It seems so cynical to call it bribery. But the truth is, when dealing with the black and white world of toddlerhood and learning to ski, a parent would be well-served to bring along a stash of goodies to “encourage” kiddo’s enthusiasm and help bridge the gap between bliss and melt down.
I spent last winter interviewing parents, ski instructors, and kids themselves to figure out how to teach your kids without an instructor. Everyone had tip.They also shared a disclaimer: no matter how awesome a skier the parents are, every now and again it’s worth it to spring for an instructor because junior may actually work harder for a stranger than for mom and pop. You might also save your sanity! Read on for ideas on what to bring skiing with a toddler and how to stoke enthusiasm.
1. Make. It. Fun.
This could also be known as bribery. While the limits varied, every parent I talked with said they went to great lengths to make those initial moments on snow completely awesome. This included new goggles, a new helmet, a special new jacket (are you seeing a theme here?). Snickers in the pocket go a long way, as do M&Ms doled out at strategic moments.
2. Keep it exciting
Sure, hit the magic carpet until kiddo has a sense of balance, a firm ability to get up after a fall, and a method of stopping. But don’t stay in the shallow end too long or else boredom sets in. Scout the mountain for easy runs with great views and don’t be afraid of taking a ride on the lift.
3. Enlist the lifties’ help
Getting on and off the chairlift for the first time can be terrifying. Ask the lifties to slow the chair when you get on and off, definitely lower the bar, and keep a snug hold on kiddo—you’ll both feel better for it.
4. Actual skills
If you’re lucky, you have no memory of learning to ski—you just know you love the sport. Nonetheless, try to remember how unnatural it feels to carve turns with long planks bound to your feet. First teach your kids to wedge. The age-old pizza slice image has worked for instructors forever. Use it (remembering when they upgrade to parallel turns to bring in the “French fries.” Important tips to pass onto the kids: look where you want to go; point your hands downhill; keep up your momentum.
5. Keep ‘em wanting more
Most parents had a story of a parking lot meltdown—because the kids wanted to keep skiing! This is a good thing. I’m not saying you rip them off the hill at the apex of fun. But quit before they’re tired and promise them more days on snow. This builds anticipation, one of the foundations for love.
Keystone & Arapahoe Basin both offer some great opportunities to encourage kids to learn to ski including free lift ticket signups and used equipment trade in programs. Now is the time to get them started, so don’t wait any longer. Book a weekend in Keystone and get your kids out on the mountain!