Tips for Shopping with Young Children

May 16, 2011, Parenting Success Network

Summertime may mean you have children with you more often as you shop. Here are some tips for avoiding stress and making shopping trips more manageable regardless of the age of the child. Tips like role-playing certainly apply more to the younger child but pre-planning and clear expectations are helpful for all ages.

Consider some of these suggestions:

  • Make a list before you go  – and stick to it – write most needed items first so if a child has a meltdown you can leave with real necessities
  • Budget – know how much you can spend and stick to it
  • Explain the rules beforehand, “I expect you to sit in the basket or walk quietly with me while I push” or even something as detailed as “I will push for the first 3 aisles while you ride and you can help push for the next three”
  • Roleplay shopping at home to show how you choose, how you speak to clerks, how you pay.  Use a real basket and your own canned foods to play.  Remind children in the store how you did it at home.
  • Choose a time for shopping when you and your children are not tired or hungry
  • Even with older children, don’t try to do all your shopping at once. It may overwhelm the child’s ability to be patient
  • Prepare for your trip with necessities, diapers, a bottle of water a small snack, or a favorite toy for comfort.
  • While you are shopping, talk to your child about your purchases.  Give children a voice in decision making, “Apple or grape juice?”. Older children can help by putting things in the basket. Younger ones can place things in the cart as you hand them off shelves.
  • For all ages, avoid giving in to demands for treats. If your child loses it while waiting in line or because you have refused a candy bar, it’s worth losing your place in line to move the child to another area or outside until calm returns.  This teaches that you mean what you say.  Remain firm, it means fewer problems in the long run.
  • After the shopping trip, talk about it. Emphasize how much you like being with your child and how much you appreciate her/his cooperation.