Tis the season to shop and if you have to shop with your kids, you may not be in a jolly mood. Lucky parents can find a babysitter and others have to prepare themselves for the battles that will likely happen in the aisles. But you don’t have to fight with your kids if you establish some ground rules before you get into the car.
Make Sure They Are Fed
Kids tend to behave better when they have eaten. If they are hungry, they may ask for every food item they see (well, probably not spinach or Brussels sprouts). Take them to eat before shopping and they will be less cranky. No time for a meal? Carry some snacks with you or change for the drink machine. For small kids used to daily naps, make sure you don’t go shortly before naptime. Unless your kid can sleep anywhere, he or she may get tired and fussy on your trip.
Establish the Boundaries
Kids not only need direction but they do better when they know what to expect. Tell them where you are going and what you are buying. For example, “We are going to Target to pick out a scarf for Aunt Brenda. That is the only thing we are buying there. We are not going to the toy section. And you cannot have any candy.”
Also, make sure your kids know they will be punished and what the punishment will be if they misbehave. If they act inappropriately, punish them. Don’t make empty threats. Your kids will start to believe you are a pushover.
Make Your “No’s” Firm
Kids are notorious for trying to wear their parents down when they want something. For example, your child may think he actually needs that Star Wars lightsaber. He doesn’t. My child pulled that one on me for a long time and it wasn’t just about a lightsaber. He needed a train, an X-Box and it seems as if he still needs new headphones every week. Eileen Kennedy-Moore Ph.D. said in an article in Psychology Today that you should make sure your kids know the difference between a want and a need.
Let Them Help
Younger children love to help their parents and will be thrilled if you ask them. Turn shopping into a game. Once I told my son we had $15 to purchase food for lunch and dinner that day as well as a snack. He happily told the cashier that we had a budget and were $3 under and still got candy. By letting them help, you can also teach them the value of money.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go perfectly
Kids can be unpredictable. Your perfect angel can turn into a terror when you tell her she can’t have a stuffed unicorn. Most parents have been through a public meltdown with their child. Remember, there are no perfect parents or kids. Handle the situation and move on from it.
Has your child ever had a meltdown while you were out shopping? Tell us your stories in the comment section below.