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Tips for Teaching Anxious Kids How to Ride

Teaching kids the love of cycling

You love cycling and hope very much your child will share that love. However, the thought of balancing on two wheels may make your kid extremely nervous. If you're honest, you may be quite nervous as well. We know falls happen when on a bike, and we hate to see our kids get hurt - even if it's a minor scrape. If you have an anxious kid, we have a few tips for teaching him or her how to ride a bike.

Tip #1 - Be Realistic

Don't start out your cycling lessons by telling your kid riding a bike is easy. It's important to establish realistic expectations. "Bike riding is challenging to learn." "It's going to take some work to learn how to ride." "Yes, you may fall, and that doesn't feel good. But we can get back up and try again!" You can acknowledge the fears your child has, but let them know that fear is not going to be in charge.

Tip #2 - Set a timer

Have a clear time period that you will practice on the bike. For young kids, fifteen to thirty minutes is appropriate. Set a timer on your phone. This way your child knows the lesson isn't going to go on indefinitely. It's easier to push through something challenging when there's a specific finish line in sight.

Tip #3 - Keep Positive

Make sure you both practice positive speech yourself, as well as encourage positive speech for your child. There are no "I can't"s allowed when learning to ride. Teach your child to say, "I'll try." If we say we can't, we certainly won't succeed. Practice doing something outside your comfort zone in front of your child so that they can see your "I can try" attitude in practice.

Tip #4 - Keep calm and bike on

Kids will feed off of parents' anxiety! It's important that you stay calm. Keep your voice even. Keep directions short and clear. If and when there's a tumble off the bike, don't react too strongly. Your child's emotions will often fall into line with your own emotions.

Tip #5 - When needed, call in reinforcements

There are times when we as parents simply aren't the right ones to teach our kid to ride a bike. A close family friend, a sibling or a local bike class may be an easier environment for a kid to learn the skill. Know yourself and know your child - and put them in the best learning environment possible.

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