Ask Dr. Marla: Dressing for Colder Weather

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Q
Every Fall we have the same situation with our 10-year old son: he refuses to acknowledge the change in the weather and start wearing a coat. Is it unhealthy for kids to be under dressed for the weather, or am I working myself up for nothing?

A. Exposure to viruses and bacteria is what leads to respiratory illness, not lack of clothing. You note that every Fall your son refuses to acknowledge the change in weather, and here he is, ready for another Fall and none the worse for it! This, too, is likely not worth the power struggle. Make sure he takes a sweater or coat with him, much the same way he takes lunch and his books to school. If he gets cold, he will put it on. It’s possible that at age 10, he burns calories – something called thermogenesis – at a higher basal metabolic rate than adults. In addition he could be starting a growth spurt and he needs a coat less than you do.
Boys are often “experience based” learners. That means if he goes outside without boots when it’s raining and his feet get wet, he is likely to seek boots the next go round to avoid the same experience. On occasion, consequences are the best teacher.

Click here to submit your question for consideration by Dr. Marla.

Published in October, 2010.

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