Shopping with Children?

How to Shop with Children

QUESTION: I have a hard time taking my 8-year-old daughter shopping. Any ideas on how to keep the outbursts to a minimum?

ANSWER: Most shopping trips with children are full of adventure – some adventures take you to the end of the rainbow while others find you fighting dragons. The best way to manage shopping with children is to avoid it all together. Make arrangements so that you have time to go to the store alone. But, of course this isn’t always possible. The following tips can make those errands a little easier.

  1. Plan Wisely There are two aspects to this idea of planning. The first is to make sure you are not going to the store when your child is tired or hungry. Even quick trips to the store with a cranky child are more likely to end in disaster. The other aspect of planning is to know what you are shopping for and to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. Children have short attention spans and are more likely to lose their patience as a trip drags on and on.
  2. Engage Your Child Busy hands and busy brains can make for much easier trips through a store. Give older children tasks such as finding a particular brand of canned beans or picking out the cereal. Younger children can be kept busy by being in charge of holding the bread or by scratching items off the list as you find them.
  3. Have Conversations Another way to occupy children’s brains is to turn shopping into learning. When walking through the produce area, ask your child to name five things he sees that are red. Look for the letters in her name while perusing the cereal choices. Discuss your ideas for menus over the next week and decide what ingredients you will need.
  4. Give Your Child Choices “Would you rather have — grapes or animal crackers to eat while we are shopping?” “Which kind of apples do you like best?” When children feel involved and respected, they are much easier to get along with.
  5. How to Deal with Tantrums If a temper tantrum does occur, there are two ways to deal with it. Ride it out – make sure your child is physically safe, tell her you are there to help when she is ready to calm down, and let her express her anger. The other way is to leave the store with your child. If you give into the demands, you are teaching your child that tantrums are an effective way to get what they want. Either way – know that the people staring at you are often not judging, they are instead thinking, “ahhh, I remember those times, there by the grace of God go I …”

–  Michelle Salcedo, M.Ed, Chief Academic Officer of The Sunshine House

Ms. Salcedo has been in the field of early childhood for over 30 years. She has worked as a teacher, a director, a trainer, and a family educator in numerous child care settings. She has also worked in a leadership position in the Education Departments of two of the largest childcare corporations in the United States. Ms. Salcedo has also authored various articles and training modules as well as travelled the country as a trainer and key note speaker at conferences and early childhood events. She has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and an undergraduate degree in Developmental Psychology with an emphasis in Family Life Education.