For many mountain-loving parents, sharing the sport of skiing with our children is an event we eagerly anticipate. But sometimes the reality of taking young kids skiing can be just as intimidating as it is exciting. After all, how do you make sure that skiing is a positive experience when—let’s face it—temperatures are cold, tiny mittens are hard to keep track of, and there are lots of layers between that kid and a toilet?
Fear not. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a new one, your child is a toddler or a tween, here are a few simple principles that can help ensure everyone (including you!) has a great day on the hill.
1. KEEP IT FUN
First and foremost, skiing should be fun. The attitude should be light, and the focus centered around having a positive experience rather than outputs like number of runs. Ditch your expectations and summon some patience. If that means calling it after two runs because your toddler is cold or nearing a meltdown, so be it. If that means letting your five year-old find jumps in the trees instead of working on “french fry” turns, that’s okay. The goal is for your child to want to come back another day.
2. MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS
When a child is first learning how to ski, do your best to select a day that minimizes distractions. Best not to bring a beginner skier onto the hill for the first time during a blizzard, or in bitterly cold temperatures, and it’s best to avoid crowded days like weekends or holidays whenever possible. If the weather is good, the snow is buff, and there aren’t a million people, beginner skiers are more likely to think skiing is awesome.
3. USE BRIBERY…WE MEAN, INCENTIVES.
When it comes to skiing, there’s nothing wrong with using small treats to help keep your kiddo motivated and interested. Hot chocolate breaks are a must, and a pocketful of gummy bears or M&M’s can go a long way. You can use them to entice your child to turn back-and-forth across the hill, or simply to share a treat on the chairlift. It goes back to #1—if your kid is enjoying herself, she’ll be more focused and, well…compliant.
You may fantasize about perfect ski days with resilient and joyful children, but be aware that those days may be more the exception than the rule. Try these tactics, but keep in mind that kids will be kids. Sometimes they’ll be tired and cranky, or have an agenda all their own.
The key is to approach ski outings with deep patience and to always (always) play the long game, which is to create a lifetime skier. When you see the stoke in your kid’s eyes on his first-ever powder day, you’ll know that you did your job.
Teaching your kids how to ski and instilling a love for the sport is a gift they’ll enjoy for their entire life. And that’s worth its weight in M&Ms and gummy bears.
For more tips and tricks, check out Libby’s blog:
About the Author
Written by Libby Ludlow, Backcountry employee, former Olympic skier, and mom to a toddler. For more age-specific skiing tips, visit her blog here. Or, to pre-order a copy of her children’s book A-B-Skis by clicking here.