Let’s face it – sometimes it’s easier to leave the kids at home when you go to the store.
And sometimes that’s a good idea, if you can manage it.
But, your kids need to learn how to behave in public, and how to obey you no matter where you are, even at the store. Leaving them home all the time isn’t the answer either.
So here are 5 tips that can help make kid-included trips to the store more peaceful for everyone:
1. If they’re very young (4 and under)…..do your best to plan in advance. Whenever possible, make sure your child isn’t tired, hungry or wet before you head for the store. Maybe even have a healthy snack along. And keep your trip short – don’t expect a child this young to be able to go for hours and hours.
2. Talk with them first. Give your child fair warning as to the purpose of this trip, and let them know in advance if they will be getting anything. I personally don’t think children need us to buy them something every trip. But it’s only fair to let them know ahead of time. And once in while, it’s okay to get them a treat if they behave well.
3. If they’re older (5 and over)….. get your child involved in the process – let them be your helpers. If you’re grocery shopping, assign them to run and get things (if they’re old enough), or choose things off the shelf for you. If you’re shopping for Gran’s Christmas gift, get their input and let them be part of choosing her gift (even if you know what you want to get). It’s a great chance to bond with your child, give them ownership and responsibility, and be excited when Grandma opens her gift. It’s a win-win.
4. Correct them if they need it. Remember, the Bible gives children one commandment for their life – obey your parents (Eph. 6:1). Crying because you say no, running away, etc. isn’t the same as obeying, and needs correcting. Please don’t just walk away from a child having a tantrum – that’s not correction. It’s inconvenient, but it’s important to take them to the car and correct them right then. I promise, if you do it a couple times, you won’t have to do it again. (for more about God’s method of correction, check out Parenting With a Purpose in the bookstore).
5. Be safe. It’s a good idea to contain small children by putting them in a grocery cart (only sitting please!) or stroller. I’m even a fan of leashes, etc. because it helps you keep track of a child in a crowd. That’s up to you. But be sure to train your child to stay with you.
Bonus tip: This is just my personal opinion, but consider not treating shopping as your family’s main recreational activity. There are so many other great ways to bond and grow as a family, and I’m pretty sure our goal as Christians shouldn’t be to raise a generation of consumers.