There are many reasons why toddlers lose it in the supermarket, however by the time they are smashing their little fists into the linoleum in rage, nobody – least of all the adult associated with the child – is even remotely interested in these reasons. Which is a shame, as they might hold the key to resolving the age-old dilemma of controlling toddler behaviour in public places.
While it should be a quick grab-and-run task, grocery shopping with children can be one of the most arduous items on your list of things to do. The younger the children, the more taxing it becomes. The Family Beast has three tips for scream-free shopping:
1) The first piece of advice is obviously to not take toddlers into supermarkets in the first place. Supermarkets are overwhelming, they are lit with those stark white fluorescent lights that have a subconscious association with institutionalised living – asylums, prisons and high-schools. They have have a vast range of items, covered in aggressive marketing speak, all jostling loudly for your attention. Nothing is ever where it was the last time you were there – even if it was only an hour ago. About 50% of the packaging is designed to appeal directly to the delicate unformed limbic system of the brains of small children. Under these circumstances, it takes roughly 10 minutes for a central core meltdown to occur.
If it is at all possible to not take your children to the supermarket you will find that shopping takes on average half the amount of time and a fraction of the stress.
2) In all reality, there are about three short windows of time during the average family week when the grocery shopping can be done and the opportunity to combine this with child-free time rarely exists. So off you go with your hope, nervous anticipation and shopping list, only to be hit with a wail of nagging that starts at the first display of bright colourful items (never mind it is a special two for one washing powder offer – to a toddler, it looks enticing). One of the best things you can do before you go shopping is to make sure your children have been fed. And we don’t mean a little snack on the way, we mean a great big meal of their favourite low GI food. On top of this, they should have a water bottle and some sugar free snacks with them (or a banana from the vegetable section). If they are busy digesting, there is a chance you won’t be consistently nagged for food from the vegetable section all the way through the 12 aisles to the freezer section.
3) Distract them with a treasure hunt. At the beginning of each aisle, nominate an item per child and send them off to find it. Older children can be given advanced tasks such as finding the required item at the cheapest price. It may take slightly longer to get the job done but the number of advantages here are priceless – your toddler will be too busy feeling important to think about melting down, it will focus their attention on one thing rather than being bombarded by everything, and you get a little – sometimes random – helper. About the worst thing that can happen is that you will be asked to leave the premises, so either way, it’s a win:win.
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