For those folks who love skiing, there’s no better feeling than sharing it with the people you love and passing on that passion. And while there are plenty of programs and tools designed to help you teach your kids how to ski, there are fewer resources out there that deal with helping them learn to love skiing.
That’s a real shame because even though it’s pretty easy to teach the basic fundamentals and mechanics of skiing, the real magic comes when a person falls in love with the sport and embraces the entire experience. So, while we can’t guarantee that these tips will make your kids love skiing, they’ll go a long way towards making it an activity that they look forward to and enjoy, and not just another thing they’re expected or required to do. So here are our tips and tricks to help you grow your kids not just into skiers, but into passionate, lifelong lovers of snowsports.
Keep the focus on them, not you
The most obvious thing to remember is that this is all about your kids’ experience, not your own. So if you head up to the mountain with a bunch of plans for what you want to ski and what you want your day to look like, you’re setting yourself up for failure and loud public meltdowns. Your kid probably doesn’t have the attention span and stamina for a full day of learning how to ski. They’re probably not interested in catching the first chair or skiing bell to bell. And they don’t need to be. Let them be kids!
So, when you’re planning your day of skiing with kiddos, keep in mind their age and maturity level. Think about other activities they enjoy, how long can they do them without getting bored and tired? That’s probably about the same amount of time you’ll have to ski with them before they need a break. Make sure they’re comfortable and happy, because if they’re having a good time they’re much more likely to fall in love with skiing.
Get them familiar with gear and the fundamentals at home
Even for adults who are just picking up skiing, the whole resort experience is overwhelming. There’s just a lot going on, from a foreign environment to unfamiliar gear, to scary ski lifts and new skills. And to smaller kids who don’t know what to expect at all, the sheer foreignness of it all can scare them and make them shut down and pitch a fit. So do your best to ease them into the experience gently by preparing as much as possible at home.
Take the opportunity the night before to get them all dressed up in their ski clothes and make sure they’re comfortable. Check the interfaces, where their mittens meet their jacket, where their jacket meets their face, and where their ski pants meet their jacket. Does everything fit comfortably? Are there big gaps where cold air and snow could get in? Talk to them about how cold and snowy it will be, make a plan to help them get layers off and use the bathroom. Try to go through a range of scenarios with them to help them understand that it’s going to be different and exciting but you have it all under control.
If you have your own kid’s ski equipment it’s a really good idea to practice putting it on and taking it off at home. It’s really nice to make sure their boots are comfortable before you’re out on the hill. For extra bonus points you can get them all geared up and practice moving their skis into the classic pizza and french fry positions on the carpet in your living room.
The key to not overwhelming your kids the first few times you take them skiing is to eliminate as many variables as possible. Get them comfortable with their ski clothing and gear so that they know how to use it when you’re actually on the mountain.
Use things they already enjoy to help incentive progress
What motivates your kids? Candy? Hot chocolate? A special stuffed animal? Whatever it is, most kids have something that just automatically cheers them up. And it’s really helpful if you can link those pleasant feelings to the experience of skiing. Think of it less as a bribe, and more as a reward. No parent has ever regretted packing a pocket full of their kids’ favorite candy before a day on the hill. Or rigging a way for them to carry that stuffed animal in your backpack.
Adults love skiing because it stimulates our pleasure receptors. The experience of making a turn or getting a face shot releases the chemicals that make us happy. But kids haven’t had those happy experiences yet. They just know that they’re cold and uncomfortable outside. So use things they already love to help them learn that skiing is something to look forward to and enjoy.
Put them in a ski school
They say that you can either teach your partner to ski, or you can enjoy a long and happy relationship together, but it’s near impossible to do both. And while teaching your kids to ski probably won’t lead to them disowning you, it’s still a really good idea to leave it to the professionals as soon as they’re old enough that you trust them in a ski school. Ski instructors live and breathe kids skiing. They know how to motivate stubborn youngsters and their love of the sport is contagious.
It’s not a lapse in parenting to put your kid in ski school. In fact, it’s one of the best decisions you can make. Drop them off, cheer for them from the lift, and enjoy making turns with your partner. They’ll fall in love with the sport on their own and will be matching turns with you soon enough.
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