positive

Positive reinforcement is proven to be more effective than its negative counterpart. While you aren’t planning on punishing your child while they learn to ride, parents tend to forget how the phrases they use can have an enormous impact on their children. 

Yelling at your child to look up or saying that this isn’t hard, even if you’re doing so for their benefit, can discourage them from wanting to continue their learning experience. Stick with positive affirmations like “you’ve got this” and “great job” to make them less afraid of failure. 

Meet Their Other Needs

A tired and hungry child can quickly turn into a nightmare in any scenario. Pair that with being afraid to ride a bike, and you’re setting the entire scenario up for failure. Make sure they and you are well-rested and fed before you begin any training session. 

At the same time, you want their physical needs met in relation to the bike. Training wheels are an excellent start, but don’t forget seat height. Your child’s feet should be firmly planted on the ground when sitting on the seat. Start from the lowest setting and work your way up until you find the right height. 

It’s also vital that you keep the drama to a minimum. That means not panicking if your child does have a fall, keeping a cool head, and leaving any of your drama at the door before heading outside. That last one can be difficult for single parents, especially when one spouse makes it difficult for the other to see their child. Try to just enjoy this moment with your kid and speak with a child custody mediation lawyer later.  

Safety First

Before starting any training session, make sure you cover your bases when it comes to safety. That includes a helmet and pads, but it also means choosing a safe location for the session. Pavement is ideal since grass can lead to a higher number of falls, but some streets are safer than others. 

It’s best to practice on a residential street where vehicles have to obey lower speed limits. Still, it’s essential that you keep an eye out for drivers. If something were to happen, speak with a law firm representing bicycle accident victims as soon as possible.