There are a few concepts that are a given in life when it comes to children: Kids go to school and they receive checkups at both the doctor’s and dentist’s office. But after that, many concepts are up for debate.
Being a parent is one of the most interesting positions one can ever find themselves in. For starters, today more than ever, information is readily available on virtually any child-related topic the mind could think of. What to feed kids? Check. Where to go with kids? Check. What programs are available to kids? Check. We live in a world where there are seemingly answers for everything, but yet, being a parent remains one of the most difficult jobs a person can ever have.
In case it hasn’t been solidified in your plans yet, I’m here to tell you that there’s one activity your kids should definitely be involved in: biking.
Why am I so confident about this declaration? Perhaps more than just about any other activity I can think of, biking has an abundance of advantages with very few drawbacks.
So when’s a good age to introduce your child to the concept of biking? Personally, I think three years old is a great age to familiarize your child with cycling, whether it be with a tricycle or a run bike. Three is a great age because that’s typically around the time a child really starts getting a sense of balance. Also, this is around the time a child’s communication abilities are at the point where they can soak in some basic instruction without being completely bewildered. Of course, not every child is the same, but in my many years of teaching children how to ride a bike, this has been my experience.
Still not convinced by my brief opening? Well, here are my top reasons that will hopefully convince you that kids should learn how to bike at a young age.
As a parent, one of your ultimate goals is to instill positive habits in your child. Above all, your child’s health is your main concern, and biking at a young age is one of the best ways to make sure this is being addressed. No one will argue the importance of exercise, and there’s no better way to promote exercise than portraying it in a fun way. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather go for a long bike ride in the outdoors than force myself onto a treadmill in a gym. I’m not knocking the treadmill, but I wouldn’t exactly call it fun.
It can be quite the struggle to convince your child to keep active, but with biking, it turns into more of an adventure than a chore. By enjoying the exhilarating opportunities that biking can provide, physical activity can become a more prominent part of a child’s life. At this point, you might be asking yourself, “That’s all well and good, but what about during the winter when biking isn’t really an option?” I understand, in some places biking is just not feasible year round. However, in speaking with many parents over the years, I’ve been told that a child is more welcoming of other active opportunities since exercise has become a well-established part of their daily routine.
What does virtually every child crave while growing up? If your answer was candy, I don’t blame you for one second. But I’m going a little deeper with this question. Sure, while candy and toys might be at the forefront of a child’s mind, so to is freedom. Now, I’m not suggesting that kids should be allowed to do whatever they want, but providing children with the opportunity of having some freedom at a young age can go a long way in grooming a well-rounded individual.
Simply put, bikes give kids the opportunity to explore their tiny universe on their own to a certain degree. Of course, supervision is essential when dealing with young kids, but we can all relate to the idea that having a bit of freedom as kid was a wonderful experience. Just like how being able to walk provides toddlers the opportunity to roam and see new things, the same is true for bikes. It’s one of those experiences early on in life that teaches kids that they are able to do things on their own without constant assistance. As many parents will agree, a child who can be self-sufficient in some regards can bring a great deal of relief.
Biking for confidence
Oftentimes, when people think of great milestones in a young child’s life, the standard first steps and first words typically come to mind. Something that should go hand-in-hand with these achievements is learning how to ride a bike. What makes this accomplishment such an important moment in life?
For starters, it’s a great confidence booster that can lead to other great triumphs. I’ve seen it hundreds of times before: Once young children have mastered the art of pedaling and are able to zoom off on their own, they realize that other challenges can be overcome as well. Think of biking as a gateway to other successes in your child’s life.
In addition, this can create the sense that your child will want to try other things. As a parent, you’re in the position where you typically decide for your children what activities they will participate in. In a perfect world, your child would accept your decision without any hesitation or resistance, but alas, the world is far from perfect. With the amazing feeling your child will have from being able to ride a bike, future negotiations can run a lot more smoothly as your child might start making his or her own suggestions. While team sports are excellent activities for your children to participate in, at times, they can hinder a child’s confidence if they are lacking in certain aspects of the sport. Biking is one of those activities that goes without much of the critique and competition that comes with team sports, which allows for great confidence-building opportunities for many children.
While there are many options out there for parents interested in incorporating certain activities into their child’s life, cycling should be considered one of the most beneficial.
Compared to other sports and activities, biking is something that can be introduced and mastered to a degree at a young age. The confidence, independence and good habit-building that can be provided through biking is something all parents should be aware of when making decisions for their young child. With biking, the saying “too much of a good thing is never good” definitely does not apply.
Nick is the Supervisor for Pedalheads bike camps for kids. For more information, visit www.atlantisprograms.com/.
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