Grocery shopping with kids in tow can be a nightmare. Here are some strategies that can eliminate some frustrating behaviours:
Planning, Order and Routines
Kids thrive on order and routine. They like to know what is expected. You are more likely to have a cooperative shopping partner if your child knows that Tuesday is always grocery day. Of course whose life is always that organized? Simply giving some advance notice and if possible offering up some choice in the matter will still be helpful. "Today we need to stop at the grocery store – shall we do that before or after our trip to the library?"
Engage your children in the shopping experience to keep them from becoming bored and turning to misbehavior in order to gain some attention or exert power in their lives. Children can help take items from the shelf, pick fruit, or push the cart. I know what you’re thinking… NO, NOT THE CART!
TTFT (Take Time For Training) – Kiddy Carts
Children are not born knowing how to manage a kiddy cart. You will spend much more time correcting a child and telling them what NOT to do than you will spend training them.
Conserve your parenting energies and do this positive upfront work:
Mom: "You look like you are ready to have your own grocery cart, would you like that?"
Mom: "Okay! In order to have a grocery cart you have to learn how to be a responsible driver. What things do you think you need to do to be a safe cart driver?"
(Ask children what they know and then fill in the omissions. Children know so much more than we realize. It is discouraging to tell a child something they already know.)
Child: "You should walk, and not bump into things."
Mom: "That’s right. And what about corners? Anything special to think about there?"
Child: "Ya, watch at corners."
Mom: "Right, just like on your tricycle. Can you show me how you can do all those things?"
Child: "Sure, here I go…"
Mom: "Hey — I feel very safe with you driving beside me – I think you have shown that you are ready to drive a grocery cart — Hi five!"
Child: "Hi five"
Apply a Logical Consequence — Responsibilities and Privileges are Inseparable
For a logical consequence (L.C.) to be effective it must meet the criteria of the three R’s: Related, Respectful, and Revealed in Advance. "You are welcome to drive the cart if you follow the rules of the road and drive safely; walking feet, good steering, and careful corners, but if there is a problem using the cart safely, we’ll pop the cart away."
Mom: "Can you walk with the cart or does it need to get returned?"
(Child continues running with the cart)
Mom: "I see you’ve decided to return the cart"
(We look at what the feet are doing, NOT what the tongue is saying. Their continued running demonstrates their decision).
Follow Through, Firm and Friendly
If you have given the choice you need to follow through, calmly quietly, and in a matter-of-fact way. Drop your attitude, anger, disappointment. That will provoke a power struggle. Simply do what you said you were going to do – return the cart.
Children learn from experiencing the consequence, not the threat of the consequence. What is more harmful to your child, to yell, get mad, and say hurtful things that can harm your relationship? Or to experience a simple consequence of losing their cart privileges?