It's only natural for skiing parents to want their progeny to love the sport as much as they do. But there's plenty we adults can do to derail fantasies of schusshing down the slopes in harmony with our mini-mes. To avoid that fate, follow some basic steps to ensure your littlest shredders will enjoy skiing into adulthood-or at least through the early learning stages.
1. Keep them warm.
Few things are more miserable for parents on the slopes than dealing with a child who's cold after the first couple of runs. Translation? Don't wing it with your kids' clothing. Make sure they have a comfortable, warm base layer, preferably one they've tried on and approve. Same goes for the socks, which should fit well so they don't bunch up in ski/board boots. (Anything to avoid potential whining!)
If you're not willing to invest in an official ski jacket, their daily winter coat will work just fine in the meantime. But do not, I repeat, do NOT skimp on a solid pair of ski gloves or mittens, which are critical to your kids' enjoyment on the slopes. Bonus if you include glove liners and hand warmers, which can make all the difference between a good and miserable day of skiing.
Pro tip: Lots of second-hand sports and consignment stores offer scores of used ski gear, which you can purchase at decent prices.
2. Make sure gear fits.
Ill-fitting, non-functioning gear is the perfect way for any child to talk himself out of trying to ski. In other words, don't borrow boots, poles or skis from friends; take the time to allow a professional to fit your kid for proper sizes and styles. Whether it's a weeklong or season rental, it's worth the time it takes to ensure your child's skis, boots and poles are the right size for his or her body.
3. Don't dismiss ski school.
I often see parents skiing pizza-style as they maneuver behind their child with the aid of learning harnesses and think to myself, "I'm so glad that's not me!" To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with parents teaching a child to ski, with or without the aid of a harness. But if your kids are anything like my boys, they don't want to hear Mom's or Dad's tips on learning or improving technique; they prefer the age-old technique of defiance.
It's often worth it to leave it to professional ski or ride instructors, who are accustomed to handling even the most recalcitrant rookie skiers.
4. Pack enough snacks and water.
Every parent knows that kids are often hungry at the most inopportune times, and it practically guarantees it will stop them literally in their tracks midway through a ski run. To minimize hunger cravings, stockpile snacks in your own pack or your kids' pockets, whether it's a soft protein bar, an almond-butter packet or string cheese. Energy chews and fruits or nuts are also a good, quick energy option for ravenous skiers.
5. Keep the right attitude.
Take heart, parents. We all feel like we're failing our kids at some point, and the learning curve on the slopes can be steep for parents and kids alike. Give yourself and your kids a break now and then, accepting without question your offspring will test you as they learn to ski. (See bullet-point 3.) And remember: There's always next ski season.