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When Winter is Shorts Weather for Kids

When Winter is Shorts Weather for Kids

By Wendi Aarons

Before I had children, I used to see a kid dressed inappropriately for cold weather and sneer, “What is wrong with his mother? Why didn’t she make him wear a jacket?” But now that I have children, I know the answers to those questions: “Nothing” and “Because she finally gave up.”

Yes, I am the not-so-proud owner of an 11-year-old boy who refuses to wear pants in the winter. He (very strongly) insists on wearing shorts year-round, even when the temperature is only in the high 20’s. We live in Austin, Texas, so we don’t have many super cold days, but we still have enough to cause household conflict in the mornings. Nothing like a pants fight at 6:30 a.m. to get your heart rate going! Whee!

I thought I was winning the game this year when my son willingly went to the mall with me and picked out a few pairs of jeans. “These will look great at school!” I remember saying. He enthusiastically replied, “You’re right! Thanks so much for taking care of my health and well-being, mother! I so appreciate you!” Or at least that’s how I interpreted his tween shrug when he glanced up from his iPad game for 1.2 seconds. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Unfortunately, the jeans haven’t had much use because he claims they make it “hard to walk.” To illustrate his point, he’s even been known to collapse dramatically on the floor like a mummy in a horror movie. A few times I’ve suggested that he wear athletic pants like his brother so he’ll be able to walk better, but that idea was also squashed. The definition of insanity? Asking your tween day after day to wear pants and expecting a different result.

So, after weeks of fighting, I’ve finally decided to just let him wear shorts. I justify it by the fact that he only stands outside for less than 10 minutes waiting for the bus (Neighbor who has a kindergartener: “Oh, are you the mom of the boy who is always in shorts?” Yes, yes, I am, and get back to me in about six years when your precious baby’s a tween, lady). He then spends the rest of the day indoors because our slightly wussy school doesn’t let the kids go outside for recess if it’s below 40 degrees. But more than that, I’ve also come to the point where I think he’s old enough to deal with the consequences of his decisions.

“Let him wear shorts and get cold,” I told my husband one chilly morning. “This is called ‘tough love’.”

“Fine by me,” he answered. “I know I could go a day or two without hearing you scream, ‘PUT ON PANTS BEFORE I PUT THEM ON FOR YOU!’’”

It’s the end of January now and so far, my son hasn’t caved and switched back to pants. And that’s okay, I guess. He’s not going to die from goose bumps. You can’t really get sick from cold weather. I also felt better about my decision when I read this article that discussed how common winter shorts wearing is with boys, as well as offering scientific evidence that they really might not be cold when they say they’re not cold. Huh.

I still believe in that well-known saying of a mother telling her kids, “I’m cold. Go put on a sweater,” but I’m going to let my tween make up his own mind this winter. Just promise me that you won’t ask “What’s wrong with his mother?” when you see him at the bus stop.

Take our poll below.  Let us know if you’re in the same boat.  Do your kids insist on dressing inappropriately for the weather?

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Published January 28, 2015. Last updated January 28, 2015.
About the Author

Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at Wendi Aarons, The Mouthy Housewives or starting fistfights near the 70% off rack at Target.

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  • Nicole

    January 28, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    They don’t let your kid out at his school at 40°F? Seriously? I live in Canada where they let kids out at 4°F nevermind 40°F, lol! And in Canada its not uncommon to see kids out in cool weather in shorts or in pants and no jacket. I regularily see boys in shorts at temps just above freezing.

    • Wendi

      January 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      I know, I know. I grew up in North Dakota, so I get it. But it’s not the kids who don’t want to go outside, it’s the teachers. 🙂

  • Mythanh

    January 28, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    My 11 year-old has autism…and getting him to dress appropriately has always been a challenge. He mostly struggles with season changes. Changing from shorts to pants and back again – it takes a while. The worst thing about living in North Texas is the inconsistency of the weather. I’d been fighting him to wear a coat, not a windbreaker, during our 20 degree days last month. Yesterday I tried (unsuccessfully) to get him to wear a long sleeve shirt at the park since it was almost 80. I haven’t given up completely just yet. If the weather would just cooperate, I’d appreciate it. M’kay?

    • Wendi

      January 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Exactly! It’s 80 degrees in Austin today, but will be in the 30’s in a couple of days. Then back up to the 80’s.

  • Sherri

    January 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Perfect. And I loved the  ‘PUT ON PANTS BEFORE I PUT THEM ON FOR YOU!”

  • Robin

    January 28, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    I have an almost 9-year old who, because of a minor sensory flip out when the cold metal of a button touched her she was 3, completely refuses to wear buttons.  Yes, even decorative ones.  So that means no jeans, no khakis, no slacks.  Luckily she’s a girl so she has yoga pants and leggings as options.  But it is 1) frustrating and 2) ridiculous in the cold of the northeast.  I finally gave up, bought wool-lined boots and just let her feel the consequences of her choices.   This kid seems like mine – it’s a choice made on sensory issues exacerbated by never getting used to the thing he thinks is the problem.  Sometimes you just have to let them be.

  • Stephanie

    January 29, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Eh.  He won’t suffer any real harm.  I gave up trying to get my kids to dress for the weather a couple of years ago.  Last week, when it was in the frigid lower teens here, my daughter refused to wear a coat over her assigned band uniform for a concert.  The uniform is a long sleeved, scoop-necked dress.  And she wore flat shoes with bare legs.  When she complained about being cold on the walk back to the car after the concert, I just reminded her that she chose not to wear a coat.  I did get a side-eye from my parents, though.  They must have forgotten about the whole picking your battles thing.  So not worth the fight.  And, living here in the frigid North, I laughed at the 40 degree cut-off.  40 feels tropical in January!  That’s when we start commenting on how “warm” it is!  All relative, I know.