Seeking Advice on My 3 Year Old Son

Updated on December 11, 2010
R.R. asks from Providence, RI
19 answers

Looking for advice for my 3 year old son. I live up north and it gets cold! I dread leaving my house to do anything cause he gives me such a hard time when it comes to wearing his jacket. He screams, throws himself on the ground... I get so upset. I try to find babysitters just to go to the store. I find myself never getting out during the day because it's such a hassel. I tried doing sweat shirts, zip ups, hoodies nothing will work. Will this end soon??

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all the advice. I know i'm the mom and I need to show him who is boss! lol I do that lots of times or I let him go out with no coat and let him feel the cold. I get tired of it cause it's EVERYday, I will def. try to take him to a store and let him pick one out. I haven't tried that yet! Thanks to all :)

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answers from Phoenix on

If it is that big of a problem, is it really dangerous for him to not wear a jacket for the few minutes he would be outside? Get a blanket or something for in the car. Then he would be cold for a few minutes from the house to the car, and then the car into the building. This would not work for doing activities outside, but it would at least allow you to go to the store!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Let him make the decision to go without a coat to play in the yard. He will be cold and will want his jacket. Give him the independence to make the choice. Right now it is a power struggle and a means of controlling you. No one wants to be in the cold if they know they can make a choice to be warmer.

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answers from Detroit on

Give him limited choices regarding coats, hats, etc. But he is still flipping out and refusing to cooperate, say ok, fine. Put him in the car without any of it. Let him go outside without the extra layers and realize how cold he is after a while. Just bring the stuff with you when he changes his mind. He won't die. When he says something about being cold, rather than I told you so, just act empathetic and say, "Yeah, I bet you are cold! I would be cold too if I didn't wear my hat and coat! I'm really glad I am wearing them and staying warm!" Hopefully he will catch on and decide he wants his coat too.

The book "Parenting with Love and Logic" is great and actually uses this exact same scenario as an example on how to allow natural consequences for the poor choices kids sometimes make.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

When my DS does not want to put on a jacket I have him take his blanket into the car. He likes that idea much better. However, when we get to where we are going I'll give him a choice to wear it or not. if he says no, I'll carry it for him or he will carry it. 9 times out of 10 he gets cold and wants to put it on. Especially when we are in the frozen aisle at the store =-)

Pick your battles. This is not worth fighting over. Plus you'll save money on not getting a babysitter.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I would not avoid going out, I would give him a choice, wear it, or take it with him, he won't be injured by the cold, unless you have a frost bite warning, and it will not take him long to decide to put it on. He is fine in the car without one, and he is fine in the grocery store without one. Just carry it until he is cold. It reallly is not that big a deal unless you make it a battle, and that teaches him that throwing a fit to get his way is working. End it yourself, and let him decided if he wants to put it on later, he will.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Sorry, but I really believe you just need to stop giving in to him. Wearing a coat in December is one of those things you can't let them choose. There is no choice.

You can ask which coat he wants to wear (if you have two)? You can ask him if he wants to put it on or if you should do it for him? You can tell him if he wears his coat and doesn't fight you, you will let him pick out a toy to bring in the car. And you can tell him that if he doesn't put on his coat, he is not allowed ot go out and will go sit in timeout/his room/whatever. Personally, if none of this worked, I woudl hold my daughter down and duct tape her into it :)

Is he normally a cooperative kid and comfortable with wearing clothes, shoes etc? I know some kids are very senstive to being touched and if it is a bigger issue, you need ot see your pediatrician aboiut it. But the way you have framed it, ir sounds liek a compelte discipline issue. Just make him wear the coat. And when you are thrusting it on him, say calmly "We wear coats to stay warm."

It is ridiculous to be held hostage by a three-year old over this issue.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

If you can afford to do so...take him out to the store and let him pick out a special coat and or hat. Coats are so uncomfortable for kids. Our 2 year old daughter is very opinionated about what she wears. When I want her to wear something nice like different shoes or a shirt I tell her that these are like her favorite aunts or cousins. She has a pair of ugg like boots she would never wear but when she found out they were like her Aunt Tee Tee's she wears them all the time.

Today she is wearing her red Christmas shoes because she thinks they are like her cousins (her cousin is 17 and doesn't have a pair of red shoes...)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I'm sure it will but let me remind you: YOU are the parent and are allowing this behavior to happen. You certainly should not have to have a babysitter just to go to the store. Next time he throws the big jacket fit, put his little booty in time out or something. However you discipline. Nip this in the butt! LOL! Good luck R..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

All good advice.
And, one touched just slightly on what occurred to me as I read your post.
Some clothes are uncomfortable to little bodies.
Some clothes are VERY uncomfortable to little bodies.
I'm guessing that this may be the case in your son's situation.
Something about this particular jacket is uncomfortable for him.
Maybe the lining in the sleeves is itchy.
Maybe the collar is too snug.
Yes. You are the parent.
However, perhaps a different coat . . .
maybe a PARKA or puffy ski-type vest?
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Burlington on

I am a parent of a three year old and a teacher. My advice would be, to work through the tantrum and put his coat on and do what you need to do. If you're going outside to play, he will eventually realize it's fun. If you are going to the store, he might also think it's fun, but more importantly, he will learn that throwing a tantrum will not get him out of things. That is a dangerous habit to start now! I can assure you that more work at this age, will equal less work when he's older.

Good Luck!



answers from New York on

He doesn't like wearing a coat, but he has to. If he wants to leave the house (for any reason) he must wear a coat. No need for a discussion with him here.

He's winning this battle and you're setting yourself up for a very long war. Put it on him, zip it up and carry him to the car. If he throws a fit- oh well. If he throws himself on the floor... wait him out.

My son used to pull this with his baseball hat outside. The rule in our house is that you must have a hat on to be outside. Period. The first time he threw it on the floor, I picked it up and put it back on his head. I picked him up ands told him that wearing a hat was not a choice. If he wanted to play outside, he needed to put it on. He threw it- we went inside. It's never been an issue since.

It won't end until you end it. Be the mom and know that it's okay for him to tantrum and get angry.


answers from Boston on

You could consider putting him in the car without it. He'll be very cold in about 2 minutes. You'd have to be willing to stop the car and then put the jacket on, but you're hassled as it is so it wouldn't be much more.

Don't let anyone tell you that kids get sick from being cold. They don't. Short of frostbite after a few hours in the elements, there's no harm in a brief period of cold! They get sick from being indoors all the time with germs that flourish in the dry heat!!

Anyway, if you take the fight out of the situation, and then calmly tell him "Gee, I'm nice and warm because I'm wearing my jacket." He'll say he's cold, and you say, "How sad for you. I'M nice and warm because I'M wearing my nice warm jacket. I LOVE my warm jacket." Just be repetitive and it will work. Don't yell over his screaming - just wait until he calms down or takes a breath. (This is a trick I learned from a teacher who dealt with kids who didn't want to wear their gloves at recess. They were too cold to play so they had to stand around with their hands in their pockets. They got real tired of it, and after 2 days of not playing, they wore their mittens! (She did not let them go back in the building for mittens - she couldn't even if she wanted to because she had to be watching the other kids. They kept their hands in their pockets or pulled up in their sleeves.)

Your son is being stubborn and that's normal for a 3 year old. You are letting it get you all upset and affect your life - that means he's running the show and I know you don't want that. It's a battle of wills and you are the parent. You can't out-scream him, but you can outlast him!


answers from Topeka on

He would just have to throw a fit. He will get over it.



answers from Boston on

I agree with several people who assured you that the boy won't be seriously harmed by a short chill. Taking his coat or a blanket with you in the car is an excellent idea - and then don't mention it until he says he's cold!

After all, the real aim here is to have a kid who understands when he needs warmer things on, and who will develop the initiative to get them or ask for them when he does need them. That will save you a lot of bother in the long run.

I resolved, very early, that I wasn't going to nag my daughter about whether she was wearing a sweater. After all, she's the one who knows whether she feels cold. The fact that I might feel cold myself is beside the point - everybody's metabolism is different, and kids are often so active that they stay warmer than adults. (And eventually, very old adults need warmer clothes on than middle-aged ones.) I found that my daughter was perfectly comfortable wearing a lot less than I wanted to wear myself. I didn't make an issue of it, and there was no problem.



answers from Burlington on

Either force him to wear the clothes and make sure you have extra time and patience, or pick a day that is cold, but not dangerously, and play with him outside...I'll bet he'll want to put something on to make snowballs, go sledding etc.



answers from Minneapolis on

We live in MN. If the weather is a real health hazard with cold, then the two options are 1) wear a coat and come or 2) stay home. There's no argument then, it's a choice. If he must wear a coat and I must go out with him, then I expect him to have big feelings and live with it. This is the exception though.

If the weather is cold, but not frost bite threatening, then I will let him go how he wants and have a coat along for him when he chooses to wear it. Most of the time we are going about 15 steps from car to building, so it's really no harm done.

When he was younger, I would just bundle him up in a blanket and call it a day. The blanket provided the protection and with him, both the blanket or the coat would be off as soon as we went into the store (or wherever) anyway.



answers from Boston on

I'm curious if you ever take him to play outside, or to the park. Is it possible that he's making the connection between putting the coat on and going to a stuffy boring store? Maybe he would be more motivated to cooperate if he knew he would get to play outside once the errands were over.



answers from Chicago on

Did he get to pick his jacket out? I would start by getting him prepared that you are leaving and he will need to get dressed up to be warm. Let him be a part of the process in getting bundled up. Not to encourage spending money but is the jacket/hoodie etc...something he picked out himself to wear? Is it too constricting or tight? Let him see you get ready to go outside and has he told you why it bothers him?



answers from Portland on

My almost 4 year old does the same thing. For a while I tried the debating thing but it became too stressful and time consuming. She has no problem putting on a warm shirt or a sweatshirt so I make it a part of her every day outfit. I offer the jacket when we go out but if she puts up a figth I forget the battle and out the door we go with at least a sweatshirt on. 9 times out of 10 she is crying that she's cold and wants the jacket that I have brought along "just incase" within 10 minutes or so.
One more thing to add. He should not be wearing a heavy winter coat in his carseat anyway. Too much bulk makes a carseat dangerous So what we do is buckle in and then put the jacket on backwards kind of like a blanket and this way as the car warms up she can take the jacket off if she gets too hot.
Good luck to you!

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