Shop with Your Children without Having a Nervous Breakdown: Nine Great Tips

Shopping with your beloved children in tow is an experience that represents life at its most unpredictable. Depending on what happens, the shopping trip could be a fun adventure or a journey to the outer limits of your sanity! The tips below can help you avoid the pitfalls and turn your next shopping trip into an outing, both for you and your children.

1. Shop with another parent and their children.

Having another adult around means you can take turns to mind the children when one of you is trying on clothes or busy with a salesperson. One enterprising parent on the Simple Savings website goes grocery shopping with a close friend and ‘swaps’ children for the duration – the children are much better behaved because they’re not with their own parent!

2. Use positive reinforcement.

As I entered a busy mall on a recent Saturday morning I passed a young family, two small daughters flanked by their mum and dad. ‘You shared really well then’, the mother said to the elder girl. ‘How did that feel?’ Positive reinforcement is simply providing positive feedback when your child does the right thing. It tells the child that they’re on the right track without being bossy, and is a great way to build your child’s self-esteem and confidence.

3. Use teachable moments to help your children become smart, effective shoppers.

Everyday occurrences can offer valuable lessons in life. When you’re at the supermarket, point out how the cereals are displayed so as to encourage people to buy them; ask the children if they think the loaf of bread you’ve chosen is good value; let them help you choose the freshest fruit and vegetables. Before the trip, involve them in preparing the shopping list (‘Do you think we should get some zucchini?’). Try to avoid making negative comments about how expensive things are getting – give your children a sense that you’re in control of your shopping and spending, and that they can be too.

4. Acknowledge emotions.

You can support the development of your children’s intuition and emotional intelligence when you’re out shopping. Be aware of how they’re feeling and acknowledge their emotional state, eg ‘You’re looking tired – do you want to sit up here?’ Gently remind them to stay centred with a prompt like ‘What’s your heart telling you to do?’ Encourage them to think about how they are feeling when they demand that you buy them something. If they’re being a bit loud and overactive, respond positively: ‘It’s great that if you have so much energy, but you can shout and run around outside once we get home’.

5. Learn when it’s better to leave your child alone.

We all need periods of withdrawal and contemplation. While it’s great to involve children in the shopping process there will be times when they just want to withdraw. Children are easily stimulated and the retail environment can be overwhelming for them; sometimes they need to take stock and get back in touch with their interior world. Use your gut feeling to decide when to engage your child and when to simply leave them be.

6. Plan ahead to avoid tantrums.

Try not to shop at times when your child is likely to be hungry and tired, and take their needs into account once you’re out. Bring along small toys and books to keep them occupied. When supermarket shopping, have a plan in place to deal with demands for food. This could mean letting your children choose a piece of fruit as soon as you arrive at the supermarket; bringing a healthy snack; or having an agreement with your child that a particular snack will bought after the shopping trip. Plan activities to distract your children at the crucial time when you’re approaching a cash register; for example, you could start a game of I Spy.

7. Deal with bad behaviour calmly.

It’s easy to go into bossy mode when a child is acting up, especially if you’re both tired. A useful technique when your child starts to misbehave is to present them with a choice, eg ‘Sweetie, you have two options: you can give the toy back to Samantha, or I’ll have to do it. Which would you rather?’ This encourages children to behave without disempowering them.

8. Deal with tantrums if they do arise.

If your child is really upset, try to think of yourself as an oasis of calm in their storm. Take some deep breaths before reacting, then acknowledge how they are feeling. This is more easily said than done, but it helps your child if you’re able to model how to stay in control while they are still learning how to deal with emotions. Don’t give into unreasonable demands, however upset your child is: you’ll set a precedent and create a monster. If the tantrum continues, sometimes removing yourself and your child temporarily is the best solution.

9. Build in the fun.

Try to make the whole trip fun for your children with games and challenges. Treasure hunts, guessing the weight of fruits and vegetables, finding low-cost goods, and finding items starting with particular letters of the alphabet are just some possibilities. Create a sense of adventure, and reward your children when they behave well. Remember, too, that rewards don’t have to be about food: shopping at the mall could be followed by a ride on a mini-merry-go-round or a trip to a nearby park.

Hope these tips help! Until next time

If you enjoyed this post you might like Top Tips for Inspired Supermarket Savings.

No comments :