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Help! My Kids Act Out in the Store

Dr. Charles Fay

 

Do you ever feel anxiety about going to the store because you’re dreading how your kids will act?

Every day, otherwise strong adults are brought to their knees, desperately attempting to extract their whining, screaming tykes from toy and candy aisles around the world. In small villages and big cities alike, normally calm and collected adults find themselves resorting to various forms of beggary, bribery, or big-talk-ery, trying in vain to preserve their checkout lane dignity.

It can be so stressful when we feel those judging eyes of other store-goers on us.

Such pain and humiliation need not be! With the following tips, shopping with small children can be joyful rather than jaw-clenching:

  • Practice the “Uh Oh Song” at home.

    Learn how to get your small child to listen the first time by watching, Painless Parenting for the Preschool Years II.  Get kids used to the idea that you take action when they cause problems (versus giving them endless empty warnings).

  • Give them a mission prior to leaving home.

    Find pictures of the items you need to pick up at the store. Have your child use these images to be your helper at the store. As they get older, perhaps the mission is finding the best deal on baked beans.

  • Set positive expectations in the parking lot.

    “I know we are going to have a great time shopping! I’m sure glad you’re here to help me find what I need!” Statements such as these are far more effective than, “If you’re really good, then I’ll get you…” or “If you don’t behave I’m going to…”

  • Keep the pace quick, snappy, and fun.

    The faster you move through the store, the fewer problems you’ll have.  Give kids the idea that it is their job to keep up with you – not the other way around.

  • Let them learn from the cashier.

    If your child grabs something they can’t have, experiment with saying, “You may have that as long as you can pay for it.” Let your child visit with the cashier about how he or she plans to purchase the item…with no money.  Some kids only need to have this experience once (without their parents rescuing or bailing them out) before learning not to grab unauthorized items for purchase any more.

  • Remember that fits now are better than fits at age sixteen.

    Every good fit that our kids throw when they are small is one less fit they’ll have when they’re teens.

    And fits at the end of a shopping trip are better than fits at the beginning (see allowing kids to learn from the cashier above).

    With these ideas in mind, you can keep your next trip to the store more enjoyable and less stressful.

 

Thank you so much for reading and for sharing these blog posts with parents who are struggling with issues like defiance and misbehavior in public. We want to help as many parents and professionals as possible.

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