How to Teach Kids to Enjoy Bike Riding

Even 20 years ago, most children had a bike and would spend hours, particularly in the summer months, out and about on their bikes. Then came computer games and the Internet and, with the increase in the fear of crime on top, kids seemed to stop playing outside as much. Facing a generation of obese children, it is time for parents to reintroduce the joys of exercise in the great outdoors. There are a number of ways to teach kids to enjoy bike riding.

Teach them to cycle properly

Rather than just give your kids bikes and expect them to get on with it, teach them to cycle so that you can be sure they are safe on their bikes. The younger you teach them, the better. Start with a basic bike and some stabilisers and take them to the park. Don’t worry if your kids are older; they may be able to learn to ride a bike at school, or you can take them somewhere quiet and teach them in private. Older children probably won’t want their friends to witness them falling off a bike before they have got their “bike legs.”

Go out as a family

One of the best ways of teaching kids to enjoy bike riding is to lead by example. Get into the habit of going out with the whole family, especially when the weather is good. Find trips that aren’t too long or arduous and make sure that the kids can keep up. You don’t want to have to carry them and their bikes all the way back. Make a day of it and include a picnic, as well as a visit to a place of interest. It’s a great way to ensure that your kids are safe on a bike, plus you get to save on the costs of running a car.

Introduce kids to cycling competitions

One of the many advantages of the London 2012 Olympics and a fantastic British cycling team is that many people, old and young, became interested in cycling. In the U.K., special bike paths are opening everywhere. Often they are virtually flat and therefore suitable for cyclists of all ages. If you don’t live in the U.K. , or your children missed the Olympics boat, there are numerous cycling competitions in which you can interest your kids, such as the Tour de France or your area’s equivalent.

Let them choose their own bike

Bikes can be expensive, but if you shop around, you should be able to find a selection at a reasonable price. Kids’ bikes are often available second-hand because the seller bought a bike for his or her kid without checking that he/she liked it. Don’t make the same mistake with your kid. Give them some control and let them choose their own bike. Very young children may like something to do with their favourite television or book character; older children may want something considered cool by their age group. Hopefully, together you will find something that suits them and your purse.

Don’t pressure them

You won’t teach your children to enjoy bike riding if you pressure them into doing it. You won’t teach your children to enjoy bike riding if you push them into finishing distances that are too long for them, or participating in competitions when they are not competitive. Teach them to ride and then go from there. Hopefully if you and your family in general like bike riding, your kids will follow suit, but if they don’t, forcing them to do it will just make them resent it even more.

Consider different types of biking

Bike riding isn’t always about getting from A to B on road bikes. Adventurous kids may love the challenge and excitement of mountain biking. There is also BMXing, time trials and velodrome cycling for the competitive spirited older children. For those who prefer something more independent, there are spinning classes, indoor exercise bikes with programmable courses and even unicycling. As older children grow out of having an ordinary bike hobby, you can encourage them to try something a bit different.

Teaching kids to enjoy bike riding doesn’t have to be a major chore. Make it part of your family’s lifestyle and your kids will hopefully come to enjoy it in their own right.