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Shopping with your Child

Shopping plus children equals a nightmare

Imagine this scene. You have gone to a shop to look for a birthday present for your sister. Your five-year-old son is accompanying you on this shopping expedition. A few minutes after you enter the shop, you spot an interesting pair of earrings, but before you can take a closer look your son is tugging at your trousers to draw you away to the children's section. You tell him to be patient, but he won't let up so you give in. You take him to the toy section to pacify him and in a space of a few minutes he has found at least three expensive toys he wants. You explain to him firmly that you're not going to buy them for him. Suddenly, you find yourself in the midst of a full-blown tantrum. Your son throws himself on the floor and makes his grievances known to the watching public at the top of his healthy lungs. Embarrassed and feeling like every single eye in the shop is glaring at you censoriously, you abandon your errand and make an ungraceful exit with your shopping partner. 

Most parents would empathize with the parent in the scene just described because they've probably been through the same thing with a few variations thrown in. Shopping with children in tow can be an exhausting experience. When you want to go one way, they want to go another. They fidget and get restless if they're expected to stay still for more than a few minutes at a stretch. They are least interested in the fact that you have something to do. They are cranky and demanding. To put it in a word, a nightmare.

However, there is no way that you can just find a parking spot for your child every time you have to shop. Taking them shopping is pretty unavoidable so you may as well learn to cope. 

Tips for shopping successfully with your child

  • Whenever possible, let your child know what to expect. Tell him where you are going and what you are going to shop for. By keeping him informed, you are giving him a sense of involvement right from the start so that he does not feel that he has to hang around while you do your adult chores.
  • Be very clear about the rules of behaviour you expect him to follow. Tell him that he has to remain by your side, what he can or cannot touch, what he can and cannot buy. Hopefully, this will have the result of pre-empting any subsequent arguments.
  • Give him a task so that he feels responsible and will not be easily distracted. May be he can make sure that you have put the right number of things in the shopping basket; or he could help you choose the wrapping paper and so on.
  • Give him something to look forward to. Tell him that if you finish shopping quickly, you'll have time to take him for an icecream or drop him at a friend's house to play.
  • If he throws a tantrum, do not react by throwing a tantrum yourself. This will only make things worse. Just ignore him and finish shopping as quickly as possible. When you have both cooled down, sit him down and have a little chat about what went wrong and what you expect from him on future shopping trips.
  • If your child is making an absolute nuisance of himself, take him outside and make him sit in the car or elsewhere till he has calmed down.
  • When he has behaved well or been a help, do not forget to praise his good behaviour.
  • If you have to take your child shopping, try to ensure that it is timed so that he is on a full stomach and well-rested.
  • Do not overestimate your child's tolerance level. Do not cram in a hundred chores or try to do too much when you have your child with you. In such cases, your expectations are unreasonable and you're just begging him to throw a tantrum. 

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