I used to hate taking my kids grocery shopping, but sometimes it’s inevitable! Here are some great tips for avoiding meltdowns at the grocery store!
Have you ever seen a mom struggling on the way into the grocery store?
Perhaps she’s trying to transport an infant in one of those hefty baby carriers while holding her toddler’s hand and making sure she doesn’t drop anything or get them all hit by a car.
Maybe you’ve witnessed her breathe a sigh of relief after wiping down all the grocery cart surfaces with sanitizing wipes and successfully securing her children into their seats.
Then you’ve seen her face turn red in embarrassment when her toddler started throwing a tantrum because she wouldn’t open the package of cookies sitting at the toddler’s eye-level on the shelf.
And then you’ve seen her cave. She glances around to see if anyone else is looking, winks at you, opens that package of cookies, whispers “shhhh” and gives one to her crying child.
If you’ve seen this woman around town, it’s probably been me.
In my pre-mommy days, I would’ve looked at a mother like myself and thought: My child will never act like that in public.
Yeah, right. Any mother of little ones will tell you (if she is truthful), it happens to all of us.
Grocery shopping has honestly been one of my biggest challenges since adding two children to our home. I admit that I told my husband when I was pregnant that he shouldn’t expect me to ever go shopping with both girls alone.
I just didn’t think I could do it.
But waiting until my husband came home from work at night or doing all the shopping on the weekends just didn’t fit in with my schedule.
So, when my baby was a few months old, I decided to risk it one day. I actually did it on a whim. “Hey, maybe I can do this,” I thought.
Once inside, I realized it was a little too close to lunch and naptime for my toddler, and she promptly proved she was not in the mood to grocery shop. She had a major meltdown, and yes, I appeased her with a cookie.
When she continued to cry for a second cookie after the first was gone, I completely ignored her. Yes, that was me glancing at the marked-down meats as if nothing were wrong while my toddler screamed at the top of her lungs.
Things have since gotten better. Here’s what I’ve learned about avoiding meltdowns in the grocery store:
1. Never go to the store around a mealtime or naptime.
It’s a given that your child will want to eat everything on the shelves and will have a meltdown at some point during the trip. Try to go during a time of day when you know your child is generally cheerful!
2. Take a snack with you.
Eating food before paying for it is a desperate measure. Most stores don’t seem to mind if you bring in a small snack and a sippy cup for your child. Try to bring a snack that takes a little longer to consume, so they’ll stay occupied longer. These snack cups are great for carrying treats on the go and keeping kids from eating too much at once!
3. Search for a parking space close to the door or cart return.
It’s a lot easier to immediately put your kids in the cart this way.
4. If possible, avoid the bakery and candy aisle.
What toddler wouldn’t get upset when you stroll by sweets and tell them they can’t have them? Hey, I’m excited, too, when I see Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups within arm’s reach, but I have the self-control to resist. Most children are still learning that discipline. Why not avoid the temptation altogether?
5. Take advantage of in-store samples and free cookies at the bakery.
If you do have to go by the bakery aisle, stop by the free samples counter FIRST so they can munch while you shop.
6. Accept help.
I’ve never been one to let an attendant wheel my cart to my car, but I’ve learned it helps … especially when I have one cartload of food and another cart holding the girls by the end of the trip.
Most of all, mama, make sure to give both your kids and yourself GRACE! This stage of life has its challenges, but keep a positive outlook, do the best you can, and try to enjoy those special moments, too–like watching your toddler wave to everyone or get excited about helping you put things in the cart. Take a deep breath and remember: grocery store meltdowns will pass!
What are your tips for avoiding meltdowns at the grocery store?
Dear Mom of a Screaming Kid at the Grocery Store
*This column first appeared in the April 25 edition of the Mooresville Weekly.
Never be afraid to walk out. You can always come back and get what you need later. I will just scoop up my kid and walk out. We can only do things when she is ready, and clearly she is not.
My mom is a cashier and she has said she would muuuuuuch rather put away groceries than her screaming all day long. We are a community, and we need to remember that we do not always come first.
What a great point! Thank you … and your mother! : )
I know in our situation, it isn’t possible to just leave and come back. Sadly I have had screaming toddlers in the line as I try to finish up, we live an hour to an hour and a half from the grocery store so a quick trip back doesn’t work. Thankfully I can usually try to hurry through but there are days everyone is screaming (mom on the inside).
Also I do the month shopping trip because we do live so far away so it is more of an ordeal than I would like but I have to do what works. Looking forward to seeing what other moms do, needing suggestions 🙂
I also live an hour away from a good grocery store. We have a Mart with Walls in the next town over, but to get really good produce and better tasting milk we have to drive. My problem isn’t my 3 year old or my 8 yr old daughter, its my 8 yr old son. In recent years he’s gotten overwhelmed when we grocery shop. I try to shop without the twins, but it isn’t always possible. One thing that does help is giving the kids an ad, clipboard and pencil to find things that they think we need. I also have been known to hand him my phone and have him read the grocery list to me. His doctor also recommended having soothing sounds on my phone or mp3 player for him when I see a meltdown starting.
I have a toddler and a baby, and I too never thought I would be able to manage them both!
Here are some tips that help me:
– I actually do plan grocery shops to line up with one of the baby’s naps. I wear him in a baby carrier and he usually sleeps while I shop.
– I talk to my toddler pretty much constantly as we go through the shop, telling her what I’m looking for and sometimes letting her put things into the trolley.
Good Mama … Thank you, dear … I’ll pass that on at my church … I try to be a Titus 2 woman
This is absolutely the best suggestion! I talk to my kids all through the store about what we’re looking for, what we are seeing, “oh my… did you see that… they have three colors of apples in the bins today! Do you see three colors? What colors can you see?” “Wow, this pineapple feels interesting… do you want to touch it? What do you think it feels like?” Now, given, this technique doesn’t always work – and it may right well annoy everyone else in the store…… BUT, it works most of the time and it keeps my kids from tearing the place down can for can.
I still do this with my 10 and 9 year old.
I love that you have these conversations with your kiddos. However as a fellow consumer and someone with a weakened immune system I beg of you Please Please Please do NOT EVER let your kids touch fruits and veggies that you don’t intend to purchase yourself. As even after being cleaned the bacteria and germs can make it into the part of the produce that is going to be eaten. It even makes me leary when I see adults doing this. However most adults are a little more aware of the things they touch and where they put their hands.
Very good point! Thank you.
Awesome, I do talk to my 3-yr old, too. However, I don’t always talk the truth. :))). If he sees and wants (an interlinked whim) something (a toy or cookie, etc.), I say, Wow, that is a cute toy, but it is for babies, not for you. You are a toddler. Then, I repeat this every time he does his act. He puts it back right away. Sometimes I say, let’s find something (a toy, etc.) for you, not for a baby. Then, if he picks something that doesn’t pass the baby-argument, I say, wow, this is $9 umi dollars (Umi from Umizoomi TV show). Do you have any Umi Dollars? He says, no, and I say, well, we need to go home & search for some. He agrees. I am so content of my acting skills! Like they say, Sincerity is the Key in Success; as long as you fake it very well.
Good luck, Moms! Please share your tactics, too!
Funnily enough, my tip is to take them into the grocery store as soon as you can! My kids have both come shopping with me since just a few weeks old, as parents we teach them by example what ‘normal’ is. I have a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old and honestly, we’ve only ever had one melt down (I took my firstborn shopping before breastfeeding, lol. I took him to the nursing rooms and went back to shopping afterward). Another tip is to engage the children in the shopping. My 3 year old and I have great conversations about what colour the apples are, doesn’t that brocolli look like a tree? and what kind of nappies should we get for your sister today? 🙂
Wonderful! Good mommying! ♡ Your children are really blessed.
I don’t deal with meltdowns as much anymore since my youngest is almost five (although he will have a temper tantrum every now and then if he can’t have what he wants). My biggest issue is my nine year old. He just drives me nuts. The constant touching things, running around and plain misbehaving. He is more difficult to deal with than my youngest. I have actually put him in the corner at the store!!
oh my word im totally with you, my older kids are the problem. Glad Im not alone 😉
Hi! I guess you may try with your 9-yr old this tactic (I tried, it worked for me with my son) : on your way to the grocery store, in the car, tell him that you expect him to behave during the grocery shopping, and expect him to help you with his little brother, as you will need to pay attention to the items you need to buy. You will rely on him for that. If this “strategery” fails, you calmly tell him that if he doesn’t behave…Well, dear Jimmy, I guess you want to give up on your playing football or going to swim (etc) with your friends this Saturday OR ______ anything that you know he likes to do /planned to do in the days ahead of him. You give him the power to choose. Not your fault if he loses those perks.
Then, you have to follow up on your “warning”. Hope it helps. Also, please, talk always in the calmest (but leader-ish) tone. Yelling doesn’t help; trust me on that! 🙁 🙁
I started bringing my kiddos when they were just babies. As soon as my daughter was old enough to want things, we made a deal that as long as she was a good girl during the whole trip, she could pick out a treat for herself. I only had to deny her a couple times for bad behavior. She’s been an angel in the store ever since and loves to shop with me because she knows she’ll get a treat!
I too have been taking my 5 yr old since she was born. We now have a 10 month old in the mix. I think the number one rule is to watch what you get them used to. Meaning if they think a trip to the grocery store means a toy or picking out candy, well it will ALWAYS mean that. However if a trip to the grocery store means riding around in the cart, having conversations with Mommy while enjoying a snack from home then that is what they will expect. Now that my 5 yr old can’t ride up top she rides in the buggy and as soon as possible we head to the book section so she can pick some out to look at while we shop. She loves it and never ever complains or expects to get something. Because I never got her into the habit of getting anything. Thus avoiding meltdowns altogether. I agree so much with not going during a naptime or with a hungry kid, that should be a no brainer. Also it’s important to enjoy your child, because soon they will be too big to fit in that cart and you will miss squeezing their little legs and grabbing a kiss when you want it. So, put down the phone and talk to your child, you won’t regret it. Great post!!!!
I have a toddler girl and baby boy. I try to go as early as possible. Less people and they have usually already eaten breakfast so they aren’t very hungry . Our store has a toy aisles so I avoid those if I can. Talking to my toddler helps and getting her involved , like giving her things to put in the cart helps too.
I have 3 boys. Ages 4, 3, and 2. We always go to the same stores on the same day every other week at the same time. It seems to help when they know whats coming and they know what is expected of them. We have a “pep talk” in the car as we find a parking spot. We go over everything we need to do while in the store. We always park by a cart return or a curb so the kids have some where to stand while we’re getting out. We also made up a game called “make a train” where we all hold hands and walk across the parking lot. When we are packing our groceries at Aldi, they sit on the bench and they all get a granola bar and a drink. If we go to the bank first we will get suckers and that is another “prize” they get to earn when we are done at the 2nd store. Along with a Mary Poppins bag full of all sorts of tricks, we get through it ok 🙂 Now that I’ve written it all out, it seems like I work really hard!
We have three kids, and homeschool. Honestly, over the past year we have started doing most of our grocery shopping online. The four and six year-old help me put together the order (lots of good skills there), and if we hit a certain amount (usually 9 or 10 days worth of groceries), we get free delivery. In addition to that, I typically do one or two small trips with all three kids–mainly for fruit and milk.
My main advice would be not to do a huge shopping trip with multiple kids in tow. Make a list. Know what you are buying, and have the older children help with getting things, checking prices and such. I know the signs say not to put children in the cart itself, but I find it easier to put our toddler in the toddler seat of the cart (or carry her on my back), the four-year-old sitting in the cart itself and having the six-year-old walk alongside the cart. He tends to be pretty active, but if he is my designated helper he does fine. When we check out, I take the four-year-old out of the cart and the two older kids put everything onto the belt while I find my card.
I have been known to open a box of treats for the toddler (paying for it when we check out, of course) but I tell the older kids that we are only doing it because she is a baby. I agree-bringing something is best.
Visit the aquarium of the market-meet the lobsters in the tank and the other fish. Check out the bakery and their character themed cupcakes-which one do you recognize. Look at the artwork in the ceiling, what sounds do those animals make. In produce have them feel see and touch the exotic fruits. Let them weigh and label your produce.
Also it helps that their is a train in our store.
I have three, I make sure all three have been gone potty or fresh diapers. I stick to the cart with the kids closest to me and attach an iPad to the cart. And there is nothing like a bagel to keep the mood down while shopping.
Don’t shop when the kids are tired or hungry. Give one warning and if the kid(s) start up,as was mentioned above,leave the store.
Don’t scream, yell or call your kids names like “your so bad” “your a brat” ect,,because it never works and they learn how you really feel about them.
It makes matters worse not better.Plus it makes you the mom look like a very poor parent. No need for two tantrumers(mom and child) just leave the store if needed,but without yelling at them on the way. Be very matter of fact “you can’t behave so we’re going home”.
I have taken a few minutes before leaving the house to draw a seperate list for my son to have. I would draw quick pictures of bananas, apples, bread, and other items that he could help pick out. You could even take a few crayons so he could color them in while shopping. Then he feels like a big helper with his list as he helps me keep an eye out for those grocery items. He carries a crayon to “check them off” as we go and we avoid boredom and frustration. Its also fun to see him feel like such a big helper for me!
At our Safeway, they have free walking wifi. I bring my iPad and turn on Netflix or download a movie onto it and put my son in the big part of cart with a blanket. Since I do not take my son to the store when shopping a big amount of items I usually have plenty of room!
My kids are 3 & 5 now, so we have added fighting to our grocery store trips. And honestly, sometimes a bribe (I like to call it a reward) is the only thing to get me through. We start at the opposite end of the store from produce and if they have behaved when we get to the produce aisle they can have one of those 50 cent fruit roll-up thingy’s that are in every produce department (I always wanted those when I was a kid and my mom always said no, so I know they are oddly special!). The checker is always happy to scan the empty wrappers and my shopping trips are way more successful. My other secret is that one of our stores has very nice “car carts” that have a special magic with my kids. That store is more expensive, but if I just need a few things and know I don’t have the emotional stamina, we’ll go there.
We’re like that too. If my kids behave well in the store, especially if it’s a big shopping trip that’s over an hour, I will let them get the free cookie.
Consistent parenting across the board helps to avoid meltdowns in the store. My children know that when I say something, I mean it. I don’t make meaningless threats about consequences for bad behavior. My older children are a great help in the store and everyone knows that stores are full of things we can’t always have. My children know that we go to the store to get what we need. If one of them says they want something we have a talk about what’s neat about it and they can ask for it for their birthday or Christmas. It makes a conversation. I’ve never left the store for one of my kids throwing a fit bad I think that is silly. I’m not at the store for a fun thing to do with my kids. I’m there out of necessity and it’s not usually the most fun thing for my kids either. They don’t dictate when we are able to get provisions for our family. I am a very considerate person but I have every right to be there as a paying customer with needs. I’m doing my job as a parent by working with my children to learn how to behave in the store but if they throw a fit I’m not going to fetter them home immediately so that you can have a peaceful shopping experience. I would tell the person who feels like stores should be devoid of crying children to get real. That family’s need for food trumps your want for a cry-free grocery shopping experience. That is the person I would tell, “It’s not always about you.” Not the mother who is trying to get food to take home to her family. I also see no shame in opening a snack for my child to consume and I have never had a problem with doing so. I’m a regular and honest customer. We live some distance from the store and have a large family. We give the store an incredible amount of our income. If I were treated like anything less than a valued customer, I would shop elsewhere.
I don’t think the point of leaving the store is so that other customers can have a pleasant experience. I think it’s to show your child that throwing fits doesn’t get them what they want and so that WE can have a pleasant experience. It makes it harder for ME to do things properly with a screaming baby/toddler. In my experience and observations, ignoring a problem like that doesn’t make it go away; it reinforces the behavior.
I am a grandma now and take my granddaughter shopping with me and have since she was little, I have a bit more disposable income than when my kids were little…that to say I will buy her things if she asks nicely as we go through the store.
But nonetheless I don’t remember much in the way of melt downs from my kids, I would have not allowed it and reminded them that I do have a wooden spoon in my purse and could take them to the bathroom and use it if needed. That was usually enough, i seldom had to use that spoon.
But if hungry I got a banana or a box of animal crackers for them to munch on throughout the store. I always had the checker way the largest banana of the bunch a second time so it got paid for.
I also would discuss what was in our surroundings and when old enough have them look for the items on my list.
I always talked to my kids engaged them, and I had them bring a small toy to play with where ever we went..when waiting at the doctors I would have a bag of toys, food drinks maybe a few crayons and books – I do that with my granddaughter now..we never go anywhere empty handed…and yes I have a phone for some games, but rather she used her own imagination – that way we can “play” together as she is busy with her toy making them dance or what ever…i can join in and pretend with her.
I Bring a laptop or portable dvd player with their fav movie, strap them in the car buggies with the steering wheels, place the laptop in the part of the cart where a toddler would normally sit if it werent a “car buggie” WORKS LIKE A CHARM!!!!
I work as a cashier in a big box store and I’m also a Mom and Grandmother. The biggest problem I’ve had is shopping when children are tired or stressed.
Please don’t be afraid to leave if your child is having a melt down, believe me we cashiers appreciate not hearing a screaming child while we are attempting to check you out. I’m trying to help you leave the store with the items you need but if your child is having a meltdown we will hold your items until you can come back later. Your child needs something and parents must realize that need MUST be met at that time.
As a Mom I took my children everywhere with me. They learned that if their behavior was a problem we would walk out, especially in church. When they could behave we would go back in and if it happen again out we would go. If we were shopping we would interact while we traveled thru the store. If we had a problem we out we would go.
Hope this helps.
1. I try to get mine used to going to the store by going when there’s less of a crowd and when there’s fewer items to get.
2.Always bringing a snack/juice cup is a big help
3. I used one of those Little Tikes grocery carts (bigger/sturdier) and would have my daughter push that with items in it.
Lydia @ The Thrifty Frugal Mom
Great tips! I go shopping a lot with my 3 kiddos and I’ve found it very helpful to also go over my expectations of what I expect of them behavior wise before we go into the store. Yes, they know it, but somehow being reminded of it is helpful!
My son likes to feel like he’s a part of whatever we’re doing whether it is at the grocery store or anywhere else. I believe children behave best when they feel like they’re contributors. He’s only 2 1/2, but I talk to him about what we’re looking for and what we’re going to cook with it, ask if he can “find” it for me, give him items to put in the cart, ask him which of two cheeses we should buy, what color a particular item is, whether we should buy apples for tomorrow’s snack, etc. (These conversations usually begin at home, i.e., “today we’re going grocery shopping. what should we put on our list.” He loves to make “lists”…crayon scribbles he tells me say “sweet potatoes”, “pomegranate seeds” etc., LOL.) None of this takes much extra time. I always shop with a list, and we don’t shop in enormous supermarkets, so we go through the store quickly. And I make sure we have snacks, esp. as we approach all the tempting stuff within reach at check out. Of course, I avoid shopping at mealtime or naptime. We’ve brought him grocery shopping with us since he was an infant, so we’ve had our share of rough shopping trips. Still, I don’t talk to him in advance about behaving in the store. I don’t want him to see shopping as something he has to “get through”, but rather as a family activity to enjoy. When we’re getting back in the car on the way home, I tell him he was SO helpful, SO patient, etc. (or…on the other hand…that he shouldn’t shriek when he feels impatient and wants my attention, but should instead talk to me, etc.) Of course, it’s a work in progress, and I’m sure the dynamic will change when #2 comes along!
As a mom of five. 14, 10, 9, 4 and 1 month. I find summer to be the hardest time to shop because they are all out of school. The 14 year old has behavior issues and can not be left home alone or alone with his brothers, so we all go. I make sure the baby has just eaten and my daughter (4) isn’t tired. I strap baby on So I have the whole cart empty. All the kids take turns finding and putting things in the cart. They are allowed to suggest things, but with the understanding that I might say no. Our budget is very tight. The cookie from the bakery comes near the end of our shopping and only if they have been good during the trip. This way I can check out and pay while they enjoy a snack and a drink from the water fountain. This seriously cut down on the grabbing and asking for every candy and toy by the register. (Thank you for that btw marketing geniuses) God willing, I have finished paying by the time they are done snacking. We head to the car where the boys load the groceries and I load the little ones. Succes! Added bonus to taking them all, they get a first hand look at what a week of groceries cost and have been much better about moderation and not wasting food. Still though, the Times I go with just the little ones seem so much easier. NEVER thought I would say that.
Wanted to say thank you. You inspired me to start blogging too. Just getting started. Mycrazywonderfullife.mobi let me know what you think and I’m open to any advice you might have!
I would wait until the kids were in bed and go then! My stores didnt close until 10 at the earliest, most open 24 hours. I LOVED those trips without my kids! At first it was cute when my son would grab a tomato right in front of the lady stocking the produce, especially at 16 mo old and saying mater! Yeah, ill take a midnight trip anyday! I still do it even with them all teenagers. I have 3 that are less than 3 years apart. Yes I know im crazy 🙂
When my third child was 2, he began having serious behavior issues beyond what was normal even for a “terrible two.” It took about a year to figure out the cause and treat it. In the meantime we had to buy groceries. Since there were no “good times” to take him anywhere (before/after/during nap or mealtimes was all the same) and there was no way to appease him, I simply had to ignore all the dirty looks and comments. He would scream at the top of his lungs the entire time we were in the store, up and down every isle, through the checkout, and out the door. By the time we got out to the car, I wanted to cry too. My advice to parents in similar circumstances is to learn to ignore the dirty looks and comments, knowing that they don’t have to deal with it once they leave. Even learn to ignore the screaming (if there isn’t anything that you can do to comfort them) for the sake of your own sanity. I realize this advice doesn’t put me in the Mother of the Year category, but sometime the best you can do is just survive until things get better. There are no quick fixes that will make the shopping trip you need to do today any better, but do some research online, at the library, with your pediatrician, and over time you may find ways to help your child. In the meantime, don’t let anyone make you feel like a bad parent, or that you have a bad kid.
Don’t be afraid to involve your kids in the process, kids get bored quickly and have small attention spans so make it a game….can you help mommy find the milk? Ok so we need eggs cheese and juice, can you remember those few things from the list? Or for smaller ones play I spy (can you find something blue?)
My daughter has always been extremely hyper and active so at a very young age I’ve had to distract her and then budget and plan for a small snack my daughters favorite was chips, get them before you start shopping and let her have them while you shop getting a .50 cent treat before even starting makes it fun for them.
Make it a big deal to visit the lobster tank where we love we have a pet section that sells pet fish we do some shopping then we see lobsters then if they earn it they get to see the fish.
Children are meant to be engaged I’m so surprised at how many moms never say a word to their children while they are shopping (trying to concentrate I know)
Just engage them 🙂
The grocery store, the mall, restaurants that are large have always been a huge stressor for my youngest. I have 3 kids and was very blessed with the first 2. My oldest daughter loves everything social and doing active things so shopping was a joy with her(you all know the older ladies that stop and Ohhhh and ahhh over the cutie pies-well she ate this up!) my son has always been easy going and also was a breeze through the store. Now my youngest was a shock to my system from very early on. From the very beginning she loathed crowds of people. She Would scream and cry almost anywhere but home. She really disliked grocery stores and restaurants. She is 6 now, and we still have a difficult time. I try to get my shopping done while they are in school, but that isn’t always possible(you know, treats for a school party or items forgotten or just busy weeks) Here are A few things I have found helpful tho…
1. This is probably the most helpful. I try to shop at the smallest places. “Mom and pop shops”, little delis, farmers markets. I try to avoid the big grocery stores like walmart. Although sometimes it’s unavoidable, I’ve found the meltdowns to be far worse in the bigger stores. I’ve actually discovered I save a ton of money this way too. I have specific lists for each place that I go and I avoid overspending on unnecessary stuff. Aldis is even better. Same goes for restaurants. I have found the smaller the building, the less people, the less chaos, and the less stress it brings to all.
2. I bribe to avoid bribing. When I make my shopping list, I tell each of the kids(budget permitting) that they can each pick one item that they would like for breakfast, one for lunch, one for dinner, and one snack idea. It has to be chosen in advance and written on the list. This helps to avoid begging and whining for extras when they see them. This is also a great way to teach them how to make lists and stick to them. Occasionally at the end of a shopping trip, I will reward them for good behavior. (I know they say it’s wrong to reward with sweet treats, but what kids don’t like candy? Lol) but they know that it ONLY happens when they were exceptionally well behaved and helpful the ENTIRE time and they are not to ask for it.(it rarely happens lol)
3. Involve them. Don’t just drag them around with you. Ask for opinions and input. Keep the conversation going. Even toddlers and babies want to feel involved. So keep some attention on them.
4. Discipline and consequences. Once they reach the age of understanding right from wrong. Give them a consequence for poor behavior. Grounding, time outs, spanking, or whatever your method of choice is, just remember that discipline should not be a public display and it should be followed through on. Do not give empty threats. I have been guilty of this in the past. They pick up on it quick!
5.Try to remain calm. Remember that it is only temporary. Ignore the judgmental looks and keep pushing forward. If you need to excuse yourself and your child, by all means, but don’t bottle up all that tension. Take a quick trip to the restroom. Time out. Breathe. And return again to what you’re doing.
Remember that Sometimes there’s just no avoiding it. It happens. Just handle it with grace and know that you’re not alone. This is a normal part of raising children. Every parent has experienced a meltdown and if they say they haven’t, they’re lying.
My 2 year old always has a temper tantrum when we’re in the grocery store. I have learned the power of getting out of the grocery cart seat. IF he is calm and agrees to walk with me in the aisles (not run away), I will let him out of the seat and allow him to walk with me. Then I hand him items and let him put them in the cart. If he starts to misbehave by running away from me or taking items off the shelves, I’ll put him back into the grocery cart seat. Allowing him to help me and walk along side me really cuts down on the tantrums.
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
These are all great ideas. I definitely make it a practice to park near the cart return. For me, that is much more important than being close to the store! (I have a 4yo, a 2yo, and a baby).
I just have one more tip to add. I regularly take my kids grocery shopping alone, (and I actually enjoy it…usually). One of the biggest things that has made our shopping trips more enjoyable is to not try to rush through it. When I’m trying to hurry, I forget things or get stressed out by my kids “interrupting” the process. We typically walk through the store at a slow pace, stopping to talk to anyone who wants to chat, and asking/answering questions about the produce, meat, etc. The kids share what they like eating, we discuss food groups, look for letters, etc, (not all in one trip, though!).
I usually avoid the cookies because if they are already having a hard time, sugar probably isn’t going to help them have self-control. I do let them have other ‘treats’ like crackers, or a cheese snack, or something like that which we don’t regularly purchase.
So much judgement on the facebook page. Wow. Anyway, I used to be one of those people. Shaking my head and saying my child wouldn’t dare. It worked for my first two children. They *didn’t* dare try that mess with me. Then my third came along. He was stubborn. Turns out he also had food allergies that affected his behavior. Gluten was the main culprit but he also had sensitivities to dairy, peanuts, corn and yeast. I didn’t find that out until he was four though so from the time he was about 1 1/2 it was an ordeal to take him to the store. He also has sensory issues and those strobing fluorescent lights used to just set him off. Then when his baby brother died, he became completely insane. I thank God I had a very strong 12 year old who didn’t mind helping me chase him down and drag him out of the store kicking, biting, punching and screeeeeeeeching like nothing you’ve ever heard or else my family would have never had groceries. Sorry, but my husband could not stay home from work whenever he felt like it in the day time so I could shop by myself and my son’s issues just got worse at night so that wasn’t happening.
I got the dirty looks, the head shakes, the unasked for advice by the child experts. (Yeah, like I could actually hear them over the screeching.lol) Most of the time I just kept on and ran through the store as fast as I could. Thankfully the cashiers were usually helpful and got us out of there as quickly as they could and I finally accepted their offers to take my cart out to my van and it was *so* appreciated.
Once we figured out the food intolerances that affected is behavior and after he had a little bit of time to start processing the loss of his brother he started to be able to hear me and understand that there would be consequences for his behavior. There had always been consequences before, so for anyone who might judge, don’t. He never got away with any of it. I know some people would have been more satisfied to see me whoop him with their own eyes but sorry, I wasn’t about to lose him to CPS and do it in public. A calm spanking for bad behavior is no longer acceptable in society as it was back in the day.
I think the only time it actually got to me was the last time my son flipped out in the grocery store. We were getting ready to move away from a place that my son and I dearly loved. The place where my baby boy was buried. I was going to have to leave his grave unattended and I was heartbroken. We’d gotten my son off his trigger foods and he was making a lot of progress. We’d even gone to the park so my daughter could play with her friend one last time before we left. We stopped by the store on the way home and as soon as we turned the corner my son started screeching and threw himself on the floor. I couldn’t control him at all so I just grabbed him, wrapped my arms and legs around him, held him tightly and cried while he screamed and tried to flail. Thankfully the only person who tried to talk to me was a cashier who kindly asked if I needed any help.
So, for anyone out there who wants to judge, please remember that you really don’t know what someone has been through.
These days, I smile and nod when I see someone going through that. Hopefully they understand that I’m trying to let them know I’ve been through it many times too and that I don’t judge them. If I can, I offer to help. Funny thing is no one has taken me up on it yet but I still offer.
Your list is a very good one. For someone whose child is not going through grief or food allergies, it would probably help immensely. Heck, it might even help a little for someone who is going through those things. I like that you wrote about your experience because so many times mom’s feel like they’re the only ones and your article shows that’s not the case. 🙂
Oops. *moms* not mom’s.
My second child has been very difficult to take grocery shopping. But so called ‘bad behaviour’ always communicates something, and in my daughter’s case (and in the case of many children at the supermarket), sensory overload is often the cause.
I think the hardest grocery trips for me were the ones I “had” to take after church on Wednesdays while pregnant with our 5th. I had my smallish one year old strapped to my front in a wrap, lifted my three year old twin boys into the cart and had my 5 year old walk alongside. They were always hungry and tired by that time, but they were necessary trips 🙂 I would sing to them, and we would talk about everything under the sun, while I waddled as quickly as I could from the milk aisle at one end of the store, to the bread aisle on the clear other side. No, they weren’t perfect, but we were working at home on how they were supposed to behave at the store…quiet voices, no touching things, no begging for treats after mommy says no,,,etc. Making the trips much easier, since they knew how I expected them to act.
I know it’s so hard! It sounds like you’re doing a great job, though!
If you want to look at it from a psychological standpoint, ignoring the child is best. Easier said than done when your 5 year old is banging their head on the floor. Kid screams/pouts/cries, mom gives them attention. Attention in the form of food, a toy if they stop, a trip to the candy aisle when the shopping is done. They learn that screaming and crying is rewarded with stuff. OR on the negative side… Mommy screams at them, they got the attention they wanted, they’ve learned that screaming and crying is rewarded with attention. Its hard to do (and kind of embarrassing) but you have to ignore you kids when they do that stuff.
my daughter is 22 months and we frequently go to the grocery together. I’ve learned to shop produce last so she doesn’t fight me the entire time to eat the grapes. I also try to purchase a can or box of something she can play with. Just our last trip she got a big kick out of helping out things on the belt. This was great for keeping her little patties from grabbing at the candy during check out.
The answer I have found to be true is doing home training way before the incident arises. For example, during a quiet moment, praise your toddler or preschooler for his quiet voice and say that when we go to the store, we use our quiet voices because we are not the only people in the store. Talk about how it makes him feel when he sees a child break down in a store and then pretend to be in a store and what would be the best way to act in a store. Basically teach, teach, teach. This does require thought beforehand and you have to seize those teachable moments, even if you feel like zoning out for just a minute. At one time I had a 5,3, and 1 year old, so I know what it’s like to be tired and just want a moment of peace. For more on home training, please visit www.cultivatingahome.com, the website of my very good friend who taught me about home training. And she’s the mom of 6 kids, so she has been there and done that.