Safety first

Take the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions when out shop­ping with your child.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PARENTING -

YEAR-END sales are here. Many par­ents will be out shop­ping with their chil­dren. When I look around the shops, I see par­ents push­ing their tod­dlers in strollers while oth­ers have school-age chil­dren tag­ging along.

Chil­dren’s safety must be top pri­or­ity when par­ents take them shop­ping. Many chil­dren are left be­hind while their par­ents busily scav­enge through piles of stuff on sale.

Dur­ing gro­cery-shop­ping, young tod­dlers are left in shop­ping carts while their moth­ers se­lect the fresh­est fruits in the pile. A stranger could eas­ily push the shop­ping cart away with­out any­one rais­ing an eye­brow. Par­ents some­times as­sume that their chil­dren will be safe.

No child is safe when they are left un­su­per­vised.

Here are five tips on safe and fun shop­ping with your child:

Plan your trip with your child be­fore head­ing out to the malls

Be­fore you leave the house, pre­pare your child’s be­long­ings care­fully. Do in­clude a change of cloth­ing, an ex­tra bot­tle of wa­ter, a snack that needs no re­frig­er­a­tion and a favourite game/toy.

If you have a tod­dler or preschooler, prac­tise some role-play­ing be­fore leav­ing home. Your young child needs to know what to do if she or he can­not lo­cate you. Place a name card with emer­gency phone num­bers in­side the shirt or pants pocket. Do not dress your child in cloth­ing which has his or her name on it. Avoid let­ting your child wear jew­ellery.

Know your child

Know your child’s sched­ule for sleep, meals and quiet time. A young child may not be able to cope with a two-hour shop­ping trip, so cut down your shop­ping time. Your child may feel scared at busy and noisy malls. Avoid tak­ing him to places where he may get anx­ious.

Young chil­dren are nat­u­rally cu­ri­ous. They will want to touch and han­dle things on dis­play. When your child reaches out for the dis­play, tell him: “This beau­ti­ful or­na­ment is break­able. Let’s just look at it to­gether.”

In­fants and tod­dlers

Be con­sid­er­ate when us­ing a stroller or a pram. Many par­ents tend to park the stroller on the side while they look around in the shops. Be vig­i­lant as well, es­pe­cially if your child is sleep­ing in the stroller. If you are tak­ing your baby shop­ping with you, con­sider a shoul­der-car­rier. This will free your hands as well keep your child with you while you browse.

Tod­dlers are ac­tive and do not like to be con­fined to a stroller for a long time. You may want to se­lect shops where your tod­dler can freely move around un­der your con­stant su­per­vi­sion. Get what you want to buy promptly. Sales­peo­ple are not babysit­ters. They can­not be trusted to take care of your child while you take an hour or two to de­cide on your pur­chases.

Crowds are not cool for young chil­dren

Shops are usu­ally crowded dur­ing week­ends, af­ter work­ing hours and dur­ing mega sales. These shop­ping times are very stress­ful for chil­dren. Try to go to the shops dur­ing non-peak times when check-out lanes are not long. Go shop­ping when you are full of en­ergy and able to cope with your child’s needs creatively.

How to say ‘No’ with­out tears

There is al­ways a more pos­i­tive ap­proach to say­ing “No” rather than the flat re­fusal that sends chil­dren bawl­ing and throw­ing tantrums. Choose pos­i­tive in­stead of neg­a­tive words.

Younger chil­dren can be dis­tracted. Say: “You want a treat. Look! I have brought along your favourite snack!”

With older chil­dren, try say­ing some­thing like: “You have cho­sen some­thing very nice in­deed. When we go home, we will add that to your wish list.”

You can also say: “Re­mem­ber we have dis­cussed our bud­get? This item costs more than we can af­ford. You can choose some­thing that we can af­ford.”

Re­mem­ber to give a hug and a smile when say­ing this to your child.

If you are go­ing for fes­tive shop­ping, you may want to do it alone and get a babysit­ter for your child. When shop­ping malls are crowded, there should be one re­spon­si­ble adult to look af­ter the child while the other one shops.

Chil­dren en­joy shop­ping when par­ents spend time and lav­ish at­ten­tion on them. They need short breaks for meals and to use the toi­let. Chil­dren will be­have them­selves when they feel safe and happy.

They need a great deal of pa­tience and at­ten­tion. Help your chil­dren to be well­pre­pared for shop­ping so that they will know what to ex­pect. They have their lim­its. Shop­ping can wait but a tired and hun­gry child can­not.

GPS alert: Your young child needs to know what to do if she or he can­not lo­cate you.

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