Teach your child to ride a bike

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Most of us will remember quite clearly the joy of riding a bike as a child, but not so many of us can recall quite how nerve-wracking those first few times on two wheels were.

If your little ones found a shiny, brand new bike under the Christmas tree this year, here are some tips on how to set them off on the right track.

The right bike
Getting the right sized bike, and one that your children can easily manoeuvre is essential, and while it might take some of the surprise out of unwrapping a bike for Christmas, it's worth taking your youngster to the shop to try it out for size. Make sure that they can put their feet on the ground, and that the bike is light enough for them to pedal easily. If it feels heavy for you to pick up, it'll probably feel like an immovable object for your little one.

Getting your balance
You probably remember wobbling about with stabilisers as a child, and while they are still one option, many parents these days are opting to teach their children with balance bikes in the early years. Without pedals or chains, kids can simply scoot themselves along, learning to balance without anything else to worry about. You can always move onto a proper bike at a later date.

Be forward-looking
It is understandably tempting for little ones to look down when they're unsure of their cycling technique, but looking forward in the direction of travel is the key to success. Start off with your child moving in a straight line, then gradually add little obstacles, so that they can practice looking where they want to go, rather than at the floor.

Slope off
The dilemma of where to start your child riding his bike is a tricky one - a hard, flat surface is easier than pedalling on turf, but the landing isn't so nice when the inevitable mistakes happen.

If possible, look for a gently sloping, grassy area, which will allow your child to push off, pedal and get their balance, but also cushion them should they take a tumble.

Make it social
Most children are only too keen to get learning when they see their new bike, but if yours isn't so sure, involving some of his or her friends can really help with motivation. Try teaming up with other mums and dads and their youngsters so that they can both learn at the same time - it often encourages them to get going.

Staying safe
These days, the proper safety gear is a must, especially once your child starts riding along with the family or on their own, so do invest in a new safety helmet at the least.

Since many of Britain's roads aren't the most pleasant places to ride a bike, look for safe cycle routes for a family ride. The National Cycle Network includes some 13,000 miles of safe cycling routes, and you can find a region-by-region list at British Cycling online.

And to give your kids an extra confidence boost, why not sign them up for the Bikeability scheme? What we would have known as the Cycling Proficiency Test, the scheme is split into levels, including bike control, riding on the road, and more challenging road situations, teaching kids to stay safe in the saddle as they become more adventurous.

What advice would you give to parents teaching their first child to ride a bike? Leave your comments below...