Shopping with children, oh what fun!

by Elizabeth Pantley

Does your child hate to go shopping with you? Does your little one usually end up begging for candy, cookies or toys? And then, when you say no, is there fussing, crying or tantrums in the store? Let’s talk shopping – and how to have a pleasant outing.

p80-Annoyingthingstheydo[1]Why do kids hate shopping?
Often it’s not actually shopping that young children object to, but the stressful, business-like approach that parents adopt when running errands. In addition to that, many adult events are uninteresting to children, and the length of most shopping excursions tends to exceed a child’s limited amount of patience.

Change your point of view
It helps to treat shopping trips as events rather than an errands.This is a great time to achieve two things at once: get your shopping done and have some quality time with your child. If you are a busy, multi-tasking parent you’ll find this change in mindset helps you have a more patient, pleasant attitude which will easily rub off on your child.

Allow extra time to shop.
When you don’t push things – when you aren’t in a rush, you and your child will be more relaxed and have a more pleasant time. On days when you are in a hurry, make a list in advance and stick to it. Roaming the store (or a bunch of stores!) for random purchases makes it a much longer trip.

Engage your child.
Most children love to be helpers at the store. They can carry things to the car, choose produce, and find items on the shelves. Children who can read might enjoy having their own short list of items to find.

Ask him for input.
When you can, pick two similar items ask your child which one you should buy. Having a say in what you put in the cart is very exciting and empowering for children.

Acknowledge your child’s desires.  
Are there things that you like but can’t have? Of course there are! Kids are people too, and they like and want stuff! Children will learn over time that you can desire things, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get them. So acknowledge those desires: “Wow! That is a very cool truck!” Follow this with a statement of why you’ll not be buying it, without sounding reproving, such as, “But we’re not buying any toys today, we have to find some apples, can you help me?”

Create a written or an imaginary wish list.
Whenever your child says, “I want this” tell him that you’ll write it down so that you’ll remember that he likes it. You can jot it down on paper and call it his ‘wish list.’

Prevent the gimmees.
Let your child know in advance what you will or will not be buying that day, before you even enter the store. If you can allow him to choose one treat to put in the basket each time you shop he will know not to ask for an endless list of things. Having to decide on his one thing also gives a purpose to the trip.

Have consistent rules.
If you shop frequently it will help to write out the top five or six shopping rules and put the note card in the car or in your bag. Review the rules each time before you shop.

What not to do

Don’t take a hungry child food shopping.
You might not intentionally plan this, but it happens. If it has been an hour or two since your child last ate, the first item on your list should be a snack your child can eat as you shop. A box of crackers, a bag of pretzels or a bag of apple slices can work wonders to take the edge off. (Just remember to pay for it – even if it’s an empty bag.)

Don’t take a tired child shopping.
Avoid scheduling shopping trips too close to nap time or bed time. Tired children are absolutely more fussy and impatient.

Don’t shop at the store’s busiest hours.
When possible schedule your shopping times to avoid the biggest crowds. More people in the store mean longer lines and more complications. A quiet, less-populated store will also help you feel less stressed. A cashier or manager can recommend good shopping times.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Discipline Solution (McGraw-Hill) by Elizabeth Pantley http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth