One of life’s biggest mysteries, like why all the Tupperware lids go missing and the exit of only one sock when two go in the dryer: Why do the kids always want to wear shorts, even when it is freezing outside?
On a search to answer that lifelong question, I did some Googling. Unfortunately, there is no WebMD for figuring out teenagers, so there were a lot of opinions out there, depending on what you wanted to believe. Some were panic-stricken, saying that allowing your child to wear shorts in winter will almost certainly lead to hypothermia. Others dismissed it altogether, saying that testosterone keeps the boys’ bodies warmer, along with their leg hair (read: eh, don’t worry about it). My favorite? That wearing shorts actually keeps you warm because it allows heat to escape, regulating body temperature.
We have all seen these kids at the bus stop or dropped them off at school ourselves, wearing shorts with snow flurrying down. So, what is your guess?
Maybe it is because they are more comfortable in shorts or don’t like how they look in pants. Or some kids believe that they are not “cool” (get it?!) if they wear pants in the freezing temperatures.
The psychologist in me believes something else – it’s not about fashion or the temperature at all. It’s about development. Being a kid or teenager especially is a time of experimentation, boundary testing, and self-exploration. Wearing shorts in winter allows them to do all of these things: they get to buck the system (mom yelling at them to go put pants on), see what it is like to go against a social norm, and identify where they fit in with the peer expectations of insisting “it’s not even cold!”
Part of this process is finding ways to be unique and special. Oooh that’s a big one! Our kids are constantly searching for ways to stand out and gain attention and recognition. Really, aren’t we all deep down? In that sense, wearing the shorts is a simple and acceptable way to experiment in that way, given it is not too cold. They can get recognized and asked regularly, “Aren’t you cold?!” They get to be a part of the group. They get to test out the rules. They get to stand out as unique.
Unless it is dangerously cold outside, wearing shorts in winter will only lead to their own discomfort. If it is safe, let them test it out, knowing your rolling eyes are all part of it. This is their chance to push the limits while still staying close.