There’s a sign outside the neighborhood elementary school that clarifies the school’s policy on taking off jackets at recess.  (It’s been balmy the last few days.)  Children in grades K-2 are to keep their jackets on, children in grades 3-5 may take them off.

I’ve watched many battles over jacket-wearing, and I don’t quite understand it.  When kids get cold, they usually (in the absence of actual thermostatic dysfunction, which the reading I’ve done suggests is extremely rare) act quickly.  And they’re not usually quiet about it.  Getting their needs met is not something children tend to take lightly.

So it’s a little strange that we decide to try to regulate their temperatures for them.  To me it seems like a recipe for not learning how to regulate various things for yourself in much the same way as scheduling meals and eating regardless of hunger can teach kids to eat when they don’t need to and shouldn’t.  We tell them they’ll be cold, if they don’t wear a jacket, though we have no idea how they’ll actually feel because their hormonal makeup is entirely different from ours. (As each of ours is from everyone else’s.)  They don’t get the chance to find out whether they’re hot or cold, how many layers they need, whether they need a jacket or not.

If it’s too warm to be wearing a coat, left to their own devices, kids know.  And similarly, if they’re too cold, they can put coats on.  We say these things, like “wear a coat or you’ll be cold,” with good intentions, but they don’t always hold up under inspection.  When kids resist, it’s worth a look to find out what the source of their resistance may be…


2 Responses

  1. It took me until my child was nearly three years old, but I finally came to this same conclusion a few weeks ago. I wish I had read this post in March 2010 when he was just 10 months old–it would have saved us at least a few minor battles and given my child the impression I have a bit of faith in him.

  2. We homeschool and for some years were involved in a learning co-op every Friday. The first year we were there, a mom came to talk to me about an issue she was having with my 8 yos.

    He wouldn’t put on his jacket for outside play.

    To which, I said, “then he must not be cold. If he is cold, he will put on his jacket.”

    This turned into a long discussion about how if he didn’t wear his jacket, then the other kids wouldn’t want to wear their jackets … and I just kept trying to get her to understand that if they are cold, they will wear their jackets.

    She thought I was crazy. LOL!

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