Jacket Fail: The Ongoing Oddysey of Winter Coat Meltdowns

Just when I think I have Sensory Processing Disorder under control, it rears its ugly head and reminds me who’s boss.

With the return of winter comes hats, gloves and the ever-feared winter coat.

We have made such phenomenal progress with Vman I naively believed we would coast into winter. SPD kindly slapped me across the face as a wake up call to realty.

I purchased a fun and fabulous jacket for Vman. It is black and has masculine red stripes under the arms.

The contraption also has a fleece that zips out to make it less bulky or warmer, depending on the day.

If this coat could talk, it would scream out, “I am the MAN!”

Instead, my son is the one screaming.

Every morning since it turned cold, Vman has had a complete screeching meltdown about how his jacket feels.

Part of me thinks, “Really, dude?

You’re six.

At this point you should know that yelling at me isn’t going to change a single thing.

Now shut up and put your damn coat on.

It’s freaking cold outside.”


Of course, those words don’t escape my mouth, but my sympathy is wearing thin.

The difference at six years old is Vman can now actually verbalize what is going on.

He can wail about how the jacket rides up.

He can howl about how the coat sleeves restrict his movement (compared to wearing a short-sleeved shirt).

He can yell at me about how much I suck for making him wear a straight jacket.


Amid all the drama, I know he’s being sincere and not just a jerk.

The problem is we live where the weather turns cold.

I’m just counting down the days ’til snow coats the landscape.

This isn’t a battle to be won by either of us. He needs to wear his coat.



So what is a mom to do?

Pull out the old reward system.

Talking hasn’t worked.

Reasoning hasn’t worked.

Patience hasn’t worked.

It’s time to move on to the next plan.


This morning I gave his younger brother, Hbomb, a quarter when the tyke pulled on his shoes and coat without a word.

Vman saw Hbomb’s behavior was rewarded and instantly calmed down.

With disappointment, he said he knew he wasn’t earning a quarter, and I said he could earn one tomorrow if he could put on his coat without a drama scene.

Once he pulled on the offending article, I praised him for making the smart choice.

Will it make a difference tomorrow?

Probably not.

But eventually he’ll get it.

Both of us have worked on getting him the tools to manage his sensory difficulties.

At the end of the day it’s not about erasing these issues.

It’s about helping him manage the day-to-day issues he has to confront.

Read more about Sensory Processing Disorder on Mommy Evolution.

Learn more about sensory challenges or to join our inclusive community on The Sensory Spectrum.


  1. I hear ya. I hate it when we get snow and I have to get Little Man (who’s not so little these days) to put on a winter coat, hat and mittens. Luckily, if I find a soft fleecy hat, he’ll wear it. But mittens or gloves never stay on for long. Getting older has brought more tolerance to winter coats. How does Vman do with layers? Perhaps a soft knit long sleeved shirt with a heavy fleece lined sweatshirt type jacket with a down vest on top? That would give him more arm mobility. And if you find them at a local thrift store, you won’t be out a lot of $ if he won’t wear them. (Got a fleece lined hoodie at Walmart the other day for $15, that my son loves.)

  2. I started taking my DD with me to feel, try on and pick out her own clothes and coats a couple years ago. We go alone, just me and her. I always make sure we have hours to spare. She touches and eventually tries on a few chosen ones and then usually settles with the one she feels best in. I, also, have sensory processing problems at 39 years old so I know what she is going through. It is helpful to buy something soft and a size bigger seems to not constrain my arms as much. Also, I try to steer away from collars for myself because it bunches at the back of my neck. It is really hard to drive when I have these things interfering and can ruin my day. It’s hard to refocus after a sensory attack by clothing. It’s best if his energies are spent on school work and just being in school than wasted on a coat. I’m slowly learning to pick our battles here and there are so many choices for winter wear that it is not one I fight. Often I can find a way around most of my sensory issues and my DD’s if I try. Be creative! Always remain calm(difficult I know).

  3. My kid’s issue is shoes. She has been barefoot at school, home, day camp, etc. for the past six months. It’s getting cold out. She literally kicks so hard and so fast that it is impossible to get shoes on her. Impossible. Like, people who specialize in special needs kids can’t even do it.

    No clue what we’re going to do.

    1. Have you experimented with foot massage as a pre-shoe sensory cue? She may like firm pressure using pressure points, small circular motions, and/or pressure using the palm or your hand against the top or bottom of her feet. Massage oil or her favorite lotion can be used unless contraindicated by her pediatrician or therapist. I’ve had some success with infants/toddlers who needed a little proprioceptive input prior to wearing socks/shoes before outdoor activities. We also had a “transitional” song to go along with the bare foot to shoe activity. Checking with an Occupational Therapist who specializes in sensory integration could be helpful. It may take a while to figure out what works for your daughter. I’d love to hear when you find what works so I can add it to my own bag of tricks. Best Wishes! (World of Writer Mom) https://www.facebook.com/writermomadvocate/

  4. 40yearsaspedteacher says:

    Sometimes I think it would be easier to purchase several styles of what you are shopping for and let your child try on the clothing in the comfort of home, and return the clothes that don’t work out. It might seem like a lot of work, but if it prevents meltdowns or tears, it is worth it.

    1. Yep… We definitely do that. But it’s easier said than done when it comes to having your child wear it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *