Why Don’t Children Want to Dress Warm?

Updated on December 22, 2017
A.J. asks from Boston, MA
23 answers

It seems like every morning my daughter argues with me about the winter clothing she needs to wear to walk to school. This morning with the windchill it’s about 30F, so I told her she needed to wear her warm parka, snow pants, and boots. Her parka is a knee length Canada Goose, which is very thick and warm. She however wanted to just wear a thin jacket and no boots or snow pants. She also argued when I told her to wear gloves, a hat, a scarf, and her hood. Are there any ways to make the morning bundling process easier?

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K.C.

answers from Anchorage on

I live in Alaska and my 9 year old daughter didn't wear that much winter clothing today!

30 degrees isn't that cold. I don't blame her for not wanting to wear all that bulky stuff!

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

My son hates puffy down jackets. He only likes thinner ones. I suggest you get something made with thinsulate next time...so it's not so bulky. Also, have her pick out the one she likes...that makes a world of difference. Right now when its 25-30 in the morning my 13 year old son only wears a sherpa lined hoodie...no jacket. My 8 year old daughter wears a thin but warm winter jacket, ear warmers (or sometimes a hat), and gloves. They both just wear athletic shoes most days. If it's a snowy day my daughter likes wearing boots. Honestly, when one of my kids refuses to wear a coat or something warm, I let them....they can learn by being cold. It has worked. When it's really cold they don't argue anymore.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

sounds like a pretty mild day to be muffled in a puffy parka and snow pants.

i get how angsty it can be to worry about our kids freezing, but it's extremely unlikely that a stubborn child (even if it were actually cold enough to need your Arctic Gear) will die between home and school.

it's not that i didn't argue with my kids to dress more warmly sometimes. but if they dug in their heels, i let 'em wear what they wanted. if they froze, i trusted that i was raising basically sensible and logical human beings who would prefer not to experience that degree of discomfort again. it must have worked because by the time they were tweens they put on hats and gloves and warm coats when necessary without my chivvying them.

why not take her shopping for a good thinsulate coat that will keep her warm without making her feel like the Staypuft Marshmallow Kid?

and tell her that you trust her good sense (even if you're not quite there yet) and let her have a say. remember, we're building adults.

khairete
S.

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S.B.

answers from Houston on

I think you are overdoing on the dressing. 30F isn't that bad that she needs snow pants, a warm parka, hat, scar, and hood.

How old is she? My thought? Natural consequences. If she gets cold, she will wear warmer clothes. This is not a battle I would be willing to die in. Good luck.

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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

I live in Wisconsin, so I know winter gear and appropriate dress for the elements.

What you're suggesting she wear for 30F temperature is overdressing. She'd be uncomfortably hot and sweaty before she even got to school. She is probably arguing with you because in this case, she does know better than you about how she feels.

A warm coat is a good choice although a knee-length down parka is better for subzero temps. A shorter winter coat is more comfortable at 30F. The snowpants and scarf are overkill. Wearing boots if there is snow accumulation is practical. I'm also a fan of gloves because my hands are always chilly, but realistic to know if a kid doesn't want to wear them then they will come off when they leave the house.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

Gees, I am not in MA but a wind chill of 30, she does not "need" all that get up. I'm in TX and when we get the occasional brutal cold, we don't dress like that. Buildings are typically kept at a comfortable temperature and there would be no place to keep up with all of that stuff. Sounds like you are prepping her for a big ski down a mountain or walking through a blizzard and it is just in 30's.

I hate big bulky jackets, always have. You can dress where you are warm without all those extras. Try thin layers instead. Also, she may have a different body temp that you do and it not bother her with lighter jackets vs heavy duty down.

I am at the school a lot and that much outwear will not fit in the lockers.

Maybe she is embarrassed that she is being made to wear this with temps in 30's.

If you came on here and said you were in Alaska or somewhere with temps that are around 0 I might agree with heavy duty outerwear but this is not the case. This sounds like a power trip for you that you are determined to win.

Choose your battles. If she gets cold enough, she will choose the heavier jacket.
Cause = effect theory works here vs an ongoing argument.
Stop looking at it as a power play. Arguing does not help anyone.

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P.G.

answers from San Antonio on

Let her wear her jacket. If she gets cold, then she'll warm up at school and she'll plan better the next time. I've done this myself. My kid insisted he didn't need a coat. It was cold, but above freezing. I dropped him off at school, but he still had to walk about 1.5 blocks distance to the doors. He got chilly enough to wear a jacket like I suggested the next time - BUT I also know that I am cold when he isn't. His body and my body are NOT the same.

According to the weather, it's 40 degrees. It's a good bit above freezing, and it's not going down until tonight. The wind chill is cold, but unless she's walking through a blizzard, you're dressing her for a ski-vacation and she's only walking to school. That's jacket weather. She doesn't need a scarf, hat, gloves, boots, parka, and snow pants - this is major overkill.

Mama, you're being overprotective. I know, it's what we do, but this is not the hill to die on. You need to back off.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

Sorry but your expectations are unreasonable - if you're really in MA, it's fairly mild and pleasant out today - certainly no need to be bundled up from head to toe! There is no need for boots or snow pants in this weather. Come on, that's crazy! I commute in on the train and walk to work and have just my mid-thigh-length coat, whatever I'm wearing for bottoms (dress pants or a skirt or dress with tights), and sneakers. What you're talking about is appropriate for when it's snowing or windy and the temp with windchill gets down to single digits or below zero. You're about 30 degrees off in what you think she needs to wear. FWIW, my kids just went to school in shorts and sweat shirts.

Also...school buildings and buses can be very warm. My 6th grader is normally happy to wear pants, but this year has changed to shorts most days because his classroom is very hot. I was just there for conferences and he's right. He said that he'd rather be chilly for a few minutes getting on and off the bus than be uncomfortable warm all day.

If you make her take an excessive amount of cold weather gear with her to and from school, expect to lose a lot of it because she's going to take it off the second she's out of your sight.

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Snow pants? For 30 degrees? You’re kidding, right? I can hear the helicopter rotors from here!
Do not fight this battle.
Let her wear what she wants. She is walking. She will be fine. If she wants to wear shorts, let her. Natural consequences will determine if she does that again!
Let it go!

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

I think you are over dressing her for the weather. Kids usually don't feel as cold as we do. Let her dress how she wants to dress and if she's cold she'll put on more the next time. Everything doesn't need to be a battle. You might have better luck with buying a couple of thinner fleece jackets and having her layer them with a hoodie.

And am I the only one that's seeing Randy (the little boy in A Christmas Story) being dressed to go to school by his mom where he can't put his arms down because of all the clothes?

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

This seems kind of extreme, doesn't it?

Your climate must be similar to ours. Mine just wore their thin winter/fall jackets. (thinsulate)

Our kids don't wear down. We made that mistake years ago when I bought one on sale at LL Bean for my son. He came in from making a snowman and was covered in sweat.

Couple that with snow pants - are they bib style? That's a whole lot of warmth.

How old is she? You don't mention that. Older kids obviously are not into wearing snow pants so I'm guessing elementary age. When it's questionable, we stuff the snow pants in the backpack in case it snows and they go outside. After about grade 4, kids don't feel like wearing them I find - unless they are actually going to play in the snow and will get wet.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I stuff a hat and gloves into my kids' backpacks if they say they don't need them. That way I know they have them if they get cold at the bus stop. I do insist on the winter coat in the winter. But boots and snow pants for school? I think that's overkill. We never do that, even if it's really snowy or when the high (non-wind chill) is in the single digits.

ETA: Someone below had a great point about the lockers. The thinsulate ski jackets my kids wear barely fit - I don't think puffy parkas would even fit in the locker. No way snow pants would fit in the lockers. You may need to rethink your daughter's winter outerwear.

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

A.,

Welcome to mamapedia!

That's WWWAAAAAYYYY too much clothing to wear for WALKING. She'd overheat. And where do you expect her to store all of this stuff while she's in school? WEAR IT AT SCHOOL?? No. STOP. BACK OFF!!!

STOP pressing her. She will learn what makes HER comfortable and ABLE to walk.
Snow boots are HARD to walk in. I don't know how far she has to walk, but I can tell you that my kids (and we live in DC) don't wear snow boots unless they are PLAYING in the snow. They DO NOT walk around in them.

Hell, my 15 year old son wears SHORTS when it's snowing. No kidding. He's not the only one that does it. He doesn't do it to rebel or thumb his nose at me. When he wears snow pants? He gets so warm, he gets dizzy and wants to throw up. He knows when he is cold.

You don't say how old she is, but I can guarantee you that in Boston at 30 degrees? She's fine in a thin jacket and solid shoes.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I grew up in very cold winters (Iowa) and honestly did not bundle up at all. Jacket, gloves and boots were usually it, and I often walked to school. Colder days I had more layers underneath.
Why battle this? Let her experience natural consequences, that's how kids learn. If she's cold and miserable she'll bundle up more next time.

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T.D.

answers from Springfield on

natural consequences. my daughter decided she was not going to wear a coat. refused to put it on when told 3x to do so ( it had been in the 50's and overnight dropped to about 30) i opted not to battle her and watched her head off to school (from the car) in her hoodie sweatshirt. when i picked her up she was upset that she didn't have a coat. and has never fought me on my winter weather wear suggestions again.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

If the wind chill is 30F, the temperature must be higher than 30F. Is that the windchill in the morning as she's walking to school? If so, the temp will be even higher at recess and as she's walking home.

I'd have to agree with your daughter. She does not need to be wearing all that. A warm coat, a hat or hood (no need for both), maybe a scarf and gloves. She'll be fine. If she's walking she's using her legs and definitely doesn't need snow pants. Snow pants are really for playing in the snow, sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, etc. They are not necessary for walking to school.

The only time I have ever warn that many layers was skiing or snowmobiling.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Where does she keep all her warm clothing when she's at school?
Most lockers around here are so small you can't fit a jacket inside them let alone all the stuff you are talking about.
That means she has to carry or wear everything all day at school - and it's too much.
On really cold days - drive her - to/from school so she doesn't have to wear all that.

In the mean time - to get some perspective - YOU dress up like you want her to and YOU wear that stuff all day and see how you like it.
It's really just not practical.

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S.W.

answers from Amarillo on

The 30F degree weather is just normal winter. If you had said something like -30F, then I would have said you have a reason for the extra clothing.

Let her be cold. She will learn to dress warmer. The big parka and the snow pants are overkill. Snow pants to me are for skiing and playing outside. I lived where the temps were -30F below before windchill (-45F) and all the kids had the pants on to go to school and play outside as we were stationed in Quebec Provence 200 miles north of Quebec City and they bundled up but were able to move about.

Her body/her battle with the elements.

the other S.

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D.N.

answers from Chicago on

Honestly, this is a battle I did not engage in. When my oldest were in middle and high school, they wore hoodies. NO coats. Granted in high school, it was not exactly a great thing to have to run to the locker when passing between classes and big coats don't fit. It was easier for them to stuff the hoodie in their pack. In the Chicago, 30F with the wind chill is not too cold but they would also do this when it was -10 and had to walk home almost 2 miles. My son has finally started wearing his coat that bought 2 years ago. Once she gets cold enough, she will start wearing the right stuff. Though I do agree getting bundled up for 30F is kind of overdoing it. And wearing snow pants to school can be a pain. Not much time to take off and put on.

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J.T.

answers from Dallas on

I don't know how far your daughter walks or if it's wet or dry out... me personally, it's gotta dip into the teens or 20s before I'll grab a coat/hat/gloves - i just can't stand the restrictive feeling of all the bulk of a coat, etc. Maybe look at thin layers of under clothing rather than lots of bulk if it's a similar issue? Make her take the coat with her and she can choose if she's cold enough to wear it?

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

There are 2 reasons people usually cite about dressing warm, and only one is true:
- You'll be uncomfortable if you get cold (true)
- You'll get sick if you get cold (not true, assuming you aren't exposed to the elements for many hours and experiencing frostbite or a sustained drop in body temperature).

So, it depends on what your daughter's reasoning is, how old she is, and how far a walk she has, as well as whether you walk with her.

If it were me, I'd pack her parka in a backpack and let her head out in the cold. It will take one time for her to be miserable about halfway there. If you walk with her, just put her stuff in a pack that you carry, with no announcement and no fanfare. When she complains of being cold, don't say, "I told you so!" and continue with the lecture of how you were right and she was wrong. (You were, she was, but don't use that. It's not effective.) Just say calmly, "How unfortunate for you. I'm nice and warm in my winter coat." No judgment, just a simple statement of fact. Keep walking. If she complains again, say calmly, "How unfortunate for you. I'm glad I chose to wear my boots and gloves." Then give her the option of putting on her clothes but don't help her - she'll find how hard it is to put on pants and do parka zippers with cold fingers. Again, from you, just a simple statement: "How unfortunate for you that your hands are too cold to do the zipper."

If you don't walk with her, then I'd put her stuff in the car and follow along about 50 yards behind. Once you see her grabbing herself and pulling her light jacket closer, you can pull past her and wave as if you are going past to go to the store or to work. She'll flag you down and ask for a ride. Say no, that you aren't going that way, but then say, "How unfortunate for you that you got so cold." You can let her get in the car and put on her clothes, which will be hard because her hands will be cold. Resist the urge to help her. (The other kids will keep walking, and that's fine.) Then she can get out and walk to school while you follow behind if you are worried that she is alone.

You will not have this argument the next time. If you do, lather/rinse/repeat.

If she doesn't get cold, then she's one of those kids who "runs hot" and doesn't need as many layers, or one with sensory issues who can't handle the bulk of winter clothing. You don't say if she has problems in this area so I'm not addressing that. Of course, when she gets to school, the teachers may not let her out to recess and she'll have to sit in the office. That's up to them to handle.

The point with the "How unfortunate for you" line (given to me in a parent/teacher workshop and specifically designed by teachers who find kids resisting hats/gloves at recess and who then miss out because they can just stand on the playground with their hands in their pockets, unable to play, is to make the child see that it is her OWN DECISION to be cold and not someone else's problem to fix.

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S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

Allow natural consequences for your daughter.

She will know when she's cold. My opinion? You've got her wearing clothes for a Canadian winter at -30 not 30 degrees. I wouldn't be surprised if she passed out from heat exhaustion with all that on.

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Yes, you can let her wear what she wants to school and let her learn NATURAL CONSEQUENCES.

I do suggest you have a way for her to get cold, really cold to learn it well, then you have her warm outerwear for her so she can get it on.

Maybe she can go out in the backyard and play in those clothes she wants to wear. That way she's at home and can come in any time.

I plopped our little one out in the snow barefoot because she wouldn't keep her shoes on in the car. I was tired of having to dig around and find them any time we got out.

So I plopped her out in the snow and I went in the house. She didn't like having cold feet one little bit. She's never taken her shoes off in the car since that moment where she learned the WHY of keeping her shoes on and how important it is.

I'm NOT saying let her do anything dangerous. Just let her feel the folly of her choice and let her learn. Instead of you telling her she's going to get cold she needs to learn what it feels like to be cold and realize she isn't dressing warm enough.

Next question: How to Dress Your Kid During Winter in Midwest? Sigh!