SHOPPING with children can be a difficult experience at the best of times, with parents often having to be deliberate about avoiding the shops when their child is overtired and emotional.
At Christmas time this can be a particular problem, as bigger crowds and Christmas decorations can overstimulate your child. This can lead to children being pushy about toy or junk food purchases, as well as tantrums. BE PREPARED Plan the time you go to the shops, ensure your child eats before they go out and that they’re not overtired.
Also, before you head off, take the time to explain why you are shopping and what behaviour you expect from them.
Tell them lines might be long and ensure they know you are buying presents for Christmas, rather than something they can have straight away. It’s also a good idea to not make the trip too long, even if it means a return trip. DON’T BE EMBARRASSED If your child does have a tantrum in the shops, or misbehaves by pushing you to buy toys, try not to be embarrassed.
Remember, your fellow shoppers are other parents or have been parents of young children. There’s nothing unusual about a child misbehaving.
If you respond emotionally due to embarrassment, then you may make bad decisions that only worsen the situation. WHAT CAN YOU DO? It’s a great idea to split up shopping by taking a break and enjoying some fun activities with your child.
Most major shopping centres have parent rooms, while shops in the middle of town are often near parks. Take advantage of them!
During Christmas, many shops also put on free kids’ activities, which can be a useful way to break the day up and make shopping easier.
Distractions are also a good idea. Maybe give your child a “treasure” list of things to find or spy at the shops. You could bring a colouring-in book for them to use while you enjoy a coffee break!
Remember to praise your child when they do behave well, don’t give them any pay off for bad behaviour and, most importantly, stay calm when you respond to a tantrum.
If you need more advice, contact the WBHHS child health team on Gayndah – 4161 3571, Mundubbera – 4165 5222, Monto – 4166 9300, Biggenden – 4127 6400, Eidsvold – 4165 7100.