Getting a toddler dressed can lead to plenty of struggles. From wanting to wear their yellow shirt instead of a green one, to being particular about the way their sock seams feel on their feet, toddlers can be ultra picky about their wardrobe. When the weather outside calls for a jacket and your toddler outright refuses to wear theirs, you could be in for a power struggle of epic proportions. Knowing how to get your toddler to like their coat is one way to ensure that you keep clothing battles to a minimum this winter season.
Wearing a coat is an absolute necessity during the fall and winter months in most places. Even here in south Texas, where the temperature only dips down ever so slightly compared to the polar plunge other parts of the country experience, wearing a coat is unavoidable during the fall downpours we typically see and the blustery heart of the winter months.
"Toddlers all have preferences, like everyone on the planet. They may feel strongly about like not liking tight jackets, itchy tops, or uncomfortable socks. Every young boy and girl wants to be comfortable, which includes having clothes that feel good," Maureen Healy, child psychologist, author of The Emotionally Healthy Child and parenting coach at Growinghappykids.com tells Romper. "Of course, this may go against your logic when it's raining and you want your son to wear his raincoat, but he says it doesn't feel good."
I can honestly see where toddlers who protest wearing certain items of clothing are coming from. I mean, they don't have much control over their little lives, so making a bit of a stink about what they wear seems logical. Regrettably, they have no choice but to come to terms with coat or jacket-wearing when the cold wind is howling outside or there is a monster rainstorm, which is easier said than done.
Understanding that toddlers have preferences and using that to your advantage is the key to encouraging them to like wearing their jackets. "Some boys and girls are particular about what they wear and this may never change. The more you include them in a decision, and help them find something that feels as comfortable as possible, the better the experience will go," Healy says. "Since a jacket is something they'll wear often, maybe it means getting one in their favorite color or with their favorite superhero — or something that feels good on many levels so they'll actually wear it. Or finding accessories like a hat, gloves, and scarves that they particularly like."
Healy notes that preparation is the best approach when it comes to jacket battles with toddlers, but if you haven't been able to preemptively stock up on fun accessories or your child picked out their jacket and still protests, she says there are several other methods you can try to encourage your toddler to wear their jacket.
"Another suggestion is to role play with your child and wear coats during imaginary play so your son or daughter begins connecting wearing a coat with something fun. You want him or her to begin liking wearing a coat and become familiar with how it feels," Healy tells Romper. "Research shows that 'pairing' something you don't like with something you do like helps you do something sooner — like your toddler beginning to wear a coat when previously she didn't like it."
Healy also recommends that like with many situations where toddlers aren't following suit and tantrums ensue, picking your battles is absolutely necessary. "I recommend parents stay present with their child, acknowledge what's happening, and share what they need them do to. Of course, there are times when avoiding a screaming meltdown may be more important than wearing a fleece, and other times the jacket is more important," Healy says. "I am also not against negotiation (or what some say as bribery) if your son can wear his jacket, and later get rewarded with a hot chocolate or something special."