Ideas and tips on making shopping with your toddler a more positive experience.
1. Shopping lists with a difference
Make a picture shopping list with your child. Collect and cut out pictures from magazines, advertisements, the newspaper (wherever you spot them really!) and laminate them. You could make one large list or a pack of smaller cards. I find the smaller cards (A5 or less) work well with my children as they are both under 5’s
Help your child match the pictures to the things you put in the cart. Cover or remove the pictures as you find each item. You could make a tactile bag of things for young children too. Collect together plastic food items and they can then take out a “banana” and hold it while they are helping you to find a real banana in the shop. (remember to take another bag to put all the found items into)
2. Distraction tactics
Keep a collection of shopping time only special all-in-one toys in your car. A portable CD player and head phones with stories or songs on cd, talking books, toys which can be attached to trolley handles and chunky books for smaller children-you could even use ones with fruit or vegetable-food themes. Let your child choose one item to take into the supermarket. Make sure you put it back in your car after you’ve shopped for next time.
3. Pay attention
When your child gets restless, don’t ignore her. Stop shopping, take a break and chat. in short-give her your attention. Tell her that you are not yet done and and that you still need a few more things but that you will be done soon. When I take my 3 year old and 1 year old grocery shopping, I mantain a constant chatter to them both. I have found that with the older one, I can keep her amused so long as we are chatting and looking for things and playing eye-spy games. With my younger one, he is happy if I allow him to hold that crunchy sounding salad bag or sneak open that bread rolls for him to eat. I talk about what colours, shapes and letters can be seen on packaging and allow them to feel the items to tell me if they are cold (they really enjoy touching a bag of frozen peas and exclaiming at how cold it is!)
4. Engage her in the shopping
Make the trip as entertaining for her as possible. Keep asking for her opinion ,especially when shopping for items for her. What brand of toothpaste does she want? What type of shampoo would she like? Giving her choices and respecting her selections make her feel valued and part of the process.
Having a successful shopping trip is entirely dependent on a few simple rules:
*Do some of the tips above
* Don’t shop when they are tired or near to naptime
* Go during quieter times (not straight from school when shops are busiest)
* Stick to your list and don’t dawdle. The less time in the shop, the less likely they are to get grumpy!
I am a preschool and primary school teacher and mum to 3 children. I have been involved in education since 1997 and have trained in a variety of educational specialist areas. It is with this expertise that I write articles to help parents and educators provide quality learning experiences for the children in their care.