What to Do When Your Child Refuses to Put On Winter Clothes
The Understood Team
At a Glance
Winter clothes can be tight, bulky, and itchy.
Try clothes with softer fabrics and looser fits.
Giving kids a say in what they wear might encourage them to dress warmly.
When it’s cold or wet outside, we want kids to dress warmly so they don’t get sick. But many kids find winter clothing too tight, bulky, itchy, or hot. A few kids are also extra sensitive to how things feel. Instead of wool just being scratchy, it can feel almost painful to them.
Here’s what you can do if your child refuses to wear winter clothes.
Try more comfortable clothing.
Winter jackets are bulky, and sweaters might feel too tight to some kids. Small changes to what your child wears can make a big difference. You can take steps to make winter clothes more comfortable:
Look for softer fabrics, like fleece.
Remove clothing tags.
Try a hooded sweatshirt rather than a coat.
Get sweaters with looser collars.
Buy soft undershirts and underwear.
You can also make clothes more comfortable by having your child dress in layers. Rather than one big coat, have your child wear a T-shirt, followed by a long-sleeved shirt, a vest, and then a lighter jacket. That way, after going indoors, your child can peel off layers if it gets too hot.
Keep in mind every child is different. What might feel nice to you may feel irritating to your child’s skin. So you’ll have to experiment and see what works. (Some kids may even like more fitted, tighter clothing.)
Give your child a say.
The more say kids have in what they wear, the more likely they are to dress warmly. Make sure to look for winter clothes together with your child. Before you get something, have your child try it on.
Let your child choose what to wear each day. You can guide your child with some basic rules (pants, long sleeves). If your child is young, give two or three options to make things simpler. With older kids, you may have to bargain. That might mean giving up on the scarf and mittens if your child agrees to the coat and hat.
Make a system for winter clothes.
Avoid arguments by having a system. Put all the summer clothes like shorts and flip-flops away and out of sight. Then, organize winter clothing wherever your child gets ready.
Start a daily routine. The night before, have your child pick out what to wear the next day, and lay it out for the morning. In the morning, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier to leave more time for getting dressed. If you have time, you can create a picture chart or a written list for getting ready in the morning to remind your child what to wear.
You can also keep some warm clothes at school in case your child leaves and isn’t dressed warmly enough. Young kids can leave an extra sweatshirt in a cubby at school or with a teacher. Older kids can keep a spare in their locker or backpack.
Let your child face natural consequences.
If your child still refuses to wear winter clothes, it may not be worth it to argue or fight. You may need to let it go and let your child experience what it’s like to be cold.