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3yo doesn't want to go anywhere in winter

(47 Posts)
PenelopeChipShop Wed 09-Dec-15 20:48:11

This feels like such an odd problem I don't know if anyone will have been there. I've just searched the archives and can't find anything similar! Would welcome any opinions!

My DS is in most ways lovely (!) but incredibly stubborn and set in his ways. When he gets an idea in his head there's no budging it. He doesn't seem to particularly like winter or cold weather (fair enough) and just wants to stay inside and play with his toys. This has become apparent over the last month or so as it's got properly cold.

I go totally mad without enough fresh air and exercise and I think he's the same really - in nice weather we would have to go out once a day for both our sanities' sake but in winter he just doesn't want to do anything - he's perfectly happy playing at home, 'helping' me do jobs and playing with his toys. I feel like he's got me under house arrest because he just won't play ball. If I take him to the park he won't get out of the car, or walk.

I'm worried that he isn't really getting enough exercise/burning off enough energy - or really being stimulated enough with different experiences! But he just doesn't want to do anything. When it isn't freezing I think it's nice to just go for a stroll but he won't even do that.

Would you force it? Do you think this is a bad thing? I feel like the whole winter is stretching ahead and I'm going to be stuck indoors!!

(Should probably add that I work 3 days p/w so he spends 2 full days in nursery and 1 with grandparents - perhaps he just wants to enjoy being at home on his days 'off'... but in summer he was quite happy to be taken out, despite that!)

DancingDuck Wed 09-Dec-15 22:35:39

Tell him about Vitamin D. Explain that there's a magic chemical your body needs to keep it well and you can only get it from being outdoors, and that people have to be out in the air for an hour a day in winter or they get poorly. And you don't want to get poorly and miss Christmas, so how does he want to get the Vit D - at the park or looking at the Christmas shop windows, or playing football etc. Worth a try.

DancingDuck Wed 09-Dec-15 22:36:38

If he doesn't believe you, find a Youtube video about it and watch it together.

LizKeen Wed 09-Dec-15 22:52:46

My 3 year old wouldn't understand about vitamin D tbh.

Is he like this about other things? You say he is stubborn, in what ways?

Is there something you could do that you know he would love that you have never done before? Like a winter wonderland type thing, or a fairy trail, and really big it up before you take him.

Muchtoomuchtodo Wed 09-Dec-15 23:00:20

Well you can't spend 3 months of the year indoors so try to get to the bottom of what it is that he doesn't like.

Make sure he's got a really nice warm coat, hat and gloves to wear.

Book an outdoor activity so that the focus is on something other than being outdoors.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Wed 09-Dec-15 23:17:08

I think I might be inclined to put his coat and boots on, strap him in the car, ignore the tantrum and tell him that mummy has to go out and he has to do as he's told. He's three. He is not in charge.

GladiatorsInSuits Wed 09-Dec-15 23:19:48

What about a treat for outside, eg those hand warmers you can snap or special furry scarf etc, that keeps him warm but is also a novelty?

FadedRed Wed 09-Dec-15 23:36:58

Sorry Op, but you are the Mum and he isn't. smile
What you say goes.
Comfy warm clothes and out doors for fresh air and exercise. Jumping in puddles, running through piles of leaves, taking an imaginary dog for walk, looking for birds and squirrels........

PippaFawcett Wed 09-Dec-15 23:40:09

I do love Mumsnet - "Tell him about VitaminD" grin

Tell him you are going outside, don't ask him. I also go swimming, to soft play etc with the DC to burn off their energy in the winter if I can't face the grim weather but usually we just wrap up and off we go.

Mine moan about walking but if I turn it into a running race, that is fine!

dodobookends Thu 10-Dec-15 00:06:06

Toughen up Mum, he is nit the boss of you! If he doesn't learn to do as he is told now, you will be storing up trouble in the future when he decides he doesn't want to go to school, or tidy his room, or do his homework...

Pteranodon Thu 10-Dec-15 00:19:21

My 6yo was like this at 3. I tried forcing it once, thinking he'd enjoy it once out but he was so miserable it wasn't worth it. I got out the house when I had someone else to mind him and into the garden when not. Invited friends round a lot. Photos of softplay & swimming pool sometimes worked, and he grew out of it, it just felt like forever at the time.

He is amenable and willing to help/cooperate now he's older, I think the premise that not establishing dominance now will lead to trouble later is false. My parents insisted on absolute obedience and while I appreciate they were doing what they thought was best, we are not close now. It's very damaging to a relationship to constantly overrule another person. Lots of people don't see 3yos as fully human though.

RiaOverTheRainbow Thu 10-Dec-15 00:42:31

Can you get him new wellies or a hat with his favourite character on it? Or an outdoor toy? Anything he'd be enthusiastic about that he can't use indoors. Or if not a new 'thing' then whatever would make it fun for him, maybe bringing a toy along or collecting things for craft or pretending to be dinosaurs.

DancingDuck Thu 10-Dec-15 08:02:42

grin about Vit D. But they don't have to understand completely. You just have to give a reason which isn't your will versus theirs. Stuff like the Vit D trick worked with my very stubborn 3 year old because it stopped it being a battle of wills between us. It's just a ruse.

PippaFawcett Thu 10-Dec-15 08:16:27

Pteranodon, I wasn't suggesting total obedience which I agree is unhealthy. But if a three year old is refusing to go outside, there comes a point when it is tough, they have to get on with it.

Promises of a hot chocolate and DVD once you have got everything done/been to the park might also work.

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Thu 10-Dec-15 08:20:45

Is he warm enough when you're out? Although tbh this winter's been pretty mild so far.

Agree that swimming, soft play or even just walking round a shopping centre are all good indoor activities.

Flobberty Thu 10-Dec-15 08:22:10

He's three!

It's not really up to him, is it?!

Flobberty Thu 10-Dec-15 08:23:47

And yes if you give in to this ridiculousness now then you really are storing up a load of even worse behaviour when he gets older - I have seen it happen so many times!

I think I might be inclined to put his coat and boots on, strap him in the car, ignore the tantrum and tell him that mummy has to go out and he has to do as he's told. He's three. He is not in charge. Yep!

Millionprammiles Thu 10-Dec-15 08:33:17

Dd can be like this, she really doesn't like it when its windy, drizzly and cold. And you know what? Neither do I. So we might have a day mostly spent indoors (but with a bit of play in the garden). Fine by me.
Helps we're in London so there are lots of interesting places to go indoors and still get some exercise.

Dp is of the 'get your coat on and get out whatever the weather' camp so insists on taking dd for outings. He usually regrets it after spending an hour in the cold with a whiny, clingy 3 yr old.

It has to be something pretty special to get dd out in poor weather (eg horse riding).

Ilikedmyoldusernamebetter Thu 10-Dec-15 08:34:27

Pteranodon whilst I agree that Stepford obedience is a a bad thing, letting a 3 year old dictate is also a bad thing - and for most people impossible anyway! My 4 year old frequently doesn't want to come along to take his siblings to activities or friends' houses (or to pick them up) or to go Kindergarten when I have to work - but he is one of the 5 people who live in our house, he is not less than human, he is exactly as human as each of the other 4 individuals, and his opinion is exactly as valid. That means that sometimes the rest of us inconvenience ourselves for him, and sometimes he is inconvenienced for another family member.

I think that is a very good thing to learn - part of being human (a social animal) is not being an egotistical selfish little womble grin (and I do know children are naturally egotistical til around age 6, but that doesn't mean that natural characteristic needs to be reinforced by parents - part of parenting is gradually leading children towards becoming functional within society, not encouraging/ enabling them to remain eternally egotistical nappy wearing tyrants because that is how they naturally start out grin )

icklekid Thu 10-Dec-15 08:37:26

Better than still having to spend large amounts of time in the freezing cold because ds doesn't understand the meaning of cold and loves being outside...I think compromise is key. A short amount of time outside so that your happy, plenty of time inside so ds is! Have they got bike/scooter to distract?

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Thu 10-Dec-15 09:30:32

Lots of people don't see 3yos as fully human though.


Lots of three year olds rule the roost and have no boundaries or good behaviour though.

I'm pretty sure my now 6 and 8 year olds are still human and doing alright.

Pteranodon Thu 10-Dec-15 09:34:35

But op doesn't mention other family members' needs being compromised. Of course there are times when you have to coerce your child, when there's no one else who can collect your eldest/your elderly mum needs visiting/you have to go to work. This child is already absorbing that message, that his preference can't take precedence, 3 days a week. I don't think it's a bad thing that the op look for ways to meet her own needs to go out, get fresh air etc that allows her kid to stay home and play when that's possible. Of course she shouldn't martyr herself but nor should 'he's 3, he doesn't get to decide' be accepted as the best possible route to family harmony and happiness. Children learn empathy by our empathising with them, kindness by our being kind to them.

CheradenineZakalwe Thu 10-Dec-15 09:44:40

Loving the 'you're in charge' comments. YOU WILL PLAY, CHILD, BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO

DH took DS to the park this morning. He ran in ok, then stood and refused to move for ten minutes. FadedRed, how precisely do you make a toddler jump in puddles and chase squirrels if they don't want to?! He has no concept of bribery or threats (he's 2.4), so short of physically dropping him in a puddle I think they do actually win, sometimes!

pileoflaundry Thu 10-Dec-15 10:05:36

I second the scooter/bike suggestion of a previous poster, my 3yr loves going out on hers but she isn't interested in going for a walk. Having a friend to play with outside also helps.

I've found that going anywhere in a car can make me children sleepy and lethargic, and hence not keen on getting out.

Ilikedmyoldusernamebetter Thu 10-Dec-15 10:06:49

Pteranodon the OP is also a family member, isn't she?

It may well be she doesn't want to go to work any more than he wants to go out and play. She is working to earn money for the family (unless she works for the joy of it and to buy handbags - I guess some people do).

Either way in every 24 hours there is room to accommodate the needs and wishes of both equally important humans - mother and child. Child wants to stay in and play, mother needs to do some errands and wants (sometimes boarderline needs, depending how the day is going) some fresh air.

1 hour outside is actually not telling the child his wishes are not important. 1 hour outside leaves 11 hours inside presumably - child has still had his way most of the day!

There is also the fact that a caring adult knows better than a 3 year old what he needs even though he knows what he wants. Sometimes I have to make my kids go outdoors for their own good even when I don't want to either! Most of the time they do want to, so I have not had the specific "want to stay indoors all the time, all winter" problem, but of course there are things 3 year olds don't want to do, which their parents would rather not bother with either, but enforce for the child's sake (take antibiotics, eat vegetables, go to bed at a time that will allow the child sufficient sleep, not eat an entire 100g bar of chocolate at once...)

You can respect a child's wants but know that they are not compatible with the child's needs, and you can decide to put your foot down about how one hour out of 12-14 waking hours are spent, without failing to be kind, to empathise, or to respect the child.

Allowing a child to stay indoors 24 hours a day for 4 days a week (with the other 3 days also probably spent mainly indoors at childcare) is not better for the child than allowing them to choose how to spend 11-13 hours a day with the caveat that they spend one hour outdoors.

You can't make a child play but you can take them for a walk, to feed the ducks, to swing on a swing, go for a bike/ balance bike/ scooter ride in the park, or if they out and out won't walk or cycle or play stick them in a push chair wrapped up snug and at least get both of you some air!

An hour outdoors improves the mood of both adults and children generally... On the very occasional days we are all stuck indoors all day everybody gets grumpy IME.

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