Cycling works as a great activity for children and families to spend quality time together and get some experiential exercise. Its a good idea to introduce your child to this multi dimensional sport at an early age, the benefits of which they can avail for a lifetime.
Riding a bicycle improves a child’s physical fitness and mental health. Research shows that children who cycle to school perform better compared to those who are driven. Thus, parents should incorporate ‘Cycling’ as part of their child’s learning and development plan. The approach and training method might vary depending on the child’s age, for instance a five year old will need more active support while a ten year old may comfortably ride under moderate supervision. Children are quick to absorb riding skills and get tempted to ride fast which is where a parent has to step-in and take control. Beginners should not be exposed to direct traffic and training sessions must happen within a protected area. There are chances that your child may encounter a fall but that should not disturb you from going ahead with your training lessons. Remember, failure is part of learning. Set backs should motivate your child to keep focus and stay alert. Once they master the skill, the joy and freedom of riding will double.
Cycling offers a wide range of benefits to our health, environment, economy and more importantly relationships. Here are few reasons to ride together with your kids :
- Cycling nurtures ones imagination and triggers fresh ideas, thus makes your child think creatively. When riding in company of parents children can freely resolve their curiosity with constant interaction. Some part of learning happens through their own observations as they get more close to natural surroundings.
- Cycling few hours a week reduces stress and keeps the mind active. Being a low impact workout it helps builds core muscles and increases blood flow.
- Apart from advantages of getting regular physical exercise, a family cycling together is more happier as you bond with your kids and feel the winds rush through your hair.
- Cycling helps in building a strong character, boosts confidence and gives freedom to travel. The child gathers a variety of experiences as you go out exploring new places.
- Children who ride regularly grow up physically and mentally stronger and are better equipped in handling adverse life situations.
- Cycling is good for social networking where children can make new friends and exchange ideas.
- If children develop the habit of riding to school from an early age, it will become their personal transport when they grow up.
- Lastly, your local community will be proud of your family and you will earn appreciation for leading a ‘Sustainable Life’.
Tips for Safe Cycling:
- Buy the right size of bicycle for your kid. Seek expert guidance and let your child try a few models to make a good choice.
- Make your child comfortably dressed. Adhere to weather conditions – light clothing that wicks away moisture in summers and extra layers during winters.
- Safety is most important. Use training wheels to learn balancing. Helmets and knee pads will help prevent injury.
- It is important for young kids to learn hand signals and use them at appropriate occasions. This can be achieved through continuous practice.
- Children get attracted to bright colors and having reflectors, lights and their favorite accessories can add up to their overall riding experience.
- Ensure the cycles are serviced regularly to avoid breakdowns. Teaching basic maintenance techniques to handle breakdowns is a good idea but avoid being forceful.
- Try safe and interesting routes so that children feel excited to visit the place, get entertained and play as much as they like. If they find it boring, you need to reconsider your route plan.
- Make adequate stops in between rides and carry ample fluids and eatables.
- Ensure the cycling distance is manageable as kids shouldn’t feel too tired. Carry essentials like air pumps, sunscreens, hats, wet wipes etc. but do not load your child with unnecessary baggage.
Children love cycling and so make it a fun activity. It doesn’t matter even if you are using basic cycles and equipment’s. The single most important thing is to let them ride and feel the joy of cycling. Its a pleasure to watch them ride especially when they hit the pedal and endlessly ring the bell…tring tring…..tring tring!
Cover photo: Pradeep and Pranay Sharma
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai