Winter is upon us! Are you dealing with the common challenge of struggling to get a coat on your protesting, squirming toddler? This can delay getting out the door on time and parents can feel exasperated and helpless.
It is important to remember that toddlers assert their autonomy by saying “no” to the wishes of their parents. They also rebel against being physically manipulated in any way. This is a necessary part of their “me” development but since they must wear a coat, what can you say and do when your two year old won’t put on her jacket?
Some children do well with your saying, “We have to go now. I will carry it for you until you need it” and then put their coat on in the lobby or once you’re just outside. However, for many children, that just delays the struggle and it is best to get the coat on inside your house before you go. You can distract your child with a toy, by talking about another topic that interests her or by singing a favorite song while putting on his coat, thereby avoiding a power struggle. Always focus on where you are going TO, rather than on the leaving.
If you have to put your child’s coat on and distraction doesn’t seem to be working, then put on his coat quickly and energetically, while remaining calm and talking to him in a reassuring tone about where you are going, what you will see on the way and get out the door as quickly as you possibly can. She will calm down after you get outside and start pushing the stroller.
Parents can feel that they are being aggressive while dressing a protesting toddler, but it is important to remember that he or she needs you to be in charge and is relieved when the struggle is over.