From what age should one heed "But I'm not cold!"?



I am regularly called on to arbitrate in the on-going dispute between 8-year-old daughter and her mother about how many layers to wear when going outside in the cold. Mum* says "More", daughter says "I'm not cold".

From what age should you just let them get on with it?

(Is there ever an age when you shouldn't?)

*As one particularly self-aware father once said: "Put your coat on, I'm cold!"


Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

Reputation: 1 209


  • Yes, that has happened a few times...
  • < – CalculatorFeline – 2016-03-14T19:53:04.813

    1Let her choose that choice for a few times, then maybe stop? – None – 2016-03-14T18:49:40.590

    17For what it's worth, as a child, I was notorious for the "i'm not cold" argument. My parents had to finally concede that I meant it when I went to college in New York, as one of two people at the school who wore shorts and a t-shirt the entire winter. No frostbite. I started wearing warmer clothes when I started getting cold... around 28 years old. – Cort Ammon – 2016-03-14T21:25:40.087


    You can also see the answers to this similar question that I asked. Most of these answers suggest allowing children a lot younger than 8 to decide whether to wear warm clothes

    – MiniMum – 2016-03-15T07:23:17.417

    @anongoodnurse That's what my mother would always say to me when I was a kid. – kasperd – 2016-03-15T11:05:31.390

    8This is the first Stack Exchange post in six years that I'm on the network that I'm forwarding to the wife. – dotancohen – 2016-03-15T16:45:13.703

    If there is reasonable chance of danger to their health, enforce your opinion. If there is little reasonable chance of danger, let them have their way. For example - my 17-year-old insists on wearing sandals when driving to gymnastics practice, even in sub-freezing winter weather. OK - little chance she'll get frostbitten in the car with the heater going. However, if the same kid wanted to wear sandals to go sledding I'd say it's Not Happening! I want them to learn to make good decisions and choices - and in order to do that they have to make their own choices, and live with the results. – Bob Jarvis – 2016-03-15T16:49:15.907

    4Sweater, n. Garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.”

    ― Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary – Ross Millikan – 2016-03-16T22:09:08.173

    As i child I never got cold. I hated when my parents made me put on too many layers. Listen to you kid, unless there is a real danger of injury, let them get cold. They may not get cold at the same point that you do. – coteyr – 2016-03-17T01:50:23.970

    Wait a second… 8 years old is already an age where the child can already take important decisions right. If she says that she's not cold, then she isn't cold, right? Or if she is, be it on her risk. – John – 2016-03-19T09:49:06.657

    2I would rather have my kid get cold and learn responsibility than worry about fighting with them over clothing. You may have to deal with some inconvenience, but that's what parenting is about. I routinely try to curb my wife's protectionism, because its a part of balanced parenting. Dads should definitely try to carve out areas like this where their influence is felt (barefoot in the store day, why not). – Ian – 2017-07-14T00:30:08.430



    You should listen to your child as soon as they are able to offer an opinion. This is true even if the child is wrong. (Note that listening to a child is not the same as following the child's wishes.)

    Here it sounds like there's some argument between the child and a parent. The parent knows it's cold outside, and tells the child to put a coat on. The child is in a warm home, and so doesn't see the need for a coat. In this situation the parent can just take the coat with them, and offer it to the child when they're outside and the child realises how cold it is and that they need a coat. This makes life easier for everyone. It encourages the child to make their own decisions. It respects the rights of the child. It avoids arguments.

    In these kinds of situations - where the decision is easy to change; where harm is unlikely; where other people aren't being disrupted - there's no good reason to ignore the child's wishes.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403


    1No, the child is outside and has taken off the coat :) – Benjol – 2016-03-14T10:50:34.783

    18@Benjol The same still applies, though. Carry the coat, and either she'll change her mind or not. Unless it's freezing, cold isn't actively harmful - at worst, she may get tired somewhat quicker, but from personal experience, that is rarely the case even for long walks (the walking itself is a much bigger drain, and works to warm you up quite effectively). If it is freezing, it's a bit more complicated - you may need protection even if you don't feel cold, to prevent tissue damage. – Luaan – 2016-03-14T13:16:11.743

    5@Benjol so she doesn't feel cold - isn't that a good thing? :-) Keep in mind that in my experience, children just plain move more than adults, and sweating under a heavy coat isn't much fun. – YviDe – 2016-03-14T13:55:36.167

    @Luaan you're right, checking whether the hands feel cold might be a good idea, for example – YviDe – 2016-03-14T14:04:38.313

    @YviDe A good idea in principle, but I'm not sure what place would be appropriate (and comfortable) for checking the body temperature - hands get cold pretty quickly even without a drop in body temperature, the same with unclothed feet. There's a reason we tend to measure temperature under the armpit / in the ear etc. :D Overall, I think the quickest and simplest test is just to check for shivering - that's the first (and most visible) sign of a drop in body temperature. And I do mean shivering, not just "a single shiver". But I suspect the child will want their coat long before that :) – Luaan – 2016-03-14T14:11:20.193

    1@Luaan hmm, I was thinking about "tissue damage", as in "freezing off fingers", not as in body temperature. That doesn't drop until much later in hypothermia. The human body is pretty good at protecting it's core temperature. – YviDe – 2016-03-14T14:12:49.207

    1@YviDe Oh, sure. But that only really happens in freezing temperatures, as I've noted before. And in freezing weather, thin parts of the body like ears or hands really should be covered regardless of whether you wear a coat or not. If the kid doesn't like that, don't force them. Just make sure to cut the walk short; when they have to deal with the (very mild) freezing damage later, they'll be more careful next time. Let nature do the teaching, carefuly :P Body temperature usually only drops when you're exhausted for air temperatures not much lower than freezing, but it can happen. – Luaan – 2016-03-14T14:20:46.740

    1" It respects the rights of the child." - while I love this answer, what rights in particular are you alluding to? – Gusdor – 2016-03-14T14:57:36.903

    1"This makes life easier for everyone." You don't become a parent because you think it's going to be easy. Being a parent means making the tough choices because your child (not adult) is not yet wise enough to make them. If it's a chilly spring day, I might go the route you go - they'll be uncomfortable but probably not sick as a result. If it's a cold day (within a few degrees of freezing), they're wearing their coat, no debate. Naturally, the older they get, the lower the line goes where I'll let them explore. – corsiKa – 2016-03-14T15:25:36.070

    7@corsiKa - you don't need to make tough choices. You allow your child to make those choices. If it's freezing outside the child will soon ask for a coat. – None – 2016-03-14T19:18:45.623

    3@Luaan Check the back of the neck, or the back (if you can reach it). Fingers probably will get cold, so encourage (but don't force) the child to put gloves on. – None – 2016-03-14T19:20:01.020

    1@LeopoldoSparks I disagree. If it's freezing outside, I won't let my child go outside without a coat. There are ways to teach other than experience. I've never chopped my fingers off using a saw because I was taught not too. My grandfather didn't let me chop the first few off and go "ah ha! You won't do that again, will ya ya whippersnapper!" – corsiKa – 2016-03-14T19:34:16.243

    18@corsiKa Or you can respect that they are intelligent (if immature/still developing/inexperienced/etc) beings able to learn from experience and let them do so. When you say "go outside without a coat and you will get cold" that's abstract, especially when you never let it happen. When you say that and then they feel it then they may learn (after a few times) that maybe you are speaking wisdom. Growing up is making mistakes and learning from them, assuming we're talking "a bit chilly" not "frostbite in seconds" here then it's a safe mistake that will do them no harm and let them learn. – Tim B – 2016-03-14T19:41:47.447

    1Love the first sentence. – R.. – 2016-03-15T02:08:06.693

    The parent knows it's cold outside, and tells the child to put a coat on. The child is in a warm home... I don't know how it sounds like that's what's happening here. The question didn't state anything about being in a warm environment going into a colder one. That's a very different set of circumstances and reasoning differences - here the child might not know it's cold outside, but in the question, it seems that they're already in a cold environment and the child has stated they're not cold, in which case you should believe them. – The Anathema – 2016-03-15T14:29:58.790

    Why should I take the jacket with us until the child realizes that things are too cold to be without a jacket? This is basically teaching the child to act out in a distrusting way until the proof is absolutely undeniable, and not to have any faith in the wisdom they hear from the experienced adult. Yes, the approach of just taking the coat may result in the child learning better about the cold, but with that approach, the child may also be learning some undesirable lessons. – TOOGAM – 2016-03-16T03:23:22.340


  • the parent can just take the coat with them, and offer it to the child when they're outside and the child realises how cold it is and that they need a coat.* --> applicable to other relationships and many areas in life. +1
  • < – BCLC – 2016-03-17T12:33:48.847

    I'd also like to add, being the one who brought the coat when your child gets cold can ingratiate them to you. They'll be more likely to listen to you in the future when you offer your advice. – Anoplexian – 2016-12-08T21:09:25.843


    This is an almost universal dispute between mothers and children. Children are terrible judges of appropriate clothing; they frequently resist bringing adequate layers.

    My policy is to let them make that bad choice a few times, and they will naturally self-correct after being cold and miserable.

    Update Don't overthink it everyone. Yes, child can get hypothermia in very cold, or restful setting (sleeping in very cold environment outside of sleeping bag, waiting for bus in very cold weather). But playing or walking outside in moderately cold, even slightly freezing temperature, core temperature will remain elevated due to physical activity. And if their core temperature starts to lower or even even extremities (arms) start to get cold, they are very likely to ask to put coat back on -- especially if it is close by / outside with them.

    Note: if child is falling asleep, or waiting calmly at bus stop in cold, of course you urge or insist that they put coat on. That's a different situation

    Rationale The reason I like this approach is because it removes unnecessary conflict. Instead of child resisting purely because power struggle emerges as you try to force them to put coat on when they don't feel cold in the moment (you can't make me!), it lets them put coat on when they get cold as they slow down / stop running around. And over time, they will associate coat with comfort, not conflict. Self-solving problem as long as you don't make it a habitual conflict.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 635

    1But will they get poorly? That's the main accusation: "If you stay out dressed like that, you'll catch your death of cold, and then it's me who has to stay up all night looking after you". – Benjol – 2016-03-14T10:40:08.627

    48Being out in the cold does not contribute to the common cold. – Buzz – 2016-03-14T11:06:25.290

    20Cold and flu are caused by viruses, not by fluctuations in body surface temperature. Studies have repeatedly shown that short term exposure to cold temperatures in inadequate clothing does not increase likelihood of contracting viral illness in humans -- even when deliberately exposed to rhinovirus (although it can stress some animals or inhibit their immune response under certain conditions). Humans catch cold in cold weather because they tend to cluster together inside, thus making transmission easier, not because they go outside without a coat. – MealyPotatoes – 2016-03-14T11:16:31.393

    Here is an approachable article with pretty good research:

    – MealyPotatoes – 2016-03-14T11:18:47.327


    From nature: "Colds are most common in winter, and researchers have known for decades that many rhinoviruses thrive in low temperatures" and also "Foxman says that the data suggest that these temperature-dependent immune reactions help to explain rhinoviruses' success at lower temperatures" so not sure I agree with your assertion that temperature doesn't change the chance of getting a cold.

    – Nick Meldrum – 2016-03-14T12:23:36.253

    13Rhinovirus is transmitted in two ways: aerosolized droplets (e.g. Coughing / sneezing) and contact with contaminated surfaces (sharing cups, etc). Both of these vectors have nothing to do with clothing layers, and everything to do with proximity to infected humans. when an infected person sneezes, the virus must persist in exposed air until another person breathes it in. The virus does better in colder ambient AIR temperature, but it makes no difference if the person is bundled up, or stark naked. – MealyPotatoes – 2016-03-14T12:37:12.627

    4@NickMeldrum It's not like your body temperature drops to the temperatures where this makes a difference just because you don't wear warm clothing (you'd be long dead before that anyway). The study is about viruses in the environment, not humans who are "inadequately dressed". So sure, rhinoviruses might thrive in low temperatures, but that has no relation to whether you wear warm clothes or not (as long as you don't get to the point of exhaustion, but then it doesn't matter whether you got there by not wearing warm clothes or running, for example). – Luaan – 2016-03-14T13:12:12.600

    13I bet the stress of arguing about clothing will probably contribute to a weakened immune system more so than the lack of clothing. – Nelson – 2016-03-14T13:58:37.740

    2There is hypothermia. Unlikely - seriously unlikely a parent wouldn't spot that it was cold enough for that to be an issue. I'd suggest a compromise of bringing another layer that the child can put on when they realise that they're cold. – GeoffAtkins – 2016-03-14T15:01:15.473

    4It's worth noting that some of the earliest behavioral symptoms of incipient hypothermia include irritability, poor decision-making and change aversion -- basically, the constant low-level discomfort elevates stress levels and gradually shuts down higher reasoning in favor of instinctive "huddle up and bear it" behavior. As a summer camp organizer living in a cold climate, I've had to deal with shivering children sitting in their pajamas and refusing to get into their sleeping bag "because it's too cold". So you do need to keep an eye out for such harmful behavioral feedback loops. – Ilmari Karonen – 2016-03-14T15:37:36.103

    1... (FWIW, this is true for adults too, especially if they're not used to dealing with moderately cold weather for extended periods. It sneaks up on you. Oh, and the trick I used with the shivering child? A hot water bottle in their sleeping bag, both to actually warm it up and, more importantly, to make it seem more inviting in the short term. A cup of sweet hot tea or fruit juice can also work great as a short-term perk to interrupt the cold-induced stress loop, and allow the causes to be properly dealt with.) – Ilmari Karonen – 2016-03-14T15:47:25.570

    @Buzz "Catch your death of cold" can mean "freeze to death". It doesn't just deal with the cold or flu virus. – Nic Hartley – 2016-03-14T16:26:28.920

    1@Luaan not sure what study you are referring to but the link I provided talks about studies that absolutely are about humans who are "inadequately dressed". e.g. "In 2005, for example, researchers at Cardiff University, UK, dunked healthy people’s feet into icy water to show that exposure to cold could cause an upper-respiratory infection" anyway my point was not there is proof either way but that anyone making a statement either way authoritatively is on shaky ground as there is little agreement between studies. – Nick Meldrum – 2016-03-14T20:51:27.160

    3@MealyPotatoes you talk very authoritatively about it "makes no difference if the person is bundled up, or stark naked" despite there being studies that show it does, what makes you so sure? Your statement is a simplification. The link I provided for instance states: "Foxman says that the data suggest that these temperature-dependent immune reactions help to explain rhinoviruses' success at lower temperature". So there are clearly scientists showing there may well be effects that change the likelihood of getting a cold in cold temperatures. – Nick Meldrum – 2016-03-14T20:54:52.560

    Nick: A very brief Google search confirmed that recent research appears to demonstrate a link between chill and immune response. So, there you go, OP: if your kid gets chilly and is exposed to rhinovirus, they may be more likely to catch a cold. Science! However, it's a judgement call if OP let's his kids take coat off outside. Personally, I plan to still let mine take their coats off if they fee too warm while playing. The possible increased risk of catching a cold does not make the fight worth it to me. But that's just me. – MealyPotatoes – 2016-03-14T21:31:33.843

    2@NickMeldrum The very next sentence says that other studies failed to find a connection - it's not very uncommon for a study to be simply wrong (for example, due to inadequate isolation of other factors or other trouble with methodology). And looking at the 2005 article, the connection they found is very weak at best - cold developed in 10% of the people, and those also reported they are more affected by colds in general. And as far as I can tell, that also ignores that 5% of the people in the control group developed cold as well, so even with their own numbers, you're looking at ~5%, not 10%. – Luaan – 2016-03-14T22:34:13.830

    @Luann okay last comment from me on this I promise :) I agree there are other studies failing to find a connection - my point wasn't that there is a connection but that we don't know authoritatively, as I said: "my point was not there is proof either way but that anyone making a statement either way authoritatively is on shaky ground as there is little agreement between studies". Anyway it's a horrible tangent now to the original question so sorry! – Nick Meldrum – 2016-03-15T07:37:16.410

    For those saying that you dont catch a cold by being cold, you might like to check the science which may surprise you.

    – Jamiec – 2016-03-15T15:36:42.550

    You don't get the common cold simply by being cold - you will get it more often if you're cold because the immune system in the human airways is sub-optimal in colder temperatures, and the rhinoviruses survive and replicate better and faster in colder temperatures. So being cold in and of itself doesn't make you get the cold, but it does increase your risks of getting it.

    – Vegard – 2016-03-15T16:01:43.087

    1"Children are terrible judges of appropriate clothing; they frequently resist bringing adequate layers." Crazy talk. Try: Mothers are terrible judges of appropriate clothing; they frequently insist in bringing excessive layers. – Shane – 2016-03-16T20:24:52.433

    1@Shane - Paraphrase: everyone is the worst at everything. :) – MealyPotatoes – 2016-03-16T21:20:18.943

    @Vegard And you don't die from being on fire, you actually die from the effects of the damages on your system that the high temperature cause. – Alex – 2016-03-19T12:08:26.233

    @Alex Yes... your body being destroyed by high temperature is pretty much being bein on fire means, in a carried-over meaning. It's sort of unavoidable -- being "on fire" necessitates "your body being destroyed by high temperature". On the other hand, you can be freezing for 10 years straight and never actually get the common cold. – Vegard – 2016-03-19T14:54:25.957

    @Vegard Nope, you can be a stuntman with protection. Or just have a small fire in your hair. I even used to play around with ethanol that I put i my hand and put on fire for a second or so. What is mean is, it's quite reasonable to say that you can catch a cold from being cold, if this by whatever means increases your chance of getting cold. Commonly speaking. – Alex – 2016-03-19T15:01:57.890

    We can continue this intensely pointless conversation for a while longer. Stuntmen aren't on fire, their protective suits/gels are. Same with your ethanol example, and your hair. You can catch the common cold from being cold -- no one has ever argued otherwise -- but it's factually wrong to say that being cold causes the common cold. Not really any discussion to be had about that, since the cold is caused by a virus, not by temperatures. You can live on the north pole your whole life and never catch a cold. – Vegard – 2016-03-19T15:34:53.633

    @Buzz - actually, cold can contribute to lowered immune response against cold viruses. (I actually found more recent research to support that but didn't have time to edit it into that answer yet)

    – user3143 – 2016-03-28T17:44:08.740


    I agree with the answers given, for the most part. At 8, the child is probably not under-dressing to make a fashion statement. The worst thing that might happen is someone is left lugging around an extra layer (isn't that partly what parents are for? ;)) and everyone learns. Eventually stop lugging around the layers.

    It's important to respect a child's decisions. If she was mistaken and wants her coat back, and you point it out to her, you should consider applying the same principle to yourself and admit when she was right. That's one way of showing respect. (If you don't point out her mistakes, you can give yourself the same slack for minor things.)

    Finally, the worst thing that might happen is not a cold or pneumonia. People might be uncomfortable when chilled, but it doesn't make them ill. This is an old old-wives tale, taking many forms: don't go out into the cold while it's raining, or without a hat, with wet hair, without a warm coat or scarf, without boots, etc., "or you'll catch your death of cold."

    If this is why your wife wants more layers, not less, you can tell her the following:

    This has been studied extensively. A New York Times article describes one such uncomfortable-sounding study:

    In the 1950's, Chicago researchers repeated the experiment on a larger scale with several hundred volunteers sitting in their socks and underwear in a 60-degree room before being inoculated with infectious mucus. Others, in coats, hats and gloves, spent two hours in a large freezer. The conclusion: all 253 chilled volunteers caught cold at exactly the same rate as 175 members of a warm control group.

    In other words, being cold had no effect on catching a cold.

    A 1968 experiment studied the effect of (among other methods of chilling) a cold water bath at several stages during and after inoculation with rhinovirus (one of the many viruses responsible for the common cold). No effect.

    Yet the studies continue, because anything shown to decrease the incidence of the common cold would be beneficial to the sufferers, as in the US alone, 75 to 100 million physician visits are due to the common cold, and millions of days are lost from school and work.

    But what has never been proven is that getting chilled in any way causes one to come down with a cold.

    'You'll Catch Your Death!' An Old Wives' Tale? Well...
    Exposure to Cold Environment and Rhinovirus Common Cold — Failure to Demonstrate Effect
    Acute cooling of the body surface and the common cold


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 48 167

    @AdamDavis - Fair enough. But as about 1/10 does add something new to the actual question asked, I don't see a problem. The rest is just information (as in this answer which does much more than answer the question.) The larger point is to help people who might have the same question in the future and want to know more as well.

    – anongoodnurse – 2016-03-14T15:28:08.447

    3@AdamDavis And yet, it is an awesome answer: covering why it isn't harmful for the child to be a bit cold is important to justifying why the child should be allowed to be a bit cold. Saying "let the child be a bit cold" without justification is a worse answer than saying why it is acceptable. – Yakk – 2016-03-14T15:30:14.200

    7It's important to respect a child's decisions.... Actually it's the other way around... it's important for the child to respect the parent's decisions. That's no excuse for the parent offering bad advice, etc. but I find that today's parents put way too much stock in letting their children make bad decisions. Having said that, my general rule is you can wear whatever you want but you better not complain about being cold (and I'm not carrying your coat around in case you change your mind). :) I generally try to let my kids make their own decisions until they prove to me they can't. – JeffC – 2016-03-14T19:22:17.203

    2@JeffC - I think historically the expectation has been as you say, and of course this should happen. However, historically it has not always been a two-way street, and I think that has resulted in some significant damage. I don't think we're in wildly differing camps. – anongoodnurse – 2016-03-14T19:52:53.767

    It's not clear where that quote comes from. Is it found at one of the links at the bottom? Which one? That quote is also confusing. One group is in 60 degrees with little clothing, the other is in a freezer with a lot of clothing. Which one is the cold group? Reading again I guess there are three groups? Where's the little clothes in the cold group? That would be the one relevant to this discussion. – DCShannon – 2016-03-15T01:32:32.423

    @DCShannon - Yes, that was from the NYT article, I believe. I wrote that part of this answer for another site. The quote is not complete. This is not a science site, where the evidence would be presented more formally. The evidence for further reading is in the links. – anongoodnurse – 2016-03-15T01:42:18.480

    I'm not concerned with formal presentation of evidence. There are two matters: clearly citing quotations and using evidence to support an argument. – DCShannon – 2016-03-15T01:47:41.250

    5@JeffC: Unless you can explain to them in a way that makes sense why they should respect the parent's decisions but not somebody else's arbitrary decisions, that's setting them up to be harmed by others who assert authority. – R.. – 2016-03-15T02:07:13.850

    8I'd both agree and disagree with @JeffC. The most difficult and important thing is to get a child to respect your decisions and the most effective way to do it (as well as not over-arguing with them when the decision is made) is, I think, to respect theirs when it doesn't really matter so much (like here). That way, not only do they start to think of it as a two-way street, but they also understand when you flat-out reject something that it's important, and not just fussing (which I think kids are quite good at detecting). Mutuality and emotional-range, I reckon, are the things I find useful. – Dan Sheppard – 2016-03-15T03:05:19.907

    I think I overinterpreted the use of the word "respect". I think many parents today let their kids do whatever they want because they don't want to "stifle" them or just don't have the backbone to stand up to them. I taught my kids to respect others no matter their age but especially adults or those in positions of authority such as teachers, friends' parents and so on. @R.. I don't know how you are going to explain to a young child how to differentiate between adults that are trying to assert authority vs not. Many adults can't do this. – JeffC – 2016-03-15T18:11:28.593

    @DanSheppard I agree with you. I generally let my kids make some decisions at an early age while trying to guide them in making smart decisions. I try to explain the why of why I would choose X over Y vs. you should do it my way. I think that's important and it helps them feel empowered and teaches them how to make their own decisions in a safe environment. But at times when they don't understand, I have to make the decision for them. That's part of being a parent and (hopefully) an adult. I'm not perfect but I do have more life experience which hopefully help me make better decisions. – JeffC – 2016-03-15T18:15:26.443

    @JeffC - From what you say above, my suspicion that we are not far apart in ideology was confirmed. I don't know why "respect" in my answer was equated with "lack of parenting". – anongoodnurse – 2016-03-15T19:59:56.637

    I would say that I misinterpreted your use of the word "respect." I didn't disagree with your post, in fact I upvoted if that makes you feel better... :) – JeffC – 2016-03-15T20:03:28.000

    1@JeffC - haha! Thanks! ;) – anongoodnurse – 2016-03-15T20:05:08.723


    I used to get into this argument with my 8 year old, especially when dressing for school. My argument was, "Just take the coat. If you don't need it, you don't have to wear it." Under cross-examination, it emerged that the school had a policy of requiring the children to wear any outdoor clothing they brought with them. This caused the children to underdress for fear of being too warm at lunchtime. (In Canada, you often get a big temperature rise at noon, especially in the spring and fall).

    So sometimes there is a reason for the refusal.

    With toddlers, I would let them not wear the coat, but bring it along for the inevitable moment when they realized how cold it was. If it's sunny, dry and there is no wind, you can step outside into -25 weather and not realize how cold it is. Not at first, anyway .... One only needs to do this once or twice before they figure it out.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 289

    1"Under cross-examination, it emerged that the school had a policy of requiring the children to wear any outdoor clothing they brought with them. " That sounds like an absurd and utterly ridiculous policy. Why would this exist? – None – 2016-03-16T06:16:33.813

    2Such a policy would exist to prevent children from losing said clothing. I'm not endorsing or defending it, but I do understand it. – João Mendes – 2016-03-16T11:59:35.493

    4Such a policy would also stop angry calls from parents: I sent little Jimmy to school with a coat; why the hell wasn't he wearing it? – John Gordon – 2016-03-16T17:44:23.620

    This is a true report. I was asked to send WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS to a kindergarten teacher that my four year old was capable of deciding whether or not a scarf should be tied across her face holding her hood tight to her head. "You send it, we send them home in it" said the teacher with apparently no idea that 8am and 3pm are typically not the same temperature. I wrote the note. I was the odd parent, not for the last time. – Chrys – 2016-05-19T13:22:47.340


    The rule at my house was "You don't have to wear them, but you have to bring them with you." This started in grade one or two. My boys abided by this, and often changed their minds about wearing them en route. This was a low consequence decision that set the standard for snow pants, touques, winter boots, etc.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 59


    In short: from the time that your child can argue "Putting on more clothes makes me feel discomfort ".

    As long as the argument is only of the category "I cannot be bothered" your concern for their well-being trumps their argument that they "just dont wanna". But from the time they say "Seriously mom/dad, I'm overheating and sweat because of all this!", then you are obligated to take it into consideration.

    When they can argue their case, you should listen and weigh it in.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 500


    Backing your wife up is much more significant than whether your child wears a coat. Be a team. Don't set yourselves up as alternative sources of truth.

    Your wife may be right or wrong about whether the child needs more clothes, but since it's not life-or-death, once she's voiced the opinion the best thing you can do is to back her up. Say to the child "I think your mum is right, it is cold, so a coat is a good idea", or "I think your mum is right, you should eat your dinner", or "I think your mum is right, you should get into your car seat".


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 137

    1I'd probably agree about the alternate sources of truth - although possibly learning to choose who to ask to get the desired answer is important for child development too. – Phil Lello – 2016-03-17T18:26:28.297

    This is probably worth another question, but one I'd need to ask anonymously :) – Benjol – 2016-03-21T05:55:04.153


    Even as an adult, I find it hard to select the right amount to wear outside, especially if I take a long walk. Even in cold weather, I can go out for a few minutes to take out the trash, for example, without starting to get cold. When I go out for a long walk on a cold day I may be comfortable at first in warm outerwear and then after a while start to overheat from exertion and get sweaty.

    So children and adults may feel fine for the first few minutes outside in inside clothing. Then they may start to feel cold and want warmer outerwear. Then after playing for a while they may start to overheat and want to take off their outer layer of clothing. But if they already sweat before they take off the outer clothing their sweat may start to freeze on their skin. So ideally people who go outside for a while may need to plan for all three or four stages (and maybe later stages) of reacting to cold temperatures.

    So perhaps adults could remind older children that how comfortable they feel playing outside is going to change as they spend longer time outdoors.

    And if a kid says they feel comfortable and warm now, tell them that of course they feel comfortable and warm now because they are in the warm house, and they won't feel that comfortable and warm once they are outside for a few minutes and cool off.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 21


    I am a terrible judge of warmth because I have thyroid issues. So I tend to personally run hotter or colder than those around me. As such, once a child can talk I trust them to tell me how they feel because I can't assess it for anyone else. Half the time I even change so that I can go from feeling excessively cold to excessively hot in a relatively short time. Sometimes I will bring along other clothing if traveling, other times, if I know that leaving is possible, I do not, so they can learn that if they don't bring a jacket, it may mean we go home. By the time mine have hit about age 5 I am done policing this for them. My youngest is 3 so I still have clothing in the car for her at all times. I even do this simply because she is prone to having other accidents (like spilling a whole drink on herself), so keeping warm clothes & a change of clothes in the car is just something I do until they are about 4yrs old or so.

    I can recall my mother saying "Put some clothes on, you make me cold just looking at you" since I was very young. That logic made no sense to me. I wasn't cold. I allow my kids to dress as they please & then I find they sort out how to self regulate. When it comes to being cold, I find kids are often less cold than adults because they are so much more active than we are & just like we may have a jacket on when we start yard work & then remove it as we get hot from the exertion, I think kids are almost always exerting more than we are and it likely is why they are seldom as chilly as we are. I see this like I see trusting them that they eat enough. I have had some children that eat all day long it seams & others that eat like birds & all ran about the same weight. I think they know themselves if we don't interfere.

    As for when it is very very cold here (which happens), I haven't so far run into children that will not listen to me about how warm to dress (like when we go sledding). Perhaps because I have allowed them to wear as they wish the rest of the time, they trust me when I tell them that it will be too cold & we will have to leave early if they don't dress adequately. You can always remove a scarf or your hat to cool down, you cannot make those items appear out of thin air if you left them home & are now far too cold to enjoy yourself.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 6 404


    There's no cutoff age. It depends on the child.

    Two things to bear in mind:

    Firstly, children have a wide a variety of intellectual and emotional differences. If you're 16-year-old refuses to demonstrate a working knowledge of cold-induced conditions and their symptoms, his opinion is largely irrelevant. Defer to your own opinion as the adult.

    But, if your 8-year-old can comprehend and demonstrate a working knowledge of the effects and symptoms of being too cold (e.g., frostbite and hypothermia symptoms), you can trust them to an extent. Just bear in mind, children have a particular high tendency to hyper-focus on their play and fail to notice their bodily signals. You'll often need to pay attention for them.

    If your child hasn't yet demonstrated an ability to keep track of their bodily signals (cold hands, blue lips, shivering), you need to be calling the shots -- and probably checking on them with regularity proportional to the coldness.

    There's no defined age-cutoff at which a person is suddenly intellectually and emotionally mature enough to understand what "too cold" is. Lots of "adults" get frostbite and hypothermia every winter. And lots of young children manage not to.

    Secondly, cold tolerance differs greatly between people. From "how long does it take to get frostbite or hypothermia" (Business Insider):

    Surprisingly, hypothermia can occur at any temperature lower than normal body temperature. Factors like body fat, age, alcohol consumption, and especially wetness can affect how long hypothermia takes to strike.

    Emphasis is mine.

    Whether you feel or don't feel cold can be pretty irrelevant to whether your child is OK. This applies to being too cold and too warm. You really need to keep an eye on the signs and learn your child's tolerances. And, per the first point, you need to be responsible for the monitoring activity until your child demonstrates they're able to.

    Anecdotally, my oldest son, can play outside on calm, 40-ish (F) degree days and come back feeling fine, with incredibly warm hands, lips, face, etc.. My oldest daughter, has a higher metabolism and is much leaner and seemingly more muscular. If it's below 60 F., she generally needs to wear a jacket or she'll come back in with freezing hands and blue lips.

    But, neither one of them consistently recognize the need for a jacket.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 107

    Why the downvotes? – svidgen – 2016-04-01T13:53:38.963


    I live in the Northeast so winter clothing is something I take very seriously. My daughter is currently in the sixth grade, and has to walk over a half an hour to get to school. Every winter she tried to fight me on winter clothing and every winter I hold firm. The lows have already hit the 30s so we've been having to bundle up. We've been wearing our winter coats, warm boots, scarves, hats, etc. In the winter snowpants are a must for my daughter if she's outside for a long time. I also make her wear her hood up and add several heavier layers.

    She thinks it's cool to be underdressed so naturally shes against all this winter clothing. As long as she lives under my roof I will be making sure she is dressed properly for the cold weather.

    Amy K.

    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 1

    I'm not sure this totally answers the question though. I understand where you're coming from; however, this question is more addressing when (at what age) that complaint should be listened to. – L.B. – 2016-11-09T13:05:12.197


    I have a 14 year old and a 12 year old. Both of them have to wear winter coats and other winter gear if they're going outside during the winter.


    Posted 2016-03-14T09:12:20.403

    Reputation: 1

    Please expand your answer otherwise it risks being deleted. – Joe_74 – 2017-07-12T10:52:49.627