Hockey Fail

I thought toddler skating would be so much fun for Little MPB. He absolutely loves all things hockey. He plays with hockey sticks all the time. His favourite books are all about hockey. So, teaching him to skate just seemed like a natural fit.

Oh, how wrong we were!!

We went to his first skating lesson. We signed him in and went to the locker room. We put on his little skates. He stood up and instantly started walking around (with a little bit of help). He was so happy.

But then, his helmet went on. And, all bets were off.

He completely and utterly freaked out. As in, inconsolable epic melt-down.

We tried taking him towards the ice, hoping it would distract him enough to get him to refocus his attention on actually skating. It did not work.

We tried walking him up and down the hallway. Nope, he was having none of it.

We tried carrying him up and down the hallway. Again, he was not calming down.

We even gave him space to feel all the emotions when he threw himself face first on the ground and threw a real full-blown temper-tantrum for all those around to watch.

Finally, we gave in and took off his helmet. He calmed down slightly, but was still upset.

We calmly explained to him that the helmet was a requirement of going skating. He refused to let us put the helmet back on.

We took off his skates and went home. Needless to say, we are already unsure of next week’s lesson. Any tips for how to get a kid to wear a helmet?

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16 Comments on “Hockey Fail

  1. bribes and chocolate helps.. at least Little MPB only refuses a helmet. I have a battle each morning we leave to put on the bloody hat!

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  2. What about having him practice wearing it at home without any other gear? Or you and Mr. MPB wear helmets around and he can see you two doing it. Then maybe he will want to wear it? No real experience, just ideas! Good luck.

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  3. Does it matter what the helmet looks like? When we had a two-year-old and I got her a bike helmet, she was really excited to put it on because it was black with bright neon flowers. It was actually hard to get her to take it off. Also, I’m not sure how claustrophobic hockey helmets are, not maybe start with something a little more open like a bike helmet just to get him used to it? Not actually on the ice, but before the next practice.

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  4. Heh… solidarity. This is what prevented S from joining in the “skating” party (no skates, most kids just wear shoes) that his daycare throws every year — he refused to wear the helmet!

    He’s actually usually pretty good about the helmet, because his grandparents got him a scooter this fall and we laid down the law from day 1 that there is no playing with the scooter unless he wears his helmet. He wanted so badly to get his little hands on that scooter that he was willing to put up with the helmet to do it, and we’ve just stuck like crazy to that rule. But he was already looking a little skeptical about the ice, so the motivation just wasn’t there to get the helmet on for the skating party. If Little MPB loves the skates, could you try to communicate to him that it’s a rule that you can’t wear skates unless you put on the helmet first? I know it might be harder now that you’ve let him wear skates without the helmet, but maybe he loves his skates enough that it will be worth it to him? Or try bribery, like someone above suggested? I’ve just been reading the Everyday Parenting Toolkit (a really great book by a psychologist who runs a family study center), and now I’m thinking a lot about shaping behaviors — you could start with giving tons of praise (or an M&M!) just for touching the helmet, then for just putting it on his head for a second, then work on longer times wearing the helmet, if the skates aren’t enough motivation on their own? Good luck! I hope he’s skating around with his little buddies in no time!

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      • I think so! I find it very positive (it’s pretty anti-punishment, for example), and have gotten some good ideas that fit with my parenting style. If you want the brief summary, it is this: If there’s a behavior your child has that you don’t like or want to change, figure out the “positive opposite” — i.e., what *do* you want them to do? — and praise/reward them for doing it. There are lots of thoughts about how to set up the right situation to help get the behavior you do want: setting up the situation, praising small approximations of the behavior until you build up the more complex behavior you want, and using praise and consequences strategically. It’s really an applied psychology book rather than a parenting philosophy book, but I find that parenting a toddler is a lot about trying to do everything you can to help shape them into a functional human being. This book has a lot of gentle and effective techniques for helping to encourage behavior you want and discourage behavior you don’t want (mostly by rewarding the former and often but not always ignoring the latter).

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      • Thank you! I reserved it for pick up at our library. I’m also reading HAppiest Toddler on the Block. These toddler years are so fun but so challenging.

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  5. Thankfully we didn’t have a problem with the bike helmet, so I don’t have any tips for that. But Avery decided she hated swimming lessons when they resumed this year – the first lesson back in the pool was a scream fest for almost the entire half hour. But we went back the next weekend and went in the pool with confidence, and she was totally fine. So MAYBE little MPB will just magically decide to be cool with it next time. Kids emotions and opinions are all over the place! Good luck next time. I totally know how frustrating, nerve-wracking, and disappointing that kind of reaction can be.

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  6. Oh no! I envision Luke doing the same thing. It makes sense he wouldn’t want to wear the helmet. We can’t even keep a hat on Luke. I hope he comes around with time and more exposure.

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  7. Try leaving the helmet on the ground and let him interact with it on his own terms. You could also try stickers – that’s how we first got M to approach his potty.

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  8. Ohhh nooooo. I don’t know about helmets per se but with hat wearing turning it into a game if you guys have helmets at home will help. Make a little obstacle course that includes putting the helmet on for part of it, then ‘time’ him or race with him so having an adult helmet too be part of it!

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  9. Does Little MPB wear a bike helmet at all? If he isn’t used to wearing a helmet for other things, then it’s a bit of a process to get him used to wearing the hockey helmet. We take my son out on our ATV regularly and he knows he has to wear a helmet now. But in order to get him comfortable with wearing it, we started putting it on while around the house. We left it out in plain view during the day and would occasionally encourage him to try it on. We would walk around the house wearing our own. It was quite the sight to see. Eventually we made the rule that if he wanted to ride his bike or go on the ATV, he had to wear a helmet. It took some time and perseverance, but it worked. There were days where he would stand in our driveway screaming, crying and holding onto his bike, but still refusing to wear the helmet. And we wouldn’t let him get on it without the helmet. If he tried to climb on, we took him back off and would repeat “If you want to ride your bike, you wear your helmet.” Our neighbours probably loved us. You could try this trick as clearly Little MPB likes wearing his skates and gets excited about them. So if he wants to put them on, you can tell him that skates mean helmet. It is less effective if the skates are already on, but could work if he’s really wanting to wear them. He’s at an age of negotiating, so with some pushing, you should be able to convince him. Also, try putting hockey on TV and point out the players wearing their helmets. In the books he reads point out the helmets. Unless it’s “The Hockey Sweater” book, because nobody wears helmets in that book lol. My son has clearly pointed that one out to me. If he has a favourite stuffed animal, you could even get him putting the helmet on the stuffy for fun. Lots of techniques to try. Helmets are a bit of a foreign feel to these little ones because they are heavier and probably feel snug. But he will get there!

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