Most kids want to learn to ride a bike, and it’s an easy way to get them into the fresh air and exercising, but could it have more than the obvious benefits?
Cycling will help your child develop their leg muscles and strengthen their bones. The continued exercise will help build their stamina and improve their cardiovascular development. It will also increase their coordination and balance. It takes time to learn to ride a bike and the persistence they’ll need to succeed will stand them in good stead for learning other difficult skills they’ll need in life; it will also give you a concrete example to refer to when they need a little encouragement to keep going. The sense of achievement and increased confidence they’ll have the first time they cycle away without their training wheels is hard to find elsewhere.
Riding a bike can be dangerous, there’s the risk of falling off or crashing into something for a start, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk and minimize any injuries. Making sure the bike is the right size for your child, is mechanically sound and has proper safety equipment like lights, bells and reflectors is important. You also need to get the right safety equipment to protect heads, knees and elbows, checking regularly that it still fits and is in good repair.
You might also want to lay down rules about using the bike, for instance, wearing proper shoes and long trousers, only riding during daylight hours or staying within a certain locale. It’s a good idea to enrol them on a road safety course to give them a better awareness of the rules and risks of riding a bike in public. It can be tempting to teach them yourself but, painful as it is to admit, it’s entirely possible that a child will accept advice from an instructor that’s identical to the information you’ve been trying to get them to listen to for weeks without success.
Riding a bike is something all children should be able to experience. It’s also natural for a parent to want to protect their children from harm. The best thing is, with a few simple precautions, everyone can be happy.