Judge Me All You Want: I Refuse To Force My Three-Year Old To Wear A Coat

I am done.

Actually, I was done about 12 days ago.  I am not going to spend any more time fighting with Sadie about wearing her coat.  And while we are not in Siberia, it gets chilly in Chicago, so I look like an asshole mom whose little kid is turning blue next to her.  But, I simply cannot take one more stand-off in the foyer, or in front of school, or in the car where I beg her to put her coat on so she doesn’t freeze.

“Sadie, Mommy can see her breath as she yells at you. That means you should put your coat on because it’s cold.”

“No, Mom, I don’t want to.”

Around and around we go, so I am done.

Do Not Cross Her

Do Not Cross Her

Here’s my thought process (she wrote defensively): She’s old enough to understand hot and cold.  When and if she gets cold enough, she will put it on.  The struggle over it was sapping my will to live, and I need to save that will for blogging all the important things I do all day.

I would say it’s going very well. On day 1, the Headmaster of Sadie’s school saw me and Sadie standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street.  He stared straight into my soul eyes, and pretended to talk to Sadie (but he was totally talking to me), “You’re going to be kind of cold, aren’t you?”

With only a smidge of “mind your own business” hostility, I replied, “probably.”

I am not sure who was vindicated when we got about half way across the street and Sadie cried out, “Mooooooom! I am so cold.

One day 2, I caught some looks from other mothers, but there are plenty of reasons to look askance at me so maybe it wasn’t the coat thing.

A few strangers have mentioned that “her little arms” are “probably freezing,” and I always agree.  But you know what’s at the end of those little arms? Fierce little fists that attack my head when I broach the coat issue.

And I am ready for when someone pulls the “she’s going to get sick” speech.  Because guess what, being cold doesn’t make you sick.  I know. I checked Wikipedia.  It’s science, people.

So, yes, that’s my kid walking in the snow in her sundress.  She has a new London Fog coat from Costco just waiting for her to slip into, and I am happy to help her put her cold little arms in it.  But I’m not spending one more second begging her to wear it.


42 thoughts on “Judge Me All You Want: I Refuse To Force My Three-Year Old To Wear A Coat

  1. My little sister was just like Sadie (and I, of course, was the picture of an agreeable child). She refused, at times, to wear everything from coats and hats to long sleeve shirts and pants (skirts only). And my mom never, ever argued with her about it. She said once we got older that arguing about it would just suck the life out of her, and she had better things to do with her time. So she took the attitude that my sister would just have to be cold and uncomfortable, and at some point, she would be miserable enough that she would just put the coat on, so to speak. Eventually my sister grew out of it, and no lasting harm was done.

  2. Oh my gosh I’m right there with you. My son comes out of his preschool with flushed cheeks from that oven of a classroom and matter-of-factly tells me “Mama I don’t need my coat!” And, here in Calgary, AB when it’s -1000 out, sometimes I have to fight the coat battle. But for the most part I say, “Sure. No coat? No problem.” A short walk from the hotbox to the truck won’t kill him. If anyone ever comments I just shrug and say “Whatta ya do?” and carry on, carrying his coat as he runs ahead to play in the snow.

  3. And you know what, this’ll likely wind up with her quietly, without a word, one day picking up her coat and handing it to you to help her with. When you release yourself from the powerlessness, she’ll either do it or she won’t and if she doesn’t, just go with fuck it, I’ma be warm (you know, just so the people staring at and judging you can wonder why you’re all bundled and she’s in a tank top.)

    Before I had kids (and perhaps sometimes still now, I admit it) I used to hate seeing people dressed warmly while their kids didn’t have a coat to be seen. Now I reserve judgment only for the assholes of infants who have no say to being out sockless in the winter, but a three year old? Please. It’s cold and she’ll find out. I invite you try to put the coat on her while I videotape her pummeling you with tiny fists of fury. It’ll be on YouTube labeled asshole coat forcer finds out why toddler was coatless the hard way in 3…2…

  4. I don’t know who these people are that you are daring to judge you, but you ain’t gonna get it here. Not from me, not on this issue. Neither of my children wear their coats. Although C insists on a hat at all times which, given her completely bald status as she nears her 2nd birthday, makes complete sense. It’s one issue not worth fighting over. Now naptime? That’s non-negotiable. Mama has blogging to do.

  5. We’ve had the same battles with our son. So he wore a sweatshirt through most of the last winter instead of a coat. It was at least a lined sweatshirt. When it got below zero, he did ask for his coat. He also wore short sleeves for most of the winter. I gave up. He’s fine. I did explain to his teacher that this was his choice, but she totally got it.

    There are bigger issues than winter coats, unfortunately.

  6. Have you heard of Love and Logic? My daughter and I follow that program with her boys. It’s all about choices. If she doesn’t want to wear a coat, that’s her choice. She suffers the consequences. Good for you!

      • Alicia and I went to a workshop together. It made me cry on the last session because I realized that I really screwed up with my kids. I wish they’d had Love and Logic back then. It’s a great program. They have a website with lots of parenting tips. I return to it often to keep up with the latest. It makes parenting so much easier when you let the kids make their own choices and live with them. Here’s an example: When they went on vacation, A gave each boy $20 to spend however they wanted. When it was gone, it was gone. They knew Mom wouldn’t give them more.

  7. My daughter is like me and very warm-blooded. I get why she doesn’t want to wear a coat. But there were times when even I was cold and I tried once or twice to force her to wear her coat. Then I realized that she is so strong-willed (no idea where she got THAT from!) she was just going to have to freeze her butt off. The more I pushed, the more she resisted. And yes, I got comments from other parents about her not wearing a coat. My reply? “When she realizes she’s cold and there’s something she can do about it, she’ll put on her coat. It’s not worth fighting over.” She’s now four and wears her coat out the door every single time without a fight.

  8. I am so with you. My son is the same way. In fact…he has worn SHORTS every day to school thus far. Yes. It was 38 degrees this morning and he wore shorts…and no coat I might add…and a short sleeved polo shirt. I just can’t fight that battle. When he gets really cold, he takes a hoodie sweatshirt and he will wear jeans. I think it’s stupid. But you know what is more stupid? Leaving the house every day screaming and yelling.
    I totally believe in natural consequences for decisions. I’ve never read “Love and Logic” but I FLOVE “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk” It’s like my parenting bible. –Lisa

  9. For whatever this is worth. . .the director of my kids’ Montessori school once told me that children physically don’t have a fully developed sense of temperature and that’s why they need adults to say, “This is coat weather.” She likened it to homeless people who are sometimes bundled up in fifty layers in the summer; they’ve lost their ability to sense temperature accurately and are back in that child-like state. Anyway, I feel for you. . .this isn’t much of an issue in Texas! (But sunscreen is.)

  10. Good for you. Don’t let the judgy people get to you. We have to pick our battles. IMHO, this one is not worth it. I gave up on this fight too and my kid wore a hoodie almost all winter when he was 2 and 3. I only fight if we are playing in snow – otherwise, if we are in the car, I don’t argue. If he says he’s cold I simply say, “I’ll bet you are.” He started wearing his coat at almost 5. I figure he figured he wasn’t proving anything anymore.

  11. We have the same situation at my house. There’s a big difference in the weather here, of course. However, I figure just because I am cold doesn’t mean the kids are. So the 7 year old wears shorts to school in December and the 4 year old wears sandals. They are both happy and therefore, so am I.

  12. “And I am ready for when someone pulls the “she’s going to get sick” speech. Because guess what, being cold doesn’t make you sick. I know. I checked Wikipedia. It’s science, people.”


    My mom and I have an ongoing argument about this. She says that getting cold will make my boys sick. I say no, it will not. My pediatrician even backs me up. OMG OMG OMG. Burns me up.

  13. I used to fight with my daughters to wear their coats and this was when they were teenagers! They did not want to wear coats that added any bulk to them. God, how that frustrated me. Why do you care so much how you look, don’t you want to be warm? I would shout at them. But it was clear, they cared much more how they looked than they did about comfort…..Exhibit A: high heels….

  14. 100% agree. I point to coats as we leave. If either child refuses, I shrug. I ask if they want me to bring it just in case. They always say yes. So when they ask, we are prepared. And if jackass know-it-alls look at me, I shrug and lift the coat slightly. Nothing says, “my kid is stubborn and I’m all out giving a f*ck” like a beaten-dwon mom with a size 3 coat draped on her arm.

    Colds come from viruses, not cold. It’s science.
    Also, grandma, they don’t come from wet hair. Jayzus. It’s like 1880 around here.

  15. I always get secretly irked when people come up to me and say, “Wow. It’s cold outside. Doesn’t she need a coat?” It’s like, Really? It’s cold out?! I had no idea! And what are these coats of which you speak? How does one acquire them for tiny humans? It’s completely impossible that I’m obviously already aware of all these things and am trying some kind of logical consequences parenting thing so THANK GOD you’re here to teach me, oh wise Know-er of All Things Coat.

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