Ditch the Jacket….

I always knew that jackets were evil….

Colds and the Cold

Posted by Robert Needlman, M.D.

on Thu, Sep 28, 2006, 11:26 am PDT

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Fall is the season of Jacket Wars, those
frustrating confrontations between young children who just want to feel
comfortable, and concerned parents who are intent on keeping them
healthy. The parent in me sympathizes. The doctor in me knows that
being cold does not cause colds; viruses do. Meanwhile, my child
development training tells me that the real issue isn’t runny noses,
it’s control.

Let’s start with the medical. The Germ Theory of Disease is a triumph of 19th
century medicine. It says, in essence, that germs cause disease, not
curses, vapors, or drafts. Since then we’ve discovered hundred of
viruses that cause noses to run and throats to cough. The general term
for these unpleasant and contagious events is upper respiratory
infections, or URIs. A URI represents the classic battle between a
host (your child) and an agent (the virus). The host wants the virus
out; the virus wants to make lots of copies of itself, then make its
way on to the next host. Sneezing accomplishes both of these ends; in
a funny way, it’s a win-win solution.

The main reason cold
weather brings an increase in URIs has less to do with cold air than
with windows. When we close windows, we close out the fresh air and
breathe in air that’s filled with everyone else’s viruses. Being
chilled to the bone probably does decrease our ability to fight off viruses, but that’s different from just being a little cold for a short while.

I
think most parents know all this. But we still want our kids to bundle
up in the cold, “just in case.” Completely apart from whether it
really makes any difference, we want to believe that we’ve done
everything possible to protect our offspring. We don’t’ want anyone
thinking we’re bad parents.

Kids, off course, take a different
point of view. As they see it, jackets are part of a grown-up plot to
make them uncomfortable, and in general to take over. Children figure,
it’s their skin; they know whether or not they feel
cold; so it’s their responsibility, as self-respecting autonomous
beings, to stand up against adult oppression. Runny noses are beside
the point; this is a fight for freedom!

So, what’s the solution?
If you can bring yourself to do it, I’d suggest letting your child go
jacketless. He might catch cold, but it probably won’t have anything
to do with a little chilly air. Carry his jacket with you, so it’s
there when he actually wants it. If you’re not engaged in a jacket
war, asking for the jacket won’t be a sign of surrender. Most
important, by putting the decision in your child’s hands, you help him
learn how to regulate his own comfort. You teach him to take charge of
himself, and to plan ahead. That’s got to be worth a couple of snuffly
noses.

From Here.

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