Holiday Shopping with Kids

by Elizabeth Pantley; photo: PhotoXpress.com

It’s the time of year when many people hit the stores shopping for the best bargains in gifts and holiday foods. It’s also the time of year for kids to beg, whine, fuss and have major meltdowns and tantrums in the malls and stores. Here are some tips to make your shopping trips pleasant – and maybe even fun!

Understand what’s really happening

Typically, it’s not shopping that young children object to, but the stressful environment and the business-like approach parents adopt when holiday shopping. In addition to that, the length of most shopping excursions tends to exceed a child’s limited amount of patience. So here’s what to do to make your outings more peaceful and maybe even fun:

View shopping trips as a holiday event, rather than an errand.

This is a great time to achieve two things at once: get your shopping done and have quality time with your child. Many shops are decorated for the holidays – so take a few extra minutes to view and appreciate these. Stop for a hot chocolate, snack or juice. When you have a more cheerful attitude it can easily rub off on your child.

Plan more time to shop.

When you’re not in a rush, you and your child will be more relaxed and have a better time. Make a list in advance, plan your route and stick to it. Roaming the stores pondering choices makes it a much longer event.

Engage your child.

Show your child all the interesting things on the shelves. New things to see and smell are everywhere! Older children love to be helpers at the store. They can make the choice between two different things, find items on the shelves, or put things in the cart. Children who can read might enjoy having their own short list of items to find. Having a voice in what you put in the cart is very exciting and empowering for children.

Make it safe and comfortable.

Use a sling, baby carrier, backpack or toddler-friendly shopping cart. Carriers are great for babies since they can securely and safely watch all that is happening around them. Older babies and toddlers love those fun car-shaped carts. If you’re going to be a while, add a towel to soften the seat bottom for a more comfy ride.

Respect your child’s desires.

A simple acknowledgement can help: “Yummy. Those cookies do look good.” Follow this up with an explanation of why you’ll not be buying them, without sounding reproving, such as, “We’re not buying any cookies today, because when we get home we are going to bake our very own cookies!”

Create a wish list.

Whenever your child declares, “I want this!” tell him that you’ll remember that. Jot it down on paper and call it his ‘wish list.’ If he sees you actually writing down his desires it can take the sting out of not bringing home the object of his desire.

Prevent the constant “gimmees.”

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

Have consistent rules and remind the kids of these before your trip.

It can help to write out the top four or five shopping rules. Put the notes in the car or your purse and review them each time before you even begin to shop.

What not to do

Don’t take a hungry child 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 that your child can eat as you shop. A box of crackers or a bag of pretzels can work wonders to take the edge off. Ask a clerk if your child can eat it now and then you’ll pay for the empty bag. Or ask if the store provides a free child’s snack, often you’ll find free fruit for this purpose in the produce department.

Don’t take a tired child shopping.

Avoid scheduling shopping trips too close to nap or bed time. Tired children are absolutely more fussy and impatient. Which make parents more edgy, which can, in turn, make the trip miserable.

Don’t shop at the store’s busiest hours.

When possible, schedule 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 may be able to recommend good shopping times.

First seen on Kids in the House. These tips are from The No-Cry Discipline Solution.

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