I have to say, it’s a good thing I have the opportunity to talk to lots of parents on a regular basis, if for no other reason than because I’m able to reassure myself that I’m not the only parent having conversations like this one:
Me: “You can’t wear shorts today.”
Child who shall go nameless: “Why not?”
Me: “It’s winter, and it’s too cold outside for shorts.”
Child (still wearing shorts): “So?! I’m not cold.”
Me: “It’s not just a little cold. It’s frigid outside. As in snow temperature. As in it’s sub-zero wind chill and like the arctic tundra outside. Now go change!”
Child (still not changing): “But mom, WHY?!”
Me: “Because I give people parenting advice for a living, and if you don’t, you’ll make me look bad, so end of discussion – go change!”
I have to admit that there’s some irony to me telling my children to change into long pants or go put on a winter coat. After all, I grew up in the Midwest and I was actually known all throughout college for not wearing a coat – even when walking outdoors between classes during winters spent at the University of Michigan. In fact, last winter I passed a college friend on the streets of NYC who I hadn’t seen in almost a decade. He later told me that the only reason he hadn’t stopped me to say hello was because I was wearing a coat, so he figured it couldn’t possibly be me!
Okay, so now I’ve owned up to my own history of dressing inappropriately for the cold weather. But that doesn’t change anything when it comes to the parenting advice I’m about to share with you. The fact of the matter is that cold weather (like what we get here in Nebraska) can be dangerous, young children are especially susceptible to the cold, and it’s our duty as parents to insure our children’s health and safety in warm and cold weather alike. While it’s not actually true (except in more extreme instances) that being cold makes you “catch a cold,” there are definitely instances such as hypothermia and frostbite that most certainly can result from being inappropriately dressed for the weather.
With this in mind, the following information, excerpted from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Winter Safety Tips, will hopefully help you better determine which cold-weather clothing battles are worth fighting. Don’t let it deter you if your children try to give you the cold shoulder after you lay down the law. Instead of resorting to “because I said so,” you too can feel free to justify your “request” that your child go put his shorts away until at least March (if not May) by simply saying, “Because Dr. Laura and the American Academy of Pediatrics say so!”
- Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat
- The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions
- Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to colder temperatures. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults
- Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.