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Let them eat cake and be cold!

"Give them choices you can live with and let them make those choices, so long as they doesn't pose danger to themselves or others."  I believe I picked this up at a free series of Love & Logic workshops we once attended at our former school.

Well, this morninCupcakeg, I let them eat cake.  I know, I know: bad mama!  Cake for breakfast?  But, hey, we had a big birthday party yesterday and I can't bear to have the cake go to waste (anyone want a piece of St. Cupcake 4-layer chocolate cake with buttercream frosting?).  My husband kept saying, "You're letting them eat cake for breakfast?"  Well, sure.  "It's probably not as bad for them as a cinnamon roll from the bakery..."  This cake probably has a little less sugar.  So, I gave them the choice: oatmeal or cake.  They chose cake.  No one is surprised.

I also took out a stack of fleeces and jackets and vests for them to choose their method of warmth for the grey fall morning.  Girl 1 chose a fleece sweatshirt and Girl 2  chose a cotton sweatshirt (on top of heGrey_dayr sleeveless short sundress).  I urged Girl 1 to also layer a fluffy vest and Girl 2 to also layer a jacket on top of their sweatshirts.  They refused.  I shivered a shiver for them each.  Both sockless, they hopped on the Xtracycle and we rode down to school.  A few minutes into the ride, I asked them, "Are you cold?"  They each said, "Well, sort of."  I said, "Do you think you should have worn thicker jackets or socks?"  They said emphatically, "NO!"

Tomorrow will be the same negotiation, I think.  We probably won't offer cake again, though.  How do you handle choices, especially, the fight over jackets, socks, hats, or gloves?  If my Girl 2 wants to wear sundresses with no tights or socks or shirts for the rest of the autumn and into winter, should I just say, "OK!  It's your choice!"??   

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My 4-year-old is all about dresses at the moment. With the weather cooling down in these mid-40s mornings, the choice has been a dress with warm-ish tights or a shirt and pants (jacket non-negotiable). She chooses the dress every time.

The "choices" technique can be hard when I'm not feeling creative or feel there's no real alternative to give. One way around that is to explain the ground rule to your child ("you have to stay warm") and ask them what they think a good choice is. More than once she's come up with a perfectly acceptable alternative that hadn't occurred to me. She gets the satisfaction of having solved the problem her way, and I get the satisfaction of the problem being solved.

I use a lot of choices and consequences with my girls and I am really a fan of this method because it teaches them responsibility and it avoids a lot of arguments and power struggles.

My girls tend to overheat and tend to dislike bundling up with layers and I've been quite permissive about allowing them to choose how to dress and to feel cold if they haven't dressed warmly enough (they are 2 and 4 years old). We are mostly exposed to outdoor weather on our way from the car to the door of where we're going, so it's usually not a big deal to feel a bit cold. I do insist that my girls have a coat (with a hood) with them.

At the end of winter last year, I changed my thinking on this slightly, because a early childhood teacher pointed out to me that kids don't always monitor their internal temperature carefully and might not realize that they are cold until they are actually too cold. I'm still not overly worried about cold weather, because, afterall this is Portland and the weather is relatively mild, but I do say that if we're outside for more than 5 minutes in the cold that they have to put a coat on.

As for cake for breakfast, I'm all for it!

P.S. Another thought about coats--I encourage my girls NOT to wear their coats while in the car because they are more securely strapped into their carseats without coats--we keep a couple of fleece blankets in the car to snuggle in AFTER all the buckling in is done.

I've come to figure out I'm the Mom, and the boys are going to wear coats if I say so. That's really all there is to it. I'm all for the "choices" method, but they don't get a choice about everything. My boys are 5 and almost 3, they still need me to tell them what to do sometimes. And frankly, for the rest of their lives they may not always get choices and may have to do things they don't want to do, so they can start to get a little taste of that now.

That's not to say I don't give them a choice on coats; I pick out two coats (or layering pieces, etc.) I think are weather-appropriate and they get to pick which one they want. Granted, I don't have the whole skirt, socks, stockings, leggings issue, but my older son would love nothing more than to wear shorts and tees for the rest of his life, so I have a feel for that.
And, in all fairness, most days I pick him up from school, he's taken off the sweatshirt I made him there, but at least he can always put it back on. :)

I tend to think a little like KMat. I'm the mom and I sometimes I do know best. So, some things aren't negotiable, but within the boundary lines I've drawn there are always choices. My son, who wanted to wear warm cord pants all summer now refuses to choose anything but shorts! If we're going out in the cold morning, it has to be long pants. But if we're in, he's welcome to the shorts. He's also into wearing his rain boots everywhere these days after not wearing them all last winter in the rain. So, I make him throw his tennis shoes in the bag if we're going somewhere I think he may want them. If it's a short sleeve shirt he wants, he has to put a long over it until it warms up and then he can take it off. I will say I'm open to hearing him plead his case and will reconsider my position if it makes sense because sometimes he has an option that's just as good and one I haven't thought of.

While I operate on giving choices whereever I can, I've found that there are occasions where they just can't have the choices they want. The natural consequence isn't always one I want to have happen. And given that these are rare, I don't get alot of grief about it because I use this adult privilege so infrequently. If it were always my way or the highway, it would probably be more challenging.

oh, and cake for breakfast? I'm there sister! Although I probably would have made them eat some protein with it as well! Sausage and cake perhaps?

What is the difference between cake and pancakes? One has sugar on the inside, one on the outside. Cake for breakfast? Only if it is chocolate...maybe some raspberry filling for fruit. Protein? Aren't there eggs in cake???

cake is certainly *my* choice for breakfast! I like to look at food by the week, not the meal or the day -- if you've got the roughly right "food pyramid" shape by the end of the week, you're good to go :)

as for the sockless thing? as I've been devouring Love & Logic this week I'm firmly in the "let them make their own choices unless safety's on the line" camp. are they going to lose a toe without socks in this weather? nope. let them make the choices when they're safe and figure out the consequences on their own. but you know that, hehe :)

I'm currently on the other end of the spectrum with Everett -- he'll pick his turtleneck and heaviest sweat pants to wear and I'll keep asking, "are you hot? you're hot, right? are you hot yet?" and he'll keep saying "no!" ahh well. I'm not in his skin so that's a safe choice for him to make the way I see it. now, I might pack a t-shirt in case he wants to change later, but that's a great thing for him to control, while I reign supreme over TV, computer games, and bedtime.

I read somewhere about children actually having an excellent ability to regulate their body temperatures without a lot of extra clothing--that most often, parents bundle up children too warmly, interfering with that ability and perhaps contributing to tendencies towards childhood obesity. I can also report that I used to live in Japan where in many rural elementary schools, the children go around all winter in very skimpy uniforms with short pants/skirts and no warm coats, and it's only the adults who seem to be freezing in the unheated classrooms. Has anyone else read about this phenomenon? I'm interested to know more about it.

Love and Logic has worked so well for our family.
One way to keep the child choosing and keep the coat involved would be: Would you like to wear your coat or carry your coat?

you may consider the "would you like to wear your coat or carry it?" method of giving choices. it's a win win situation.
that bit about regulating body temp probably is true. i know my daughter is always warmer than i am. now that she's 4 1/2 i'm finally accepting that she's not just defying me by not bundling up.
and cake for breakfast - of course! preferably with a couple strips of bacon and coffee for me, milk for the daughter. mmmmmm.

You go Mama! Love Cake for breakfast! Love and Logic has been a saving grace with our 2 1/2 year old. He knows all about choices and time outs. We don't know a better way to avoid arguments, senseless negotiations (Mother knows best with a 2 year old!? Forget it!) and tantrums. And I find it liberating to watch him make choices and suffer the consequences....being a little cold is a lot better than crashing the car when he's 16 as the book points out. The light comes on and he looks at Mommy or Daddy and realizes...they kind of know what they're talking about here, I'm not going to touch that hot pan again, etc. Unless life and limb are at risk, he gets a choice....or if he doesn't like his choices...time out. And some days are FULL of time-outs, but it feels so much better than arguing and those days are fewer and fewer. I highly reccommend this book for any parent looking for an effective, loving and respectful way to help you to communicate with your child.

The best thing about Oregon in the fall is getting away with odd layers, especially with cold mornings that become warm afternoons.
Socks will become necessary as the sandals go away for the winter, oops mama doesn't know where they went. Legwarmers and leggings are great for the in between early fall weather. Dresses with pants and shirts layered under/over=cute and practical. I know my daughter and I will both be rocking the 'Oregon Look' with long sleeve shirt, pants, dress, sweater, hat and coat all together and maybe even some crazy socks.
As far as the battle goes, I'd still offer a choice but one where both options are weather appropriate, socks vs.tights. When 'no' is not one of the options, it makes it easier on both of you.

I love Love & Logic too. One of the keys is not to bring up the consequence, or the solution. Trust that your child is smart enough to figure it out on their own and let them make the choice again tomorrow. You may ask are you feeling cold ? but leave it at that - just checking in. the best is probably to wait until they complain about the cold then ask them to come up with solutions or offer some that other kids have done - but I know that is sooooo hard! I manage to wait it out about 60% of the time :-)
Luckily it is Oregon and we have relatively mild winters. One day or even two of being cold will not hurt your child. The one I do when it gets colder is ask my ds if he wants to carry or wear his coat/mittens/ hat etc.. so it is with us.
As for cake one day won't hurt and you might ask them how well it stayed with them were they hungry before lunch ? I find sweets make me hungry much sooner. See if there was a consequence - or if it was fine then don't worry about it. One time makes it a fun childhood experience.

We've created a monster since sending Anders to Montessori school a few months ago...probably 5 of 7 mornings he comes out of his room at 6AM sharp, fully dressed (in some pretty hilarious outfits!) and headed straight for the kitchen for his milk. Since realizing he's enjoying his new independence and loves that he's able to get himself dressed all by himself, I moved all of his daily clothes to reachable levels in his closet--the bottom drawer had shorts and underwear for summer and now I've added several pairs of pants to the mix. And he's got lots of tshirts and long sleeves to choose from. 9 times out of 10 I'm ok with his choices, even if they are hysterical! My favorite had to be when he came out of my closet with a pair of my husband's biking socks pulled up to his knees--they were black with red chili peppers on them, and Anders had paired them with green and yellow Addidas shoes and an orange shirt! The first cold morning last week he was mad that he couldnt wear his Crocs...until I pointed out that it was ok with me as long as he had socks underneath...confrontation avoided.

Today was picture day at school, so I gave some suggestions last night and hung up a few shirts that I thought he should consider today...he sure does look adorable! But tomorrow I'm sure he'll be back to his favorite tacky combos and we'll be fine with it.

What a great mom you are! Not only are you teaching your sweet girls how to make good choices for themselves, but more importantly you're showing them how to live life with joy, health and gusto. What could be better than cake for breakfast and a bike ride with mom before school?

Yay, cake for breakfast! Every kid (and adult) should get the occational unexpected treat. When I was a kid, my mother wouldn't let me near junk food, and in a world of american cheese, balogna, and strawberry flavored quick mix, I had the lone carob rice crispie bar with my whole grain and natural peanut butter sandwich. Of course, I am a total sugar junkie now, and have been since I could scrape together two quarters and sneak out to the corner deli. Ah, forbidden fruit...
For Nova, I try to follow the "all things in moderation" principle.

I have the same dress issue with my almost four year old daughter as many of you. Dress everyday. No pants ever. Last winter, we spent many a morning arguing and ended up with the unfortunate compromise of tights, which she was not able to put on by herself and was always somewhat uncomfortable in.

This year I have in my arsonal an array of fabulous stretchy pants for layering under dresses, a routine of picking her clothes out together the night before, and a daughter who is a year older and wiser. On the few cold mornings we've had recently, my daughter has been completely amiable to pairing her favorite summer frocks with leggings and sweater with the promise that if it warms up later in the day, she can take them off. Hooray for progress!

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