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Have a kid who just doesn’t want to ski? You’re not alone and we’re here to help!
With each of our kids, we’ve had phases where they just weren’t really feeling into skiing. The good news is that it’s usually short-lived, but it can be incredibly frustrating at the moment, especially if you’re on a big family ski trip.
I recently got a message from a reader (and I’ve gotten dozens like this in the last few years)
“HELP! I LOVE to ski, but I just can’t get my kids to love it. We started them skiing young and are doing our best to make it fun, but after the chairlift ride is over, it feels like it’s nonstop tears and tantrums. The youngest can stop and turn but isn’t a solid enough skier that I’d take them off the bunny hill. The older two are okay skiers and can ski easy blues, but I just can’t seem to get them all to catch onto the fun of family skiing. Any suggestions?”
I completely empathize with this ski mom! All parents have an ambition of sharing their favorite pastimes with their kids and watching them flourish alongside us. However, reality tends to be different than our dreams and expectations. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean we should give up on our aspirations for our children altogether!
Every parent knows that when kids are feeling uneasy or struggling with something, they tend to steer away from it – this often becomes apparent during family outings. This is where patience comes in; do not give up! From one ski-loving mom or dad to another, here are some top tips we’ve gathered to help even the most hesitant of skiers overcome their fears and start enjoying the slopes.
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1. Take a Break
Kids often don’t want to ski simply because they’re tired. The first thing that you should do when your kids say that they don’t want to ski is to take a break. Often they may need to step away from the ski hill for a bit and reset before they tackle the rest of their day. Lots of hot chocolate usually does the trick for us!
2. Talk About Why They Don’t Want To Ski
The first thing that you should do when your kids don’t want to ski is to talk to them about it. Some kids have real fears or concerns that need to be addressed before they’ll feel comfortable skiing more. Oftentimes, kids just need to feel heard and understood before they’re ready to jump into something new. While younger kids may not be able to really articulate why they don’t want to ski, older kids absolutely will be able to.
Read: Tips for Skiing with Toddlers
Tips for Skiing With Teens
3. Don’t Pressure
When your little ones are first learning to ski, the focus should be on making it a fun and enjoyable experience. No matter how badly you want them to master the slopes, ensure they’re having a great time while doing so! If it’s not fun, take a break so it doesn’t leave them with a bad taste in their mouth. If they do feel pressure, some kids will totally shut down and not want to ski EVER AGAIN! Let them feel like they have some control over the situation and that skiing is their idea (get creative with this one).
4. Make It A Game
With incredibly short attention spans, kids can be easily distracted. If you can make things a game, they’ll soon forget that they’re skiing and before you know it, they’ll be skiing along like a champ.
We literally have to use this EVERY TIME when our kids are first starting to ski. Every one of them always freaks out a bit on their first ski run of the day. They forget what we learned the last time, they get scared on familiar terrain, ski extra slowly, and have falls that they shouldn’t. The secret we learned is that if we start off that first run by playing one of their favorite ski games, everything is different. Since they’re so caught up in playing the game, they jump right into skiing and we completely ski the anxiety of that first run.
This trick doesn’t just work on the first run of the ski day, but any time your child is struggling and doesn’t want to ski. Need ideas on ski games? Read about our top ski game suggestions for all ages and stages of skiing!
5. Use the Power of Video
Whether it’s a YouTube video or a full-on ski movie, using ski movies can be a great way of motivating kids to want to ski. Maybe they see their favorite YouTuber on a family ski trip and can relate to what they’re doing. Perhaps you have kids who love the idea of cool tricks, and a Warren Miller movie really lights them up! Think about what kind of videos excite your kid and then find a movie that goes along with that!
Read: 14 Best Ski Movies To Watch With Kids
6. Let Your Kids Be In Charge
The next time you hit the slopes, let your kids be in charge. Help them choose the most fun trails and let them lead the way if they’re comfortable. While younger kids love this, older kids and teens will THRIVE when you give them the chance to lead for a while. Getting your teen to love skiing with the family can be TRICKY, and this is one of the best secrets we’ve found to help them engage in a family ski day!
7. Act Silly
To ease the strain between you and your kids, try to be playful with them! Whether it’s a snowball fight, snow angels or just telling knock-knock jokes – making time for silliness really works in helping everyone loosen up. Once the mood is lightened, you’ll all enjoy yourselves better than before. So take a break from whatever stresses are surrounding you and start having some fun together!
8. Plan For Non-Ski Days
Yes, it’s winter and yes, skiing is probably your favorite winter sport, but your kids might not share that same passion. Remember that your kids haven’t developed your love of skiing yet, but there are plenty of other great ways to enjoy winter that may open up the door to them loving skiing in the future.
Here are some of our favorite winter activities besides skiing:
Building a snow fort
9. Reevaluate Ski Lessons
Some children actually have a very difficult time in formal lessons. They feel like they are being measured up against all their peers in their group and this can be stressful. If lessons created part of the problem, take a break from them and just ski for a few days.
Other kids may be struggling skiing with mom and dad and a lesson will actually HELP ease the tension. Take a step back and look at the situation to see where you think your child could benefit the most!
10. Play Ski Games At Home
If you have a younger child, one great way to get them excited about skiing is with ski toys. There are some really great ski toys for indoor and outdoor play that our kids have loved playing with. Have a kid who likes video games? My 8 and 10-year-old boys both LOVE to play the Wii Ski video game, and it always does a great job of getting them excited for their next ski day!
11. Include Friends
If your child is struggling skiing with your family, consider inviting some friends to join you at the ski hill. This is often a great way to motivate kids to ski and do harder things when they’re with their friends.
12. Resort to Bribery!
Although it would be lovely to think that our young ones are always self-motivated, incentives certainly make a difference when they aren’t! Ever since we started skiing with our kids, we always carry candy with us as a reward for a good run. Usually, it’s a roll of LifeSavers or a container of Tic Tacs, but it works wonders. Everyone who had a great run gets a treat on the chairlift EVERY SINGLE TIME! The kids know that they only get treats on the lift and if they don’t get it once, our kids have always been really motivated to earn one the next run.
If you need bigger motivation, think of a reward that can come after the ski day. One of our sons really needed a lesson (he was struggling to learn a specific skill), but was SO SCARED of going without mom and dad. We offered him an ice cream sundae if he could make it through the day without crying, and it worked wonders. Think about what motivates your child and consider if you need to have an external reward to get your kid out on the ski hill!
Likewise, we often bribe our kids to help unload the gear when we get home. Mom and Dad are usually wasted after a long day of skiing with the kids and we grab a takeout pizza on the way home for dinner. The kids know that if they want to have pizza, they have to help unload and put the gear away!