How to Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike

Learning to ride a bike can be difficult.  So can teaching someone to ride a bike.  I recently taught my 4 and 6 year olds to ride without training wheels, and this is what I learned.

bike rider

How to Teach Your Child To Ride a Bike


First of all, a kid is ready to ride on their own when they want to.  Don’t force them to or they will fight learning and there will be tears.  If they don’t want to, host a bike-riding party for some friends who can ride without training wheels and let the peer pressure work its magic.

  • Wear running shoes.
  • Put down the baby that usually rides your hip.
  • Find a level, large section of asphalt to learn on so that you don’t have to attempt too many turns in the beginning. (church parking lots are good for this, so are cul-de-sacs).
  • Help the kid on to the bike and then hold on to your child, not the bike.  This is the most key part of the process.  If you grab the handle or the seat back, they will not learn what it feels like to be totally balanced, and you will be running a LOT more because it will take a LONG time to teach them how to correct and find their balance.  So, loosely hold on to their back or sides and keep them upright. They will likely fall a few times, which isn’t a big deal.  Falling isn’t bad, getting hurt is.  So keep them from getting hurt.
  • Instruct them to pull the handle bars to the middle and feel how it feels when they are balanced.  Keep identifying when they are centered “Do you feel that?! That’s just right”.
  • Go pretty fast.  It is easier to stay upright with more momentum.  (running shoes)
  • When they are pretty good at keeping in the center, let go!  Keep running by their side to correct them if they start to wobble, but let them feel the physics of it without any interference from you.
  • Keep doing straight sections until they are ready to start turning.  They’ll just get better and better with practice.  So give them lots of time to ride.

The key to this, like most of parenting, is knowing when to let go and being willing to do it.

7 responses to “How to Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike

  1. my daughter is too scared to ride her bike with *training wheels* I think we need some peer pressure up in here.

  2. I recall when your brother ran into the back of a parked truck trying to learn to turn or brake or anything but run into the back of a parked car. But once the oldest sibling had figured it out the others were more willing to try.

  3. Just stumbled on your blog for the Babysitter post, and I’m having the best time reading what you have to say. Thanks for these bike tips, I’ll be using them soon!

    -Kristina, A Sister in the Gospel

    P.S. My husband is wondering if the cherry plant you worked at was in Payson. He worked there for three cherry seasons.

    • I can speak for the cherry plant. It was in Payson, Muir-Roberts. I was lucky enough to work with Jan one summer.

  4. I am the father of 7 sons so I have had extensive experience with bike riding beginings. The sole key is the child’s ability to learn how to make his body balance with out thinking. To make it instinctual. This is easiest to learn from an upright position. Start your child on a scooter. The “Razor” type are the best. Their bodies will adjust to balancing with a short period of time. Then the fear of sitting on a seat, pedals and brakes will be the only thing they have to master.

  5. Runbikes! I am a big time bike rider (mountain and road) and my boys all learned on runbikes. I never once (not once… no joke) ran with the bike. They scooted around on their runbikes for a year, I put them on appropriately sized pedal bikes the following year, they rode away. Runbikes let kids learn balance (the hard part) first, BEFORE they learn to pedal (the easy part). Oh, and I don’t sell them, this isn’t an ad.

  6. There you go! I think I was making that bigger mistake of handling the seat than holding my child.This is probably the reason why my child became a dependent on me and could not feel the right balance. Thanks for these useful tips, I am sure they will be a great help 🙂

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