A coat is not always part of the leaving-the-house routine, which is one possible explanation for why a child may resist wearing one. It disrupts their sense of order. “My child will not wear a jacket!” many parents tell us.
How do we get our toddlers to put on a coat?
First, let’s offer them some empathy. A jacket may literally feel like an obstacle, making children feel more constrained than comfortable when they first put it on. If you’re facing a frequent battle over coat-wearing, read on for tips on how to approach it and to empower your child in the process.
Our little ones have a sense of how things should go when they leave the house. When we introduce a coat, it can be at first seen as a barrier to accomplishing the task of getting out the door.
(Note: Kids in different climates might have a variety of experiences.)
Sometimes we are even asking them to put it on twice in a short amount of time if we take it off in the car for optimal carseat safety.
4 ways to make coat-wearing a positive experience
- Exposure. When we see cold weather coming, bring the coat out so that they can have experience with it before it becomes a hurry. They can explore it by wearing it in the house. You can show them how to use the tag to hang it on a hook.
- Practice. If your child is old enough to try the coat flip trick, this can be a fun way to build confidence in coat-wearing. (A child must be quite steady on their feet to try this, usually two or older.) Watch this video >
- Modeling ourselves wearing them. Verbalize what you’re doing when you put it on. “When I put my jacket on, I’ll be ready to go out!”
- Reading about winter wear. The Snowy Day is a great book to help talk about jackets. When jackets appear in other books, point them out. Later, when you are putting on the jacket, you can connect back to the story. “We are getting bundled up like Peter in The Snowy Day.”
What to look for in a coat for toddlers
- Read reviews and look out for low-quality zippers or other parents reporting frustration.
- Select a loose-fitting coat with a smooth lining.
- Fleece sleeves are frustrating especially to a sensitive child.
Remember to offer the jacket as a choice only if a “no” is acceptable. If you keep multiple layers on coat hooks, remove the ones that are not an option, such as a hooded sweatshirt until the weather makes it appropriate again.
If either choice is alright with you, you can offer to bring it along in case they change their mind. As they get older, they can be responsible for carrying it to the car if they choose to do so without putting it on.