5 ways to prevent tantrums while shopping (for parents with toddlers)

We believe a trip to the shop is a very valuable learning experience for children – at any age.

Yes, we know it can be frustrating for parents! It is also inevitable, most of the time, as younger kids cannot be left home alone, and you shouldn’t guess what’s trendy to wear without your teen present.

When you have to go grocery shopping, do you dread taking kids along?

We made a list with 5 tips, from author Hettie Brittz, to prevent tantrums while shopping.

1. Prevent low blood sugar levels

Allow your children to eat and drink something healthy before shopping to avoid low blood sugar levels, which might lead to tantrums.

2. Communicate your expectations

Explain beforehand what rules apply (stay close, don’t open items) and what you will or will not purchase. Ask your children to repeat what you’ve said by saying: What is Mommy going to buy? What will Mommy not buy? Then, if they ask for sweets or something not on the shopping list, you can remind them that they themselves said you would not buy that.

Remind the kids every time before you get out of the car in the parking lot.

3. No outbursts

Make it clear from the get-go that you will not tolerate outbursts. Decide beforehand what your actions will be in case there is an outburst, for example: “If you cry, scream or grab things in the shop, we will stop the trolley and wait until you calm down. We will then buy everything Mommy needs and the outing will take longer. If you remain friendly, we’ll finish quickly.”

(Children do not need to be rewarded every time they are well-behaved because then they will believe that they’re doing you a favour! You can expect them to be well-behaved.)

4. Keep them busy

Give your children responsibilities while shopping to keep them occupied. For example, you can allow them to place your chosen items in the shopping trolley. Older children could mark the items on the shopping list; push the trolley; or handle money when paying for goods.

Be sure to explain ‘my job’ and ‘your job’ clearly.

5. Give them choices

Give your children at least one choice in the shop. They could choose this week’s juice flavour, or between fruits such as apples or pears, or what’s for dinner on Friday night.

This will make them feel invested in the outing, rather than being dragged along unwillingly.

It is always a good idea to playfully practice at home before we ‘test’ our kids in public.

Children learn while playing and the more fun you incorporate the faster they learn. Use toys, or even real grocery items, to set up a make-believe-shop in your living room. It might take a bit of planning and time to set up, but imagine how excited they will be to ‘take Dad shopping’ as soon as he arrives home after work?

Make it even more enjoyable with combining it with dressing-up. Imagine a dress, high heels, and a hat with matching handbag containing Monopoly money! Or wearing Dad’s shirt and way too big shoes.

The family can even arrive on their scooters and or bicycles, park it out front and enter the shop together. Get excited about the two-for-one special on dinosaurs, or the tower of toilet rolls at the entrance.

Another surprize element is to reverse roles – complete the experience with a checkout till with dad as the cashier! Or big sis handing the order of ‘six coney rolls, please’.

All the while playfully learning about do’s and don’ts while shopping.

#inspiring you to make shopping with kids more enjoyable!

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