December 18, 2016/Children's Health

Need to Convince Your Teen to Wear a Coat? Here’s How

Help your adolescent make a good decision about weather protection

Need to Convince Your Teen to Wear a Coat? Here's How

When the temperatures outside dip below freezing, it may seem like a no-brainer for you to reach for that warm coat, hat and gloves. Then you see your teenager bounding out the door wearing just a hoodie — or maybe even shorts.

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As many parents of adolescents know, battles can ensue at the suggestion that your teens bundle up. You tell them to put on a coat; they insist they are fine without one.

Being the decider

Adolescence is a time where teens want to make their own decisions. And, yes, that includes whether to wear a jacket when there’s thick icicles hanging from the roof.

Trouble is, teens often make decisions that use faulty logic. They may think coats are uncool and fussy or they don’t want to have to worry about keeping track of it. Those considerations may, in their minds, outweigh the comfort of keeping warm.

Add to this the fact that colds are caused by viruses, and not by feeling cold, and many parents are tempted to throw up their hands and give in.

Is this an argument worth winning? Or should you simply chill out?

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Keeping your teen warm

Children of all ages need to be kept warm, regardless of their insistence on leaving the house wearing just a hoodie when it’s freezing cold, says pediatrician Kimberly Giuliano, MD.

“Older children and adolescents do tend to push the limits, and sometimes parents feel that they need to give in,” she says. “But it really is important for children of all ages to be kept warm when the temperatures outside are below freezing. The risk of frostbite is our most significant concern.”

Rather than nagging your teen, belittling their choice or playing the authority card, Dr. Giuliano recommends talking to your teen about the importance of staying warm, staying healthy and remaining injury-free. Tell your teens about the effects of frostbite and how quickly it can set.

For example, frostbite could occur as rapidly as in 10 minutes when skin is exposed to temps that are 10 degrees below zero.

It’s important for your teen to know where you stand on the issue, she says. Understanding the reasons behind your concern may increase the likelihood of them throwing on another layer.

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You also could invite your teen to help you come up with a temperature rule: When the mercury falls below a certain number, a coat and/or hat is mandatory and wearing shorts outside is out. These sort of in-advance mutually-agreed-on rules can avoid debate on the subjective issue of whether it’s cold outside at the exact moment when your teen is preparing to leave the house.

Another way to get your teen to dress winter-appropriate is to make shopping for and purchasing a winter coat an enjoyable experience, Dr. Giuliano says. Try to find a coat your teen likes and that you know will provide protection against the elements.

“Take your child shopping and find a coat that you can mutually agree on,” she says. “A coat that meets your teen’s cool-factor as well as your warmth requirements will probably be your best bet for mutual buy-in.”

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