Building confidence: Overcoming fear in kids cycling

30 November 2023 - Learning to Ride

Introduction

Cycling is not just a mode of transport or a form of exercise; it is a remarkable achievement for many children. Learning to ride a bike marks independence and freedom. The moment a child learns to ride a bike is an amazing milestone for both kids and parents. However, for some children, it can be a daunting and awkward experience. Fear and uneasiness can be barriers that prevent some kids from fully embracing the joy of cycling. In this blog, we explore effective ways to help kids overcome their fears, build confidence, and enjoy cycling.

“That feeling of accomplishment is vital for children’s well-being and self-esteem! Cycling provides a clear, achievable and realistic goal for your child to feel great about! From cycling to the shops, the playground, nursery or school, your child has travelled from A to B, themself! That’s something they will be proud of and cherish. Research shows that kids with a clear sense of self-worth are happier and perform better in school.”- Hannah Spink, Bumblebee Physiotherapy

📸@henryslocks

Ensure your child is on the correct bike:

Before embarking on the exciting journey of teaching your child to ride a bike, it's essential to lay the foundation with the right equipment. One of the first and most crucial steps is ensuring that your child is on the correct bike size. Most parents want their child to ride a bigger bike that will last longer. This can discourage your child if they start their adventure on the wrong foot, so don't be tempted to go this route. Unlike conventional kids' bikes that rely on age as a determining factor, Frog Bikes takes a different approach. Frog bikes are sized based on leg length, recognising that this is a more accurate and reliable measure for finding the perfect fit for each child. Children are unique and come in all shapes and sizes, growing at different times, so age alone isn’t a reliable measure.

Click here to find out more about sizing a child the Frog way >>

Understanding the fear:

It's essential to recognise that fear and apprehension are natural emotions, especially when attempting something new. For kids, the fear of falling, getting hurt, or not being able to balance can be overwhelming. Asking a child to learn on a bike with pedals before they have mastered balance can compound this frustration. Children can learn balance on either a balance bike or a pedal bike with the pedals removed. As parents and caregivers, it is crucial to address these concerns with empathy and patience.

“We feel that the transition for Alfie from balance bike to pedals was almost overnight. He was already so confident balancing that when he jumped on the first pedal bike, he only needed a little guidance to get the idea of pedalling and, off he went!”- Frog Ambassador, Alfie’s mum, Amy.

📷@akarichan2022

Check out the benefits of a balance bike >>

Start slow and steady:

The key to building confidence in kids is to start slow. Begin with a balance bike to help them get used to the feeling of being on a bike without the fear of falling. Allow them to practise in a safe and open space, such as a quiet park or an empty car park. Gradually, as they gain balance and coordination, you can explore different places or even attempt to add the pedals if they were removed in the first place.

📷@the_life_of_arlo_and_orla

Check out child-friendly pump tracks in the UK >>


Encouragement and positive reinforcement:

Encouragement plays a vital role in boosting a child's confidence. Praise their efforts, no matter how small, and celebrate their achievements. Positive reinforcement, such as clapping or cheering, can go a long way in making them feel proud of their accomplishments. Avoid putting pressure on them and instead focus on creating a supportive and nurturing environment.

📸@mael_cycliste

Lead by example:

Children often learn by observing others, especially their parents or older siblings. If they see you enjoying cycling and confidently manoeuvring your bike, they are likely to feel inspired and motivated. Consider going for family bike rides, which not only provide an opportunity for bonding but, also allow kids to observe and learn from your cycling habits.

📷 @Oliverrideshisbike

Teach safety skills:

Fear often stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding. Teaching kids basic safety skills, such as how to use brakes, signal turns, and look out for obstacles, can instil a sense of control and confidence. Ensure they wear a helmet and other appropriate safety gear, reinforcing the importance of protection while cycling.

📷 @2wheels2kids

Be patient and supportive:

Every child is different, and they progress at their own pace. Be patient with their learning process and avoid comparing them to others. Offer continuous support and be there to catch them if they fall, both literally and figuratively. Your reassurance can make a significant difference in helping them overcome their fears.

📷 @the_life_of_arlo_and_orla

The Frog Bikes team are always attending events around the UK, and we love setting up a demo track and getting kids on bikes. We met Judith at the USK show and her son was not riding a bike yet, but he left the event confident in cycling. This was precisely because he had the opportunity to try the correct size bike and a feeling of ease, and he addressed the problem head-on with help from the Frog team and his mother.

Harry’s mum, Judith- from the USK Show event-

"I wanted to say a massive thank you to Jerry...
His patience at the USK Show on Saturday with our boy was amazing...
Harry's confidence was sky high and BOOM and now he is riding his bike! The stardust he sprinkled was amazing. Harry has gone from strength to strength with his riding since, with increased confidence.
Thank you"


Conclusion:

Building confidence in kids cycling requires a combination of patience, encouragement, and a supportive environment. By understanding their fears, starting slowly, providing positive reinforcement, leading by example, teaching safety skills, and being patient, we can empower children to overcome their anxieties and embrace the joy of cycling. Remember, the journey towards confidence may have its ups and downs, but with the right guidance and support, every child can conquer their fears and enjoy the freedom that comes with riding a bicycle.

Resources

Bikeability for my child >>
Top 10 health benefits of cycling for kids >>
Tips for safe and fun urban riding >>
Safety first: Essential gear for kids cycling >>


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