I offer you some little bits of wisdom and advice from my many years of experience that should ease the skiing experience for both you and your child.
1. Start talking about skiing in a positive manner long before the actual event. Build up the excitement and prepare them for sliding around on snow by taking them tubing or pulling them on a sled. Make them think it is going to be the greatest thing ever and build up their confidence. We let our boys walk around the house in their boots and jump on the trampoline with their skis on. You don't want the first time they squeeze into a pair of uncomfortable boots to be that first day on the hill.
2. Don't force the issue if your child does not want to ski right off the bat. There is always another day. Hire a sitter or enroll him in an adventure or day care program at your local resort. Keep in mind that a small child sees those big funny sticks on their feet only as a hindrance that disables them from walking; especially, if they just grasped the concept of their two feet being independent.
3. Cough up the money and pay for a few lessons. Your sanity will thank you and your child will be that much further along when you take her out on the slopes. Children will usually learn quicker and have more fun with the competition of a peer group. Also, Mom and Dad are not there being overbearing or criticizing every move.
4. Please make sure your child is well suited to be out in cold temperatures. Their small bodies lose heat quicker than yours and need to be well insulated and protected. Waterproof layers are a good idea (and a backpack for you) as they will be tugging clothes and gear off and on all day. You will become a skiing closet.
5. Helmets are necessary equipment. Helmets are not something you buy for your child to grow into. Make sure it fits properly and don't forget the goggles. Make sure you rent good equipment if you are not ready to drop the cash on your growing child for skis and boots. Your child will be at a huge disadvantage if you set them up on the same skis you learned on back in "the day." The new technology and width of modern skis make the learning curve much faster than old-school gear. Don't forget the sunscreen.
6. Don't be afraid to stop and build a snowman or make snow angels if your child starts to break down or become tired. You may be surprised how good a little frolic in the snow can be for the soul. Just make sure you stop in a safe place and are aware of your surroundings.
7. Scan the Web for learning games and ideas and keep an eye on instructors as they teach. There is a wealth of information out there to help you instruct your child and have fun doing it. Kids don't realize they are "learning" when they are playing "Red Light, Green Light" or making airplane turns with lots of funny noises. Learn to be a kid yourself. Enjoy the time you are spending with your child.
8. Make sure you know the mountain well so you don't take your advancing little skiers somewhere beyond their capabilities. Don't assume that because they can carve on a black groomer at one ski area that they are ready to charge a truly advanced run at another.
Putting a child in an uncomfortable and even dangerous situation could be the end of a lifetime of fun. It takes one bad experience to make skiing equal "no fun" in their heads, besides the fact that you could be charging up unnecessary doctor's bills. Your family members should decide on a meeting spot in case anyone gets lost or left behind. The bottom terminal of a central chairlift is a good bet. Make sure your child knows that if he needs help it is okay to talk to someone in a uniform. Point them out so they know who to look for. Pin your cell phone number to an inside pocket in case he gets lost.
9. Most importantly, and I can't say this enough--make sure you are having fun. It is time to quit as soon as teaching becomes a chore or your child is losing interest or not listening. She knows when you are getting cranky and things will just go south from there.
10. Let the ski school take over if you are not an advanced skier with good technical skills and cannot confidently ski backwards, or are uncomfortable skiing with a child between your legs. That is what they are there for. The smiles on your tike's face will be well worth it and so will your sanity and their safety.
Skiing is one sport that families can enjoy for a lifetime and the memories that you create will be some of the most cherished by your children. Chances are they will carry on the tradition with their own kids so, get out there, enjoy the unparalleled scenery, fresh air and adventure.