How To Teach A Child To Pedal After Using A Balance Bike

So my son turned 4. He had been riding on his balance bike for 2 years and he had outgrown it. We deliberated on the decision as to whether to get him a pedal bike or a balance bike. Ulitmately we decided on a pedal bike (looking back in hindsight I would’ve gone for another balance bike – but I didn’t know the problems we’d had.

As we’d had a balance bike for such a long time and my son had loved it so much we forgoed the tricycle stage as well as other pedal ride ons. Consequently this meant that he never learned to pedal. I thought it was a skill he would learn quite quickly but alas this wasn’t the case.

My son is quite small for his age and he has really struggled when pedaling on his new bike. He could pedal backwards but struggles to have the power to pedal forwards. I have encouraged him in lots of ways but he asked for his green balance bike back lots of times.

Anyway, so I turn to google for help on teaching a child to pedal and have found quite a bit of advice which I have compiled below. I have tried some of them and we have made some progress but we still aren’t there yet but there are more to try.

Start on A Slight Decine

actually this is actually my own tip. If gravity is helping it’s easier for little legs to push on the pedals to get them to move. We have tried the pedal bike on a slight downhill slope (not too steep otherwise they might go flying!). When doing this he has managed to pedal round a couple of tips. So this is how we are going to proceed with encouraging him to pedal. I

Tie The Feet To The Pedals

This is an interesting tip which I haven’t tried out yet but I can see it might help. As my son pedals, his feet quite often lose contact with the pedal so by attaching them to the pedal it might help his feet keep the right placement. I would only try this if you are using training wheels on your pedal bike. I have been hesitant to try it so far as I’m not sure my son would react very well to having his feet tied to the pedals but it may work for some kids.

Move their feet round for them on the pedals with your hands

This is another technique we have tried. I literally move his feet on the pedals round and round with my hands. It is hard work – so I can’t keep it up for very long. I am also having to rely on my son steering the bike correctly which he sometimes doesn’t do so I have to keep my eye on this as well.

I think this is a good technique to show a child what they have to do but having done it quite a few times, it hasn’t really helped my son pedal on his own. However, it may work for other kids so is worth a try.

Practise with Other Ride Ons

there are lots of ride ons aimed at young preschool kids which have pedals. The other day we went to a play area which had some John Deere tractors with pedals for kids to move around on. My son had a go. Again he was reluctant to use the pedals and wanted me to push him round on it. However, I encouraged him to have a go. We used the tractor on a slight decline and he managed to pedal a couple of times. So I think we are making progress with this one.

You don’t have to buy rides ons specifically to do this. You could borrow a friend’s ride on or go to a friend’s house or a play area which has ride ons with pedals. Or perhaps, buy a cheap second hand ride on if they are more enthusiastic about using a ride on than their bike.


Practise pedalling without the bike but with your hands

I like this tip and have just read it so will be giving it a go and will update the article. Sit your child in a chair get them to place both feet on your hands. Push their feet around with your hands, moving them as if they would be when pedalling a bike. Then get the child to put pressure on your hands and move your hands like they were pedals on a bike. You can also get your child to lie down on their back and do this so they can get to experience the pressure they would need to put down when pedalling.

Give Your Child a Demonstration of Pedaling

Kids learn by watching and copying, so if you have a bike you can demonstrate how you pedal your bike. If you don’t have a bike, try and show them other kids pedaling on their bikes so they get the idea.

Make Sure Your Child has the Right Seat Height

With they right seat height they should be able to pedal comfortably. To do this make sure that your childs flat foot will fit on the pedal when the pedal is in the lowest position.