Summer is a great time of year to get back on your bike. Here are a few key concepts to help your child ditch the training wheels!
The key to learning how to balance and ride on a two-wheeled bike is to ensure proper stability at the trunk, allowing your child to move their arms and legs freely for steering and pedaling. Here are some tips to help bring the physical components of bike riding all together.
A balance bike is a bike with no pedals. A balance bike can be purchased, or you can simply remove the pedals from your child’s current bike until they get the hang of it.
First, start with having your child sit on the bike, lower the seat so their feet touch the ground. Have them walk the bike with their feet to begin to learn how to balance without training wheels.
As this gets easier, progress to using both feet at the same time to push the bike and pick their feet up off the floor to glide while maintaining their balance.
Another way to work on balance is to teach your kids how to catch themselves by placing their foot down when they feel like they are tipping over. Hold the bike stationary for you child as they place both feet on the pedals. Let go of the bike, allowing it to fall to one side or the other. Your child should place their foot down in order to catch their balance.
Using cones or other objects, set up a pattern for your child to steer around. This can be done with a balance bike while scooting/walking it through or with pedaling if your child has mastered their balance.
Start to Pedal
When your child is ready to pedal, have them start standing with their feet flat on the floor. Have them lift one foot onto the pedal that is lifted at around 2-3 o’clock. As they push down on the pedal to get the bike going, they will lift their other foot onto the other pedal and push down to maintain momentum. If needed, you can help steady the bike by gently placing your hands on your child’s shoulder or the bike seat.
Bonus Pro Tip:
Avoid the discomfort of hunching over to push young riders along on their tricycles. Lace a sturdy rope around the bike’s structure, careful to avoid the spokes and pedals. This allows you to help pull the trike along, adjusting the resistance to match the child’s ability.
Remember to always practice safe cycling. Wear a helmet, and obey the rules of the road.
Help your child develop their cycling skills at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s Bike for the Kids on Sunday, September 17 in Elgin, IL. This long-distance bike ride includes a 2.5 mile family ride, pedal parade and kid-friendly entertainment!
Fitness-focused activities are a great complement to a child’s therapy sessions, and an opportunity to work on therapy goals while also participating in an athletic or recreational activity. By encouraging involvement in new activities for children of all abilities, they are learning the importance of health and wellness at a young age.
The benefits of fitness-focused activities are far-reaching and can impact a child in many ways.
“We all need to challenge ourselves in order to reach our potential. Our job as therapists is to to see that potential in others and encourage kids to try activities that are outside their comfort zones, so they will truly be all they can be. Any fitness or recreational activity that interests a child is worth pursuing for the benefits it provides physically as well as emotionally, cognitively and socially.” – Laura Znajda, PT, C/NDT
Children of all abilities should participate in athletic and/or recreational activities as physical fitness is important for ALL. Physical fitness, as defined by the American Physical Therapy Association, is “a dynamic physical state – comprising of cardiovascular/pulmonary endurance; muscle strength, power, endurance and flexibility; relaxation; and body composition – that allows optimal and efficient performance of daily and leisure activities.”
Just because as individual has a disability, does not mean that physical fitness is any less important.
Participating in activities outside of a child’s comfort zone help support their emotional development. Trying something new can be intimidating and challenging. Keep the focus on what makes the activity fun and avoid getting caught up in the competition. Every child approaches new activities differently, but it’s ok to remind them that no one is good at everything. No one! You can help temper frustration by celebrating every improvement – no matter how small, and sharing your own example of a time that practice and persistence led to success.
Physical activities take many forms and are a great opportunity to increase peer interactions, build friendships and promote health and wellness for the whole family. Embrace a child’s interests and find ways to involve friends and family.
Setting Goals and Staying Motivated Community based therapy programs and special recreation can target individualized therapy goals. For example, a child with hemiparesis might be working on running in order to use both sides of her body more fluidly, as needed for natural arm swing while walking. A child with sensory processing challenges might be building the strength needed for wall climbing so that he can include this activity in his weekly routine to assist with state regulation.
Motivation comes from finding ways to turn therapy activities into games with friendly competition, involving the whole family and plenty of cheering!
“Therapy activities include dynamic warm-ups which may include animal walks, relay races, and jumping games; a progressive walk/run/bike program building up to increased time running/biking and increased overall distance; client-specific strengthening and agility tasks to target weak muscle groups and to promote the symmetry of movement required to efficiently run or ride a bike; and stretching to promote muscle flexibility and adequately cool our bodies down.”
– Laura Basi, Physical Therapist
How to Get Involved
Look for organized activities in your community that help bridge the gap between individual therapy and daily life. Here are some examples of upcoming events at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley that present ways for skills to carry over into home, school and the community.
May 6, 2017 Run for the Kids: Superhero Hustle 5K Run/2 Mile Walk
Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, Villa Park, IL
This superhero themed run/walk is a family-friendly event for all ages and abilities. Register here
Set a goal to run the race, roll or drive the distance in a wheelchair or take a few unassisted steps across the finish line.
Participants of the Hustle for Health community based therapy program are training to run all 3.1 miles of the race independently. The Hustle for your Health program began because many children struggled with the 1-mile run in their school P.E. class. A 10-12 week training program is intended to target running pattern and cardiovascular endurance so that participation in community run/walk events becomes a reality.
Rich Howe Photography
Rich Howe Photography
June 9, 2017 Golf Outing in Partnership with Freedom Golf Association
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, Lemont, IL
Enjoy 18 holes of golf and help bring the joy of golf to children with disabilities. Register here
Try something new by learning the game of golf in an adapted golf clinic.
The golf clinic welcomes children of all abilities to participate in the fun with adapted clubs and equipment and 1:1 training from expert golf coaches from Freedom Golf Association.
September 17, 2017 2nd Annual Bike for the Kids Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, Elgin, IL
Choose a cycling distance ranging from 12 – 100 miles or participate in a 2.5 mile family ride. Adapted bicycles and trailers welcome! Register here
Go on regular bike rides and train as a family throughout the summer.
All proceeds from these events support infants, children and adults with developmental delays and disabilities at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley. For a complete list of upcoming events visit here.
Spring is here and bike riding season is upon us! Since May is national bike month (#bikemonth) I want to shed some light on biking, which is a fun activity the whole family can enjoy. Taking off the training wheels can be a big step, so here are a few tips that will ease the transition to a two-wheeler.
First, always make sure the child’s bike is in good condition. Inflated tires, working brakes and an oiled chain help to ensure safety. In order to properly assess if the bike is a proper height for your child, have them stand on the ground and adjust the seat so it is just under their bottom. Practicing getting on and off the bike before riding will also help them feel more independent and comfortable with the transition to a two-wheeler. A proper fitting bike helmet is a must as well! Some children may need comfortable fitting elbow and knee pads for safety.
The ‘run-behind’ method, where Mom or Dad runs behind while holding underneath the bike seat to give the child peace of mind, is a proven technique for beginning the two-wheeler process. Giving positive feedback such as “keep up the good work” can keep your child from getting discouraged while learning the skill of balancing on two wheels. Offering a reward, such a family bike trip to the ice cream shop will keep your child motivated to succeed.
Learning the balance of a two-wheeled bike is often the hardest part when transitioning from training wheels or a tricycle. If your child is having difficulty with the balance of a two-wheeler, it might be good to try a Strider Bike. A Strider Bike is a bike without pedals which can be used by children as young as 18 months to learn the balance, coordination and steering of a two-wheeler. This bike gives children the confidence they need to ride independently before transitioning to a bike with pedals.
The best way to teach your child to bike ride and enjoy overall fitness is to lead by example. So, plan some fun family outings to a forest preserve or park trails today!