4 Year Old Giving up on Ice Skating

Updated on May 27, 2012
S.K. asks from Plano, TX
15 answers

Hey mamas,

So my son is 4. We started ice skating lessons a few months ago after we took him to a hockey game and he got super into it. He did awesome for a while but his interest has waned and now for the past couple weeks he completely refuses to go. I'm just looking for thoughts on the right way to handle this.

I do not want to pressure him, I do not want him to be over-scheduled, I do not care for him to join a professional hockey league when he's 12. I want him to experience the satisfaction of getting good at something and to have fun, which I know he would if he kept going! I want for him to continue learning of his own volition and be proud and self-motivated :) That's not too much to ask is it??? Just kidding, I know its not that simple.

To be clear - I'm not looking for ways to force him to continue, but at the same time I want to instill the importance of not giving up and the idea that you have to practice to get good at things, etc. Plus, we are paying for his lessons and I want him to at least begin to respect that and not be wasteful - all in an age-appropriate way!

So far I've just been trying to keep the encouragement casual so that it doesn't become a power struggle or something he knows he can use to get a rise out of us :)


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answers from Tampa on

If he has gone for a few months and he really doesn't like it, I would let him give it up assuming that you did not make a committment for a certain timeframe. We did that with soccer. We did one season and my kids really didn't seem to like it all that much. We finished the season and just didn't sign up again.

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answers from San Francisco on

Four is way too young to understand the concept of commitment or follow through. Let this be a lesson for YOU. In the future when he tries new things, don't pay for more than four or six weeks at a time.
Continue to expose him to a variety of activities and at some point (probably closer to age 8 or 9) he'll have a longer attention span and be ready to focus on learning, improving and most of all, having fun while he does it!

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answers from Kansas City on

without reading the other responses: i was you a couple of years ago :) my son was in a gymnastics class at age 3 and HATED IT. it was supposed to be "fun" - for whatever reason, my normally biddable, happy, eager-to-please, sweet fun loving child, would NOT participate. didn't want anything to do with it. it suuucked and we stuck it out for, i think, five or six sessions. i was on here asking "what do i do?" also - and i hated wasting that money - it STILL, two years later, is a bitter pill to swallow (that's how cheap i am with money lol). BUT it was the best decision, to take him out and not force it. the next year (when he was 4) he did soccer and LOVED it. so i lived and learned. either he was too young and/or he just hated gymnastics (which at that age is just really running around doing silly things - not like they expected him to do the pommel horse or anything). i will never know which it was. but at 4, your son is still young too. either he hates ice skating, for whatever reason, or he's just not ready. either way, try to come to terms with the fact that that money is gone. he will not fail or succeed in life based on this one decision you have to make right now. i would suggest dropping it and not making him feel bad about it. but i would also suggest, trying something else next year or whenever you're ready. there is plenty of time to instill all the good lessons he can learn from this stuff. at 4 he's just so little still.

remember - your child is not giving you a hard time, your child is having a hard time. hang in there.

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answers from Washington DC on

How much longer is left in the lesson session? "A few months" IS a long time for a 4 year old to stay interested in trying a new activity. I would tell him he needs to finish out the session that you're already in and then take a break or try something new.

As for refusing to go, I would insist that he GO to the lesson. Whether or not he participated is up to him, but he's part of a class and needs to attend. His choices are, go and watch your friends or go and skate. At a certain point it isn't about skating, it's about letting the adults be in charge and not letting 4 year olds control the agenda.

Hope this helps,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think 4 is way too young to understand the finances of lessons paid for by parents. It's very young to continue with a passion too. Let him find something else to be motivated at -- kids at this age change focus a lot, and that's good. Let him find the joy in experimenting with different activities - that's the way to foster self-motivation. That doesn't mean to sign up him for a lot of structured (and expensive) activities. Let him fool around, perhaps put him in a small summer recreation program where he can try different things and enjoy them. If you think about preschool and kindergarten, they are set up with different activities every 30 minutes or so. That's really all you can hope for at this age. Even 8 year olds have trouble being signed up for long-term sessions.

I'm glad you aren't trying to over schedule him - that is a huge problem in this era and it actually inhibits creativity. Let your child be a child and learn to experiment with different sports, arts, books, and free play.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

He is 4. If he doesn't want to do it, why make him?

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answers from Norfolk on

I didn't sign our son up for anything until he was at least 6.
4 was for playgrounds, county fairs, fire station open houses and petting zoos.
Don't worry, he's going to have fun.
He's got a lot of time to get good at something (and it could be anything, only one of which is skating).
It doesn't have to be right now.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Once he started lessons and it became routine and mandatory it stopped being fun. He is too young to use this as a teachable thing. All he knows is it is not fun anymore. My advice is to let him drop it. Stay away from the rink a while and then go back as a family to just skate. Let him master it this way instead of lessons. When he gets a bit older you can reconsider the lessons. Or just sign him up for hockey. Around here it starts at 4. Many neighboorhood kids have done this and none of them started out with skating lessons. The hockey trains you to skate while you play and the big pads that they wear help them to become a little more fearless.

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answers from Dallas on

Well, why is he going? If you signed him up to teach him a lesson in commitment you keep him goIng. If you signed him up to try putt something he might like, let him stop before he learns to hate it. At four you - and he- are stilldiscoveri g who he is and what he loves. At four he *might* find something he loves enough to stick with for years to come. But more likely he will go through many interests on his road to self discovery, and from how you speak of him I would guess you would want to let him try as man y new experiences as time and money might allow. What else might he be missing while you and he are misreably fighting your way through another ice skating lesson? He's just four- you still have time to teachc ommit ent lessons down the road (and as someone else mentioned, he's not developmentally ready for that lesson anyway).

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answers from Washington DC on

While I understand those who say "It's a commitment, make him stick it out," I think four is too young to grasp that lesson. You will NOT be ruining his ability to commit to anything, ever, if you pull him from these lessons now.

How many weeks or months of lessons did you sign him up for? At his age, anything more than a few weeks is just too much. You say he's been doing it for several months already and the lessons are continuing. That's too long from the start. He's burned out and making him keep going will only create a constant battle between you. If you want to sign him up for things in the future, be certain any classes or lessons are (1) no more than a few weeks, maybe four to six week sessions and (2) are mommy-and-me or daddy-and-me classes. He is young yet to be listening to a coach etc.

As B. posted, you have plenty of time for lessons and classes. Four is for getting out and exploring.

Ice skating is also pretty exhausing even for older kids; I can only imagine how it feels for a child this young.

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answers from Honolulu on

Let him do something that he wants to do.
Even if that is nothing, and just being a kid.

He is so young. He is so young. He will not grasp, like a Teenager or like an adult, the ramifications of "giving up" or sticking with it, or that money is being paid for it.
"Respect" is still being developed too. It is not a thing that is instantly grasped.

Kids this age, do NOT have fully developed deductive or inductive reasoning.

The "expectations" you may have of him, is better for a much older... child.

I know a kid, that takes Karate with my 9 year old daughter. This girl is about 7 now. And quite frankly, she does not like it. She's been taking it for 2 years since she was 5 years old. And honestly, she stinks at it and though she tries (for her parents), one can clearly see... that she is not into it. At all. She is just doing it for her parents sake. And they will not let her quit. Meanwhile, because she is not adept at it, she does not get higher ranking belt colors nor does she pass, the competency tests. Ultimately, she does not like this activity or lessons. But her parents get frustrated, because she does not like it and she is not good at it. They keep telling her "listen! Pay attention! Try harder..." to her from the sidelines. It is real sad, to see this play out. Many of the other parents just KNOW, this girl is not into it at all. But has to do it. Because her parents think they are teaching her a lesson about not giving up. Well her heart is just not into it. Even the Karate instructors tell the parents that.
The girl is doing it only for her parents. Not for herself at all. And ultimately, a child should do what their heart, is in.
THAT... is how they learn... about respect/perseverance/dedication and all the mature stuff. In time.
Their HEART needs to be in it.
And it should be fun for them.

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answers from St. Louis on

He is four! I didn't even bother with sports that young because they just don't have the attention span for it. Just let it go and probably next year he will want to do it again. I mean come on, you are asking him at the age of four to do a seasonal sport year round.

My older daughter ended up a wicked good soccer goalie. She didn't start year round until she was eight, ya know?

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Tell him he made a commitment and he has to go. Then just take him and drop him off. He will enjoy it once he gets there and gets on the ice. Any instructor will tell you that every kid does this if they think mom or dad will let them off the hook. Every kid that has dance, soccer, softball, ice skating, every sport or activity will want to take the day off and if they can talk mom or dad into it they won't go. Once they get there they participate and have fun.

My friend has a daughter that had been in dance since she was 4. They are going through a divorce and dad keeps telling the daughter she does not have to go if she doesn't want to. Mom has a doc's note that says they daughter's foot/ankle is weak and the foot turns in. The stretches help her foot to be strong enough to keep her foot straighter and will eventually get strong enough to stay straight.

So she needs to go every week. The girl came from dads house one day and flat out refused to go to the dance room. Mom took her by the hand and nearly dragged her to class. She stood there while the girl put her ballet shoes on and went over to the class. The teacher said as soon as mom was out of sight the daughter stood up and went through her warm ups and then fully participated in class the whole time.

She has come in each time since then and went straight to class happy and laughing.

All she needed was the line drawn and a parent to stand there and say "This is it, you are going to class" then take them. If he does not want to take it again next time then don't enroll him next lesson session.

At 4 years of age he does need this to be fun. I would make sure to get some other influences to renew the fun part of the class for him. Get out some hockey movies, go to another rink and watch something, if there is one functioning anywhere. Remind him of that joy and interest.



answers from Philadelphia on

If you signed up for a certain amount of time I would stick it out till the end and then just not resign up for the next level or whatever. If there's no commitment money-wise its probably better to just say "hey, it seems like you're not interested anymore so we will take a break but if you want to try again in the future we can". I think it's good to let kids try out and explore their interests and not tie them to one thing at this age. Maybe try floor hockey so he can learn about hockey and then work on skating when he gets older if he's stil interested.



answers from Detroit on

Try rollerblades. Get him some rollerblades along with the pads and helmet to go with it. Have him rollerblade around the house until he gets comfortable with it. My son is 6 and has been ice skating since he was 3 years old. He is now on a hockey team. My son is suppose to take more ice skating classes to improve his ice skating skills for hockey, but he hates the ice skating classes, so....it was suggested by his hockey coach, to get some rollerblades and head out to the roller rink. This has helped him learn to skate better as well as build up muscles to increase skate speed on the ice. The rink where we go also has races and contests, so my son competes for prizes. It's fun and helps with ice skating.

Hope this helps your son:)

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