6 Simple Guidelines to Make Skiing with Your Children Fun for All
Most people who love skiing want to pass on the joy of XC skiing to their children. By following these simple rules, your kids should progress quickly and learn to love being out.
1. Ski when the weather’s nice. The first season, skiing should be done when the weather is decent. You don’t want to subject your kids to extremely cold or wet conditions. The first few mountain experiences should be fun. If they’re cold or wet they’ll associate skiing with being miserable and they won’t want to go again. This may mean you don’t take your kids skiing until spring conditions arrive later in the season.
2. Don’t force your kids to ski. If they don’t want to hit the slopes, let them horse around in the snow first. Build a snowman or have a snowball fight. The first season we were constantly negotiating with our boys telling them we’ll spend a half hour building a snowman then we’ll spend an hour skiing. By the second season they weren’t interested in snowmen anymore, they wanted to ski.
3. Hot chocolate breaks work like magic. We stop for hot chocolate breaks at least once each ski day. The kids associate this treat with skiing and it gets them even more excited to hit the slopes knowing they’ll end up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
4. Play games while your skiing. Play follow the leader or make airplane noises. Have your kids try to spray you with snow when they stop. If you make skiing about having fun and not about learning to ski they’ll progress much quicker.
5. Don’t rush it. Age 4 is a good time to start, although when kids reach 5 or 6 it becomes even easier as upper and lower body separation becomes possible. This separation facilitates easier learning and critical skill development as their little legs and upper bodies can begin to work independently of each other. And keep your expectations low. All children develop at a different rate. Like crawling and talking, your child will be ready to ski or board at a different age then your friends’ kids.
6. Have your kids ski with other kids. I’ve already touched on this, but doing this is a great idea and will improve they’re skiing dramatically. When they’re with their peers they’re having fun and trying to keep up with one another. If you have timid skiers putting them with more aggressive skiing kids will usually solve the problem.
7. Show your kids that it’s OK and even fun to fall. During our first season my oldest was pretty nervous about falling. My older brother alleviated that fear when he intentionally fell in front of my boys. They laughed and laughed and even commented that they were better skiers than my brother. It immediately took the fear of falling out of the equation. I still intentionally, (sometimes unintentionally) fall in front of my kids. It never ceases to make them laugh hysterically. The more dramatic you make the fall the better.
If you follow these 6 rules and have some patience your kids will become excellent and eager skiers.
by Toby Bayard