Smart Shopping with Small Children

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The following tips can help you and your toddler enjoy your shopping outings.

  • PREPARE. “We’re going shopping.” Prepare your child for the day. Explain where you are going and whom you are shopping for. Your child will be more interested in helping if it is to buy a vase for Granny or a shirt for Daddy.
  • PLAN YOUR STOPS. “First we’re going to the clothing store, then the shoe store, then for a snack.” This is not a time to browse; plan where you will go and exactly what you will look for. Plan your shopping, but plan your breaks as well. Let your toddler know when you will break for a treat.
  • PACK. “I have a surprise for you when we check out.” Pack your diaper bag with interesting diversions. Snacks, juice, small toys the child hasn’t seen for a while, and a puppet are all good to have along. Don’t let your child have access to the bag, but save the treats to use throughout the day. The puppet will be a great help choosing things and “talking” to the child while you shop.
  • PICK YOUR BATTLES. “You can’t get out of the stroller, but you can sit this way for a change.” Realize that your toddler would really rather be at home, sitting on the floor playing with his toys than out amongst all these people he can only see from the waist down. This is not the time to have strict rules. Be flexible. Identify with the child’s frustration and try to help him cope. If he gets fussy, remember that he may be hungry, wet, bored, or stiff from sitting. Take a break.
  • PRAISE YOUR CHILD. “You are being a great little shopper and I appreciate your help.” This is a great opportunity to increase your child’s self-esteem and really talk to her one on one. Don’t save your praise; start out small and start out soon. Thank her for getting in the stroller, staying seated, holding your hand, or simply waiting in line.

As you strap your toddler into the car seat and put the packages and stroller in the trunk, you and your toddler can both feel a sense of accomplishment.

TAKE A BREAK

  1. Go to a low traffic area of the mall and let your child walk or run. He shouldn’t be expected to sit all day. Save a treat for when he gets back in the stroller or cart.
  2. Let him sit on the token (quarter) ride-on toys outside of stores. You may not even need to put money in them.
  3. Sit in the middle of the mall and people watch together. Talk to her face to face (You may have been behind her pushing all morning and she may miss you.)
  4. Visit the pet store.
  5. Let your toddler throw pennies in the fountain or into a charity barrel or bin.
  6. Visit the video store and take a couple of minutes to watch the movie being shown (if age appropriate).
  7. Stop for a snack.
  8. Find a quiet corner in a bookstore and read a couple of pages to your child.

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NOTE: This article was originally published in the December 1996 issue of ParentLife magazine. Lifeway Press, Nashville, TN.

WRITTEN BY: Linda J. Beck, “a family manager. She and her husband have three children.”  Wow.  Had i known then what I know now….

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