I can remember my summers so vividly.  Riding my bike in a secured parking lot where my sister and I knew that cars rarely came.  I would ride that bike for hours. My sister and I even made up ‘dance’ routines with our bikes to the hits of the summer…ah the memories.

I can actually remember the first time a rode a 2 wheeler.  I had previously ridden a bike with training wheels, but my friends had a small bike that fit me that only had two wheels.  It was small enough that I could comfortably place my feet flat on the ground when I felt unstable.

By the time I was 10, I was trying all sorts of cool things that my sister was doing…riding without holding the handle bar, mounting the bike in this cool way that my dad used to.  I felt so free.  Nothing felt quite as good as riding my bike down the boardwalk with the ocean breeze blowing.

Of course, times have changed.  When I was a child we never thought of wearing a helmet while riding.  You just didn’t do that.  Today, if you’re NOT wearing a helmet you’re not being safe and smart.  Particularly if you are riding your bike in the street.

Also, training wheels are not the only way to learn to ride a bike.  Today, gliders are particularly popular with parents.  I’m not promoting them or suggesting that every parent run out and buy them.  However, this is another way to familiarize a child with the concept of balance and bike riding.

As an occupational therapist, I look at the many benefits that riding a bike has on development. Most people don’t break down the task but riding a bike involves several major developmental milestones such as balance, core strength, visual scanning, bilateral motor coordination, and lower extremity strength just to name a few.

Just because a child is 5 doesn’t mean that he should be able to ride a bike.  We as parents need to be patient and understand all of the foundational skills that must be in place before a child will be able to ride even a tricycle.  If your child has weak legs, they may not have the strength to pedal. If your child can’t maintain a seated position on the floor without supporting himself with his hands, or leaning to one side or the other, they may not have the core strength and balance to ride a 2-wheeler.

Bottom line, learning to ride a bike takes many more steps and foundational skills than we often think about.  So don’t beat yourself up as a parent if your child isn’t riding a 2-wheeler at age 4 or 5.  Give it some time.  Give them plenty of opportunities. And enjoy the process. 🙂