What parent hasn’t experienced the dreaded scene of their young child screaming at the top of her lungs in a crowded grocery store after you have said “no” to a toy, candy bar, box of cereal, or a _______(you fill in the blank)?
Here are some tips to calm, or avoid altogether, the grocery store meltdown with your toddler or young child:
1) Shop only when your child is well-rested and well-fed
Many tantrums can be avoided by making sure your child’s basic needs are met before setting foot in the store. Don’t push your child by going on too many errands, skipping your toddler’s naptime, or delaying meals just to get just “one more” errand done.
2) Try to “go back” strategy
Instruct your child ahead of time that they may hold one item at a time while in the store (and buckled in the seat of the shopping cart), and as soon as you get to the checkout line they are to give it to the clerk and say, “this is a go back”. Explain that they are giving it back to the store, so that they can hold it next time.
3) Is it on the list?
Keep a grocery store list on the fridge that your child can ask you to add items to before entering the store. But once you set foot in the store, the list cannot be altered. When he asks, “Can I get that candy?” you respond, “Is it on the list? Oh, no, it’s not. Let’s add it when we get home for our next grocery store visit.” This gives your child the skill to influence what is purchased at the store next time and it lets “the list” be the bad guy, instead of you.
4) Let people stare
No matter what brilliant parenting strategies you try, sometimes your child will continue to cry, scream, and protest about not getting what they want. People who stare at you with that “you’re such a bad parent” look have probably never been a parent, or were a parent so long ago that they can’t remember what it’s really like. Let them stare, quickly finish up your shopping, and get out of there!
(as published on Examiner.com)
Julie Hanks is the new Salt Lake City Family Counseling Examiner
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