Sandy the penny horse stands near the checkout lines of our neighborhood supermarket, awaiting little boys and girls who behave on shopping trips with their parents. I smile when I remember how this little coin-operated stallion once gave my own three kids incentive to behave during shopping trips. Here are a few other tips I've learned for shopping with young kids in tow:
Feed them first. Toting hungry kids through an array of food-laden aisles is an invitation for disaster.
Pre-empt their pestering. Be clear with your kids beforehand about what will take place, telling them that they will see lots things they might want, but you only have money for what is on your list.
Build incentive. Besides a ride on Sandy, my kids also got to pick out one small treat per trip. Before the outing, I'd help them clip a coupon for a healthy (or sometimes sweet) snack. If they made it through the store without pleading or griping, they got to pick out that treat and hand the clerk their coupon. It made them feel important!
Guide financial awareness. When an older child wants something, agree that the item would be great to have. Then ask how much money the child has. If the child doesn't have enough, talk about ways that he can earn the money to purchase the item.
Avoid hot spots. If your kids struggle with the differences between needs and wants, plan your route through the store so that you don't walk through aisles loaded with treats or toys.
Buddy up. If you are hitting a rough patch with your children due to their age or stage, find a fellow struggling parent. Arrange a swap, so you watch her kids while she shops, and vice versa. This way, you can shop in peace — and maybe even enjoy a latte on the way.
This article first appeared in the August/September, 2011 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2011 by Karen Ehman. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
Did you enjoy this article? Read more like it.
Subscribe to Thriving Family magazine!