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The Brave Ski Mom - Tips for dealing with skiers and snowboarders who say no


If thereís one thing that is difficult for skiing and snowboarding parents, itís accepting the times when our children donít want to ski.

Whether itís a one-time thing or this reluctance persists across the months and (horrors!) years, itís hard for parents to dial it back and stay home with the kids, especially on powder days.

The difficulty is only exacerbated when one child wants to ski and another refuses, thus breaking up the family unit on a valuable weekend, or vacation, day.

Still, if misery loves company, parents dealing with reluctant skiers should know that they are not alone.

We've all been there at one time or another. And not just with little kids. Sometimes itís the bigger kids than suddenly lose interest in skiing.

Here are some ideas and tips for dealing with reluctance, refusal and a total lack of interest in snowsports.

1) Step Back: While itís tempting to bribe, cajole or wheedle your child into going skiing, this is not a good idea. It gives your child all of the power. Just as our dog wonít go into her kennel without a treat, you donít want to set up a situatIon where your child only goes skiing if she gets something.

Thus, the first step, and one which will keep family harmony intact, is to accept your childís feelings.

This can be hard. I remember an especially deep powder day several years back. We were all dressed and ready to go when our youngest son suddenly announced that he would not go.

He was too young to leave at home alone, so I stayed with him. But not until after attempting to bribe him with treats, lunch and the idea of ďhow much fun this will be! You really must come!Ē

None of it worked. The good news? Since he didnít accept my bribes, we didnít set a bad precedent. Plus, while I was sad to miss out on a day of powdery family fun, there have been many other powder days together since this one.

2) Whatís Wrong? Once you accept that your child doesnít want to go skiing, whether itís just a one-time thing, or a lasting desire to avoid snowsports, it can be helpful to understand where the reluctance is coming from.

Did you child have a bad experience with you or in a lesson? Was he scared? Did she get too cold? Are his clothing or boots uncomfortable? Does she not like being away from you? Did he get too tired? Are your expectations putting too much pressure on your child?

While you may never get the full answer, especially with younger children, you may also discover something that you can fix.

Here are some possible scenarios and some suggested solutions.

Family Time. Sometimes kids just want to spend time playing on snow with mom and dad!

Pick a morning or afternoon to ski on the bunny slope together. Donít have an agenda. This day is all about your child. Let your child set the pace, both for each run and for how long he or she wants to stay outside. Donít push your child to try anything or do anything.

Your focus is to help your child feel comfortable on snow and enjoy this special family time.

Friend Time. One of our sons is highly social. Even as a four-year-old he responded positively to time spent with friends. While he often didnít want to ski just with me, if we brought another room and her son along, the boys had much more fun.

At itís best, skiing with friends inspires children to try new things. At itís worst, one child can end up feeling like he or she canít do what the other child is doing.

Avoid this situation and choose ski buddies with similar skills.

Lesson Time. If your child is reluctant about lessons, find out what is bothering her. Is it the time away from parents and family? Is it a fear of the unknown? Is it being in a large group with other kids or being in a private lesson just with an instructor? Is it the entire concept of a ďlessonĒ?

Depending upon what is causing your childís reluctance, you can try some of these strategies.

For kids who donít like being away from their parents, a family lesson can work wonders. First, your child may have more comfort knowing you are right there. Beyond that, parents can learn a lot about their childís skills and how to help their children progress. Remember to keep the lesson focused on your child and resist the urge to coach your child during the lesson. You want your child to pay attention to the pro, not to you.

While most kids enjoy group lessons, some do not. A few seasons ago, a mom wrote to me because her son would not go to his group lessons. They decided to try a private lesson and itís worked wonders. Suddenly her son was confident and happy about skiing.

Get oriented prior to a lesson. Watch YouTube Learn-to-Ski videos together. Look at the resort website map and show your child where she will be and where you will be during lesson time. Emphasize that although the experience is called a lesson, itís actually all about having fun. There are no tests and no homework to be turned in.

Nap Time. Tired skiers are not skiers. Theyíre nappers. Likewise, cold skiers are not skiers, theyíre miserable. Sick skiers are not skiers. They should be home in bed. Uncomfortable skiers are not skiers. Like cold skiers, theyíre miserable.

Check your familyís gear and clothing for proper fit and warmth. Provide snacks and take time for water or hot chocolate breaks during the day.

Family skiing is all about fun. Donít turn it into an endurance contest.

In Their Own Time and On Their Own Terms. We have friends who enjoyed skiing with their two young children for several years. And then, when their daughter was about 13, she would not go skiing. They tried snowboard lessons. She still wouldnít go. They tried taking her friends with them. That didnít work either. After much frustration, they discovered that she suffered altitude sickness. This took all of the enjoyment out of skiing.

Although they acted to alleviate her symptoms (staying hydrated, acclimating over several days, and so on), she still didnít want to ski.

Then one day, she was ready and came back to skiing on her own.

When she was ready, she was ready.

So patience, dear parents, have patience. Make snowsports as fun as you can. Be prepared to accept that your children may not love skiing like you do. And remember that your children will grow and change as they get older.

Good luck!

Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.thebraveskimom.com

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