The supermarket is an exciting place for small children because there is so much to see and explore! However, it can also be frustrating and tiresome for little ones. They may become overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds, and become irritable or cranky. What can be done to help make shopping less stressful for children and parents?
- Be sure there is ample time. Don’t try to “fit in” a shopping trip at the end of a long day
- Avoid taking small children when they are tired or hungry.
- If your children are old enough, let them help you plan your list. Allow them to make a few choices such as what kind of cereal or snacks they want.
- Prepare a snack they can eat as you shop.
- Pack a few of their favorite toys to hold and enjoy.
While you’re there:
- Involve the children by asking them to hand you things, hold the list, help you “find” an item you can’t seem to locate, and place items in the cart.
- Remember to look together for their choices on the list.
- Talk with your infant or toddler about what you are doing and seeing, point out bright displays, and count items as you place them in the cart.
- Steer clear of items that you don’t intend to purchase, but you know your children will want.
- Don’t give in to demands. If you see a tantrum coming, try redirecting them. If this does not work, calmly stop the cart, make eye contact and let them know that right now you need their help; when you get home you can both do something fun together.
- ALWAYS keep your children close to you! Safely secure infants and toddlers in the cart and expect older children to hold on to the cart when they are not “helping out.
At the checkout:
- Give children groceries to put on the checkout counter.
- Play games such as “I Spy” as you wait. Look for an item of a certain color and tell your child, “I spy something red.” Give him a chance to guess. Take turns and let him choose a color to “spy”.
- Talk about what is happening as the groceries are being checked out.
- Remember to praise them for any positive behaviors!(e.g.“I like the way you stayed near me today”).