Encourage your kids to participate in winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snow-shoeing, and figure out how to manage the demands of these winter sports.
Wet clothes and cumbersome equipment might make winter play intimidating, but getting your kids active in the snow is worth it.
Winter can be a dreary time of year, promoting indoor, sedentary activity. This is the main reason that kids and adults tend to gain weight during these months.
Winter is also sometimes associated with feelings of sadness or depression, which may be alleviated by sunlight and enough physical activity. Therefore, despite the challenges of cold, wet weather, winter is the perfect time to encourage your kids to try outdoor activities like ice-skating, skiing, snow-boarding, sledding, or snow-shoeing, to keep them active and energized through even the coldest days.
For many kids, traditional winter sports are very different from their usual activities, because winter sports tend to be slippery and cold. But, don’t let this be a deterrent. Instead, be prepared. Your child is more likely to enjoy herself if she has the correct clothing for the experience. For example, if you are going ice-skating for the first time, don’t underestimate the importance of gloves, warm socks, and a waterproof jacket and pants. These will keep your child comfortable even with many falls, which will help her to stick with the activity until she feels a sense of mastery.
Equipment is also important—because if it doesn’t fit well, your child will not have a successful experience. It can take multiple trips to the rental table in order to finally find the right fit, requiring a huge effort and lots of patience from you—I know this from many years of winter sports’ experiences with my three kids!
Like me, many parents find winter sports equipment to be cumbersome, complicated, and a bit intimidating. I am always exhausted by the time I finally get my kids dressed, equipped, and ready to go. But, in the end it is definitely worth it—the sense of accomplishment that comes with trying a new activity is a wonderful feeling for most children.
So, they’re bundled up and ready to go…but still reluctant? Since kids learn by example and feel more secure when they are not alone, one of the best ways to encourage your child to participate is to do the activity with them, or get an older sibling or babysitter to do so. If it really is too difficult to have someone else participating with your child, then be sure to stand and watch the entire time. Take pictures, call out encouraging words, point out every improvement, and downplay each mistake or fall. This is not the time to go inside for a cup of hot coffee. Stick it out with your child—it will be worth it!
Finally, in some cases, the best way to encourage your child to try a new activity is to hire a pro. Your child may feel more secure and ready to continue if a professional teaches him the best way to get up when you fall as well as the basic moves necessary to feel accomplished. This is particularly true with skiing and snowboarding—two sports that demand a certain level of technique mastery in order to feel any success. Most mountains offer group classes that are very reasonably priced and really get your child moving. The bonus to these classes is that you can go inside for your cup of coffee and to rest for a little while before having to take all that equipment off your child.
Dr. Susan Bartell is a Long Island-based, nationally recognized child psychologist, speaker, and award-winning author. Her latest book is “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask.” You can learn more about Dr. Bartell at drsusanbartell.com.
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