Showing versus telling in battle of getting dressed

I don't need no stinkin jacket, I got a tattoo

Here in Portland we have been in full on wintery mix for the last two weeks. Sometimes it snows, other times it rains, but it’s always cold. Each morning I have to get one or both of the boys to school so we have same discussion minutes before heading out the door: “Grab a coat boys, it’s cold out today” “But daddy I don’t want to wear a coat, I want freeze on my arms.” I know that as we walk from the car to Primo’s class room the boys are going to be whiny little punks because they are so cold so I fight the battle right there and make them put on a coat.

This morning I was thinking about it as we headed towards our lockers to bundle up for the trip. I told the boys it was cold out, opened the door to let them feel it, and then told them i thought they should put on a warm coat. Primo grabbed a sweater and a coat but Segundo ran outside to find his bike in his quarter sleeves. Without getting frustrated I reminded him that it was cold out and that I would not be giving up my jacket or toque so he needed to be sure. He’s four years old so he’s sure about everything until he changes his mind so off to school we went with no extra covering.

He was cold on the walk to school. He cried and whined and pleaded for my hat to put his hands in to keep warm. I didn’t let him have it. Lessons were being taught, impression being made for next time. I felt bad for him and thought I should have brought a bail out jacket stashed in the car for this kind of situation but the cold wasn’t going to kill him. We were only out in the elements for a couple of minutes, just long enough for the lesson to sink in I hope. We will see what happens tomorrow when it’s time to gather our things for the trip to school. Maybe four is too young for lessons like that to be taught and retained but when I think of the type of kids that I want to raise it seems important. I want boys who make good decisions on their own and not just because some one makes them do things. I try to always come back to that picture of the adults I hope my boys become when evaluating parenting decisions.

  3 comments for “Showing versus telling in battle of getting dressed

  1. 03/22/2012 at 8:12 am

    Good job, James! That little face makes me smile.

  2. 03/22/2012 at 8:42 am

    You are letting him assert his independence while learning that there are consequences to actions. And you are also teaching him to trust you, both by what you suggest (you need a coat) and by following through with your threat (you’re not borrowing mine). My kid kept kicking his shoes off in the car. Every time we went somewhere. Finally, I just let him walk from the car to the house in his socks. Of course he hated feeling the little pebbles and things under his feet, but I think he understood why to keep them on. I’ll be interested to hear how the conversation goes for you tomorrow.
    An Ordinary Dad´s last blog post ..Work?! What’s That?

  3. Jamie
    03/22/2012 at 10:11 am

    Good job James. Too many times parents give in but natural consequences are the best lessons!! Honestly they sink in much better.

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