3 Common Reasons Toddlers Refuse To Wear a Coat & How to Deal

toddler in coat

With the weather outside so frightful, few problems are less delightful than a toddler who refuses to wear his coat. You're like: Come on! It's freezing out, and we're late to an appointment. Your toddler is willing to go -- that's something at least -- but insists on no coat no matter how much you beg and plead. You consider wrestling your toddler into one, but unless you staple it on, your toddler is completely capable of tearing it right back off. It's enough to make any mom think Fine! Freeze your butt off. But then again, a cold, miserable toddler would just compound your already bad day.

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While toddlers can't always explain their reasons for not wanting to wear a coat, there are many possibilities that parents should consider in an effort to alleviate their daily battles:

1. Your toddler truly is too hot. Even if you're cold, toddlers may not be as they tear around the playground. "Unlike adults, toddlers have a thick layer of brown fat just beneath their skin that with both insulate them and can burn calories just to generate heat," explains Scott Carroll, MD, professor of child psychiatry at the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine. And if you force your toddler to wear a coat anyway, a toddler will start to associate the coat with being uncomfortable, and resist wearing it even when he really should.
Solution
: Try not to bundle them up too soon—in the season, or even before you leave your house. "Leave the coat unzipped until they have been outside for a while," suggests Carroll. "That way, they'll zip it when they're cold and start to associate the coat with being comfortable." In the car, keep your toddler's coat off and just cover your child with it until you emerge; cars warm up fast and can make a child in a coat too hot. Or if you're outside and wondering if your toddler could truly be comfortable, check out this handy government-vetted temperature guideline chart for kids.

2. The coat is uncomfortable for some other reason. Heat may not be the only reason toddlers and coats don't always mix. Tags or strangely-textured linings inside the coat may also be irritating, and if the coat is puffy, a toddler may not appreciate how it restricts his movements.
Solution
: Try cutting out tags, and having your child wear coats made of different materials and levels of puffiness (maybe trade with another parent so it doesn't cost anything and see if that helps). In the car, always keep your child's coat off -- this isn't just to make your child feel cooler or more comfortable in the car seat, it's an important safety measure that could save his life.

More from The Stir: The Important Winter Car Seat Safety Rule You're Probably Breaking & Why You Must Stop Now (PHOTOS)

3. Your toddler is making a power play. "At this stage, toddlers are trying to take control of themselves and their environment, and this a completely normal part of their development," says Kelly Tonelli, Psy.D., a psychologist in Irvine, CA. "They will battle to the end. Parents need to choose their battles, and physical safety is an important battleground."
Solution
: Should you refuse to leave the house if your child refuses to wear a coat? "That's a tough one," Tonelli admits. "Kids are smart. If they realize they can get out of going somewhere by refusing to wear a coat, they will. Use this one only if staying home will deprive them of something they really want -- and you are willing to give it up."

Another tactic? Just bring the coat and wait for your toddler to ask you for it. Or, even sneakier, go ahead and give your toddler what he wants -- control -- but over something other than whether to wear a coat. Instead, give him a say over which coat he'll get to wear: i.e., "OK, Henry, it's time to go to the store. Do you want to wear your red jacket or your blue one?" That way, you both get what you want -- and out the door -- without fighting an epic battle every time.

What's your biggest struggle with your toddler?

 

Image © Laurence Mouton/PhotoAlto/Corbis

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