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10-22-2012, 01:12 AM
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tarheelhockey's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: The Triangle
Country: United States
Posts: 52,924
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I have a 2 year old who hasn't touched ice yet, and a 3 year old who is the next Crosby (in his mind ). Here are some scattered suggestions from my experiences with the older boy a year ago:

1) First of all, maybe most importantly, remember to think about this as if you were the toddler. What part of this process would you like the most? Probably not the actual skating part, right?

I figured out fast that my boy really wanted to LOOK and feel like a real hockey player out there. I bought him a little Canes jersey, a hockey helmet (yes, they do make them that small), shoulder pads, gloves, the whole shebang. Every trip to the rink was like Halloween. He got to put all the pads on one at a time, and got a load of attention from strangers. If there were players or coaches around, they'd notice him and talk to him... one gave him a puck, which was a permanent memory. And when he fell, it wasn't painful or even cold. Finding the small equipment was a little difficult and mildly expensive, but it guaranteed he had fun with every trip to the rink.

2) Keep the skates on at home, because that's where he develops the ankle strength to stand up without wobbles. This plays right back into the dress-up aspect of pretending to be a player while running around the living room.

3) Save your back -- bring or find a very small, orange cone for him to push around. Back pain from bending to hold a child's hand is serious business, and it doesn't help him center his balance anyway. Do what you need to do to make him want to push that cone!

4) When it comes to fear of the ice, take it literally one step at a time.

What worked for me was asking him if I could put him on the ice and hold his hands while we sang his favorite song, then pick him up again. The song was like 20 seconds long, so by the end of it the fear was gone. Gradually we worked up to 1 hand, then no hands. Took 2 sessions to get rid of the fear altogether.

5) Take advantage of free previews for skating lessons. Most programs will give you a free first lesson to see if the child likes it. That's a free opportunity to check out their approach and see if it's based around having a fun experience. I am a believer in lessons, but the quality and philosophy of teaching is very hit or miss.

6) When he's old enough to hold a stick, take him to a stick and puck session... he won't really learn anything, but you'll both have a blast!

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