Five Tips for Successful Shopping with Kids

PICT0284-2As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m not much of a shopper.

I don’t take my kids shopping very often, except to the grocery store. But have you ever noticed how even a routine jaunt to buy grapefruit and tomatoes can turn into a power struggle extraordinaire?

Though my kids are pretty well-behaved (in public anyway), I find that our shopping trips–even just to the market–always go much more smoothly if I’m upfront about how I expect them to behave.

The key to successful shopping with kids is to make sure you talk to them before you enter the store.

(NB: These rules work at the supermarket too but they’re mostly for boutique or clothes shopping.)

Be sure to mention that:

1) You expect them to use indoor voices.

2) You expect them to look with their eyes but not with their hands. This means they can’t touch anything without permission.

3) You’re just browsing (if that’s what you’re doing) and you don’t want them to ask for things.

4) You plan to buy them something and you will spend only X amount on each child. This way they know in advance that they need to pick something in the appropriate price range.

5) No ad-ah-ho-chee-ko-da-ho-chee. This is Japanese for I-want-this-I-want-that. My sister-in-law taught it to me. There’s nothing more annoying than a child pestering you the whole time you’re shopping. Even if they may buy one thing, you don’t want any I-want-this-I-want-that.

Finally, set appropriate consequences if they misbehave: I have a one strike and you’re out rule for shopping, at the grocery store or anywhere else, because I don’t like to see rude or badly behaved children in stores.

If my children bicker or raise their voices, they have to wait outside until the rest of us are done.

They know that I follow through on this rule (as I have in the past), and I remind them of it before we shop.

It usually works.

Nine times out of ten the kids are careful to be on extra good behavior.

Readers, do you enjoy shopping with your children? Do you have any tips to add on how to make a trip to the store go more smoothly?

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7 thoughts on “Five Tips for Successful Shopping with Kids”

  1. I used to hate taking my kids to the grocery store. They were just miserable there even though they were well-behaved elsewhere. A friend told me that the secret to keeping her 4 kids under control was that as soon as they got to the store, each one got to pick a small snack to eat immediately. It’s bribery, but it worked for her. Great tips!

  2. These are great tips! My kids are older now, but I too have found that talking about expectations ahead of time makes it much easier to nip whining and begging for things in the bud. Love your straightforward approach.

  3. These are really sensible tips. When my kids were little I found it was helpful to set rules ahead of time so none of us – including me – were caught off-guard by a sudden desire to have to have a certain cookie or toy. Most of the time, I’m happy to say it worked.
    .-= sheryl´s last blog ..Why Diets Fail =-.

  4. Clear expectations and an unwavering firmness can help a lot. That being said, there is no totally eliminating these behaviors–it’s against their nature, and against human nature, to dangle desirable things before people and not to arouse cupidity. Having kids made me understand the Buddhist teaching that ‘desire is the cause of all suffering.’ You can see it in their little psyches, when you show them things they want.

  5. I wouldn’t feel comfortable having a five year old wait outside a big store either Caroline! My oldest is almost 11 and her baby brother (who I have sent outside) is 6.5. I feel safe doing that because we live in a small town, I know many of the people who are shopping at the member owned small Co-op where we buy 99 percent of our food, and my child is not usually out of my sight when he’s out there (he sits within view of the check-out counter and he can see me inside and I can see him outside) or if he is, not for long.

    Other more age-appropriate consequences:

    #1) If you’ve bought her something for her that week (like juice or mac and cheese or something that only she eats and really likes), put it back on the shelf and explain that she can’t have it that week because she was misbehaving in the store and you’ll try again next time and buy it for her then.

    #2) Explain since you did not like the way she behaved this time, she will not come to the store with you next time. Then find a way to leave her home the next time you go (but make sure she isn’t doing something MORE fun than shopping with Mommy) and remind her that she lost the privilege of coming along because she was not behaving as you had hoped and expected and that you’ll miss her and you wish she were coming with you but this is the consequence and you know she’ll behave better next time so you’ll look forward to that trip with her in the future…

    #3) At the beginning of shopping, tell her you will buy her a treat (ice cream or a special fruit or whatever she really loves) only if she behaves well for the entire trip. You will give it to her AFTER you check out. But if she’s freaking out at check out or any other time, she won’t get the treat. (If this sounds like bribery, it is! But I think it really works).

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