There was a time not so long ago that I thought taking my girls to the grocery store was something akin to a poor reality television show; I could expect a few laughs but I could be sure I would end up seeing things I wouldn't want to see. Somewhere along the way they would knock over a display, pitch a fit or beg for a cookie or twenty. That all changed over time as I learned a system that worked. Here are ten tips that helped me the most:
10 Tips for Taking Kids to the Grocery Store
1. Use a list – Writing down a list ensures that you will focus while you are there. At a minimum it will guarantee that you get what you intended if you lose that focus.
2. Involve the kids – If you let the kids help out, then you will have a great deal more success. I usually have each child make certain something is bought. That helps them to feel involved and they seem to respond to that.
3. Let them choose from healthy options – The ultimate trick that my mother taught me is my personal favorite. All you have to do is come up with three acceptable options for snacks and let the kid choose from between them. All choices are good for you so the kid can have some control without eating junk.
4. Put them in charge of something – A child wants to feel as though they are in charge now and then so I will make certain they are in charge of something. For example, I will let my little one be in charge of asking for our meat choices at the deli. They love being the big shot that says how much is needed.
5. Feed them ahead of time – Never, ever, ever bring a hungry child to the grocery store. It will go bad quickly every time.
6. Make it a school lesson – I also use the grocery store to keep their brains moving. Adding up what I just bought, spelling what I just picked up and figuring out the cheapest prices are all games that I play with them.
7. Bring along a small toy – If your children have a very hard time focusing, then allow them to bring a small toy that will keep them busy.
8. Discuss the trip ahead of time – Expectations and consequences are important at the grocery store just like they are at home. Make certain that you go over all of these things when you discuss the grocery store. Let them know what you expect and what will happen if it is not delivered.
9. Play the alphabet game – This is my favorite game of all and the kids love it. When we go in the store, I assign each child a letter. I take one as well and we all try to find foods that start with that letter. The winner gets to pick a special treat for us all to share when we check out.
10. Avoid the trouble spots – If your child has a weakness for asparagus, then avoid them and go around when possible. This also applies for the cereal aisle, chocolate aisle and potato chip aisle. It is sometimes impossible, but you should try to avoid those areas when you can.
All of these things helped my children learn to act right and I have to use different combinations to make it work. Sometimes I use only a couple of these things and on tough days I might use them all. Do what works for you and enforce the expectations every single time. In no time, you will have children that act like well mannered young adults in the grocery store.