When Your Child Won’t Wear a Coat

Ashley B | February 8, 2013 | 16 Comments

Does your child kick up a fuss about wearing a coat in the winter? My daughter used to when we lived up north. This morning my sister was complaining to me that it’s very difficult for her to get a coat on my five-year-old nephew. I started wondering whether this was a common problem and casually asked some of my friends: Many of them also have a child who hates wearing a coat!

So, what is the answer to this problem? A couple friends and I have put our heads together and here’s what we’ve come up with:

  • Let them experience the natural consequence of being cold. Now, obviously this is not going to work if it’s below freezing out! But if it’s simply cold or chilly and not freezing, and your child is in good health and won’t be outside too long, then really, what’s the harm? Put the coat in his backpack (he’ll probably need it for recess later if they go outside), and let him just wear his long sleeves for a little while. Yes, the other moms at the bus stop might give you the stink eye, but other than that, the worst that will happen is that your child will take his coat out and put it on. It’s more likely that he won’t, either because he’s really not cold or because he wants to prove to you that you are wrong. Either way, there is no fight over it and no tears are shed.
  • Keep a blanket in the car. If you’re going from your heated house to the car, then from the heated car into another heated building, then a coat may be unnecessary. Actually, your child will be safer in the car without a coat if she is still in a five-point harness carseat, because it can interfere with how the straps fit. Buckle her in first, then tuck a blanket around her. If you’re doing more than just driving around town, you should bring the coat with you, just in case the car breaks down and you have to get out of it.
  • Dress him in layers. Some kids don’t like the bulk of a coat, but will happily wear an undershirt, a turtleneck and a heavy sweatshirt. Add a warm pair of pants, socks, a hat and gloves, and he should stay pretty toasty for a little while. Again, this isn’t something that you should do when it’s 10 degrees outside or when you’re going to spend two hours sledding, but as long as it’s not freezing, he should be fine for a short time.
  • Give up and just stay home. If your child is looking forward to going somewhere fun and outdoors, such as sledding or ice skating, but refuses to dress appropriately, then simply tell him that you can’t go until he gets his coat on (or agrees to put it on once you get there). Sometimes it takes that type of consequence for your child to make a good choice.

Thankfully, most of us will be experiencing the return of springlike weather soon, and we can forget all about uncomfortable coats and bulky boots until next winter! In the meantime, though, do you have any tried-and-true tips for getting kids to dress for the weather?

Comments (16)

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  1. denise smith says:

    my challenge is keeping the coat on my child she loves to take it off when im not around or not looking

  2. courtney hennagir says:

    i have the same problem denise! my son takes it off and then puts it down somewhere and can’t remember where he left it.i don’t know how many times i have had to dig around in the school lost and found for a coat or hat! when he was younger though it was a challenge to get him to wear his coat. i think he didn’t like feeling crammed into his seat in the car.

  3. Michelle S says:

    Same problem, except my daughter doesn’t want to wear her winter coat, but a spring jacket. Even if I take her outside to let her get a feel for the cold she doesn’t like being stuffed in her coat and it’s a struggle!

  4. Wendy T says:

    I used to just set a threshold in my mind. It was very generous to my son….I’d say it was around 15 degrees or lower and I used my mommy trump card. Other than that, it was natural consequences.

    And that is why personally, I would not have carried a blanket or suggested he dress in layers, etc. Now if he figured those things out and did it independently, more power to him. But if he’s gonna play like a big kid, have at it, but I won’t bail you out.

  5. Karen Hand says:

    Very good suggestions for a child who will not wear a coat during winter. I especially like the idea of dressing in layers, although that, in itself, can be quite restricting as well.

  6. Paula V says:

    Great tips to combat the kids not wearing coats. I can understand the bulkiness of coats but geesh I love a coat and gloves in winter.

  7. Nicole Becker says:

    My son is 16 years old and NEVER wears a winter coat and he is usually wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt!!! And NEVER gets sick!!!

  8. Nena Sinclair says:

    My son is now 19 and we live in Manitoba, Canada where it can be extremely cold in the winter…but even then my son will only wear a fleece-lined hoodie! He takes a bus to school, but usually walks home, and it’s over a mile! Brrr!!!

  9. Katherine G says:

    These are great tips. Now if you can give some ideas for some older kids. My daughter seems to think she is invincible.

  10. She says:

    Yep, won’t put it on, then won’t take it off, kids, you just never know.

  11. Ariel says:

    It seems this is a common issue in the northern hemisphere. And it has not gotten any better over the years, I bet. I know kids growing up that would never wear coats, and this one kid never wore pants, always shorts. I just don’t understand how they remain healthy even though the cold has to chill them to the bone and I am sure that leads to catching a cold!

  12. Danielle Lindquist says:

    Mine wont wear a coat and when he does he loses it at school every single time..Ugh

  13. Jessica Fortner says:

    Thanks for the advice. My youngest has no problem wearing a coat, but my oldest son would wear short sleeves and no coat year-round if I’d let him! :p

  14. Gloria Walshver says:

    When it was cooler weather I insisted to my son to wear a coat, he refused and said no.

  15. Carla Bonesteel says:

    Just wait until they see their friends with no coat, and SHORTS on in the winter!! Really, let them experience the consequences…that’s really the only way. Besides, you don’t get sick from being cold, you get sick from germs…LOL

  16. Christina Kelbel says:

    My 4 year old son has never protested to wearing his, and I’m glad.

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