Our kids have all learned to ride their bike before they turned five. It was so much simpler than I thought… maybe because I was anticipating it to be so much harder. There are a few steps that go with learning to ride a bike. Today, I am partnering with Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program to share some tips on how to go from a bike with training wheels to a bike without them! It’s a big step, but so exciting.
Our kids all started out with training wheels…
However… soon enough, they are ready to go!
Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen (MSH) is a program dedicated to reducing accidental injury – the leading cause of death of children ages 0-12. This spring, Make Safe Happen is focusing on safety on wheels – helping parents keep their children safer as they ride and roll on bikes, skates, skateboards and scooters.
How to ditch the training wheels:
First of all, be sure to get a proper fitting helmet. This can be the difference between life & death for a child, if they fall.
In a recent study, Make Safe Happen and Safe Kids Worldwide found that nearly 4 in 10 parents of children ages 5-14 years indicated that their child did not always wear a helmet when biking, skating, skateboarding or scootering. And this is largely because the parent did not perceive a need. That’s pretty scary.
Despite decades of campaigns that encourage parents and kids to recognize the importance of wearing a helmet, the message isn’t sinking in for a lot of parents. It might not feel cool to wear a helmet as a kid; but, we as parents still have an obligation to keep them safe.
Check out this video
2. Start in the grass
Never start on a busy road! If you don’t have a grassy area, pick a path or an empty parking lot. Did you know that fifty children per hour visit the emergency department (ED) as a result of an injury related to bikes, skates, skateboards and scooters? We can help by giving our kids a safe place to ride and being sure that they are wearing the proper safety gear: bike helmets, knee/elbow pads for skates, skateboards and scooter, as well as wrist guards and helmet.
One of the keys to ditching the training wheels is to start your kids off in a place that they feel safe. A place that they are comfortable and a place they know if they fall they will be OK! Choose a place that has some cushion on the ground in case they fall. Places like a flat area of your yard, or an area at their favorite playground area are great spots to start. We taught all of our kids at one of the local schools on the soccer fields. It was a great space that was flat, open, and long enough to give them the courage they need!
3) Make sure the bike fits!
Be sure that their feet can touch the ground. Never use a bike that is too big, as it is dangerous for the child. Be sure that their feet can touch the ground. This makes it easier for your child if they are losing their balance.
Every single one of our kids and our niece and nephew learned on the same (little) bike! It was a little smaller than they ended up riding once they got the hang of it, but it was the perfect bike for learning.
4) Give them plenty of opportunities
This is a Huge Tip! More than anything you try to do… give them a lot of opportunities to go for a bike ride. If their older brothers or sisters are out riding, encourage your little one to try! Head out there with them and teach them the rules of the road. Make it a family activity – and don’t forget your helmets! Be sure to be out there with them when they first take to the road. You want to go over the rules and emphasize the safety precautions that need to be taken.
5) Realize that they will fall
Here was Beau’s first time on a bike. He did great – he would fall & get back up. He would try again & again until he got it. We didn’t worry because he had on a helmet and he was in a safe place. An accident can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and for this reason, our kids will always wear a helmet.
Helmet laws and parental modeling help increase the likelihood that a child will wear a helmet, but there is still work to be done. Make Safe Happen also found that safety on wheels involves more than just bikes. For example, over the last 10 years there has been a significant increase in the number of emergency department visits for scootering – visits are up 40 percent! Yet, parents in the survey conducted by Make Safe Happen and safe Kids Worldwide said they were least likely to enforce helmets on scooters. No matter what they are riding, enforce a helmet. It could save your child.
The top reported reason why children do not wear a helmet was largely because the parent did not perceive a need. Parents surveyed that don’t feel helmet use as necessary either say their child is an experienced rider, or that the area where their child rides is not dangerous. Nine in 10 parents say they believe their community is safe for wheeled activities, and parents in rural areas were least likely to say their children always wear a helmet.
Tips for Parents:
Riding anywhere with hard surfaces or concrete can be dangerous for kids – even a driveway! The top five expert tips to teach include:
1. Wear properly fitted helmets;
2. Ride in safe locations like sidewalks, bike paths or bike lanes whenever possible;
3. Follow the rules of the road;
4. Check all equipment at the start or end of every season;
5. Ride together until kids are comfortable enough to ride on their own.” (find the full report here)
For more helpful info, visit Makesafehappen.com – you will find all sorts of tips to make homes safer including how to keep your family safer on wheels. I would also highly suggest downloading the Make Safe Happen app. The Make Safe Happen app includes tips for safety on wheels, safe nursery tips, fire safety and water safety content and tips; the app also has room by room, age by age checklists. Perfect!
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 million children are treated at emergency rooms across the country and more than 9,000 children die each year due to accidental injuries. A champion for child safety and wellbeing for more than 90 years, Nationwide launched Make Safe Happen in 2015 to empower parents and caregivers with tools and resources to make homes safer.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Nationwide. The opinions and text are all mine.