Jacket Fail: The Ongoing Oddysey of Winter Coat Meltdowns

Just when I think I haveSensory Processing Disorderunder 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. Period.

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.

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