Meltdown in Aisle Five: Top 6 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Calm at the Supermarket

by Samantha on August 2, 2011

How to Go Grocery Shopping With Kids

It’s an inevitability that every parent has to experience. A rite of passage, the “supermarket shakedown” is one that indeed shakes your maternal/paternal resolve to the core. This unique meltdown of sorts is atypical in that it is usually precipitated by the perpetrator’s viewing of candy-coated confections, promptly followed by an unequivocal “No!”.

It’s them or you, the line has been drawn in the proverbial sand (or in the cereal aisle) and the standoff ensues. Will you relent and give in to the demands for chips, cheesies or chocolate? Will you capitulate, in an effort to calm the inevitable tantrums, screams and foot-stomping, or will you stand your ground, repeat the parental party line – “NO!” – and keep walking? Will you too melt down, overwhelmed with the situation at hand and the apparent lack of solution, or will you be strong, be firm in your resolve and let calmer heads prevail? Will you get through your grocery list and not forget the two dozen eggs and bread required for tomorrow’s breakfast??

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The answers to these questions are rooted in one of the anchors of parenthood: being prepared – which will allow you to circumvent the loudest screams and the most extreme meltdowns.

Following are tips for parents on how to go grocery shopping with their children and how to keep kids calm at the supermarket:

  1. A Fed Child is a Happy Child - ALWAYS make sure that everyone is fed before venturing into the cereal aisle. This includes you, mom and dad. You will be less likely to give in to demands for sugar-coated crap on a full stomach.
  2. Ground Rules Rule - Make it clear to the kids before you go to the supermarket that under NO circumstances will you be veering off your shopping list. At all. No sugar-coated cereals, no candy-covered chocolates and no chips or cheesies.
  3. Case the Joint - Supermarkets have this annoying habit of changing their floor plan every so often, in order to force you to go down aisles that you didn’t plan to before. This is to assure that you (and of course your kids) will be caught by surprise by the “new and improved” chocolate-coated marshmallows in aisle three that you were trying to avoid. If you can, make a mental note each visit of any changes regarding where food is positioned and keep them in mind before you venture into the vast expanse of food with the kids in tow. It will save you not only your nerves (not having to listen to screaming demands for goodies) but your sanity as well. Which leads us to tip #4:
  4. Cows and Chickens First – Go down the dairy aisles first – they are usually located at the furthest expanses and corners of the stores. There is method behind this madness with supermarket planners and marketers realizing that making you pass all of the enticing items, foods and sale products before getting to the staples – milk, eggs and cheese – may make you give in to your (and you kids’) primal desires. Don’t fall for it. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t walk – run with your shopping cart – to the staples. Once you’ve got them, high-tail it out of there, if you can.
  5. Make a List, Check it Twice – Not only will having a pre-written list in advance save you from the horror of the latest sale on bulk-sized cheesies, but it will keep you focused and on your game as well. Plan your week’s menu in advance, check your fridge and pantry/cupboards and make your list. Refer back to tip #2 and reiterate to the kids that you have a list and are not buying anything that’s not on it. If the kids are too small to understand, resort to Parenting 101: Bribery, Negotiations and Threats if necessary. Really.
  6. Diversion Tactics – You will need these, particularly when you finally dodge the sugary crap and make it to the checkout. This is where they really get you – and your kids. Feeding upon our human nature to “impulse shop” as well as the fact that a large number of us will have our kids with us, candy bars, useless electronic gadgets, comics and National Enquirers will stare you down. Don’t stare back and don’t let your kids stare back either! Pull out your bribes items from home, such as new stickers, a coloring book or similar and keep the kids occupied at this crucial time in the shopping process.
  7. So you see, shopping with kids can be done. All it takes is a little planning, determination and a resolve. Okay, perhaps nerves of steel as well ;)

    How do you get through grocery shopping with the kids? What works best for you?

How to go grocery shopping with kids

To read this article on Lifehacker, CLICK HERE.

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