Christian Living


The 'Stuff-Mart' Survival Guide

Grocery Shopping
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Many parents of preschoolers would rather get a root canal rather than take their little munchkin to the local discount department store. The primary reason is kiddie meltdown. But it doesn’t have to be this way—here are some tried and true tips to not only survive Stuff-Mart, but to come out smiling.

Before You Shop

Establish Boundaries – On your drive to the store, decide on the limitations you will enforce. For example, each child may spend fifty cents on an item of their choice, or they may choose to spend nothing at all and save the fifty cents. Or this may be a trip where they don’t get money and learn about spending. Reinforce their boundaries and they will know what to expect.

Establish Consequences – While you’re still in the parking lot, let your child know what the consequences will be for whining or throwing a tantrum in the store. It could be the loss of a privilege such as playing with a special friend or watching a favorite cartoon.

Establish Understanding – Have your child repeat the boundaries as well as the consequences. You can help very young children with this by asking, “Did Mommy say you can buy anything you want to on this trip?” Have the child repeat, “Mommy says I can’t buy anything I want to on this trip.” The same goes for the consequences, “What did Mommy say will happen if you whine or act ugly?” Your child will repeat, “Mommy says I won’t be able to play with Ricky this afternoon if I disobey in the store.”

In the Store

Teachable Moments – About once a month, allow your young child to spend fifty cents or a dollar. Tell them they will only have a few choices. Then when they ask for a toy that costs $5, say, “We will have to save our money for that, but your dollar will buy. . . .”

Saving Money – Even a young child can learn to love the fun of spending less at the store. Clip a cookie or candy coupon and let your child buy that item on his own. I once had a coupon for a free King Size candy bar and gave my young son the coupon and a dollar to cover the tax. His eyes got big as the cashier counted out the change as I stroked his hair and said, “You got all this change back because you used a coupon to save money.”

On the Way Home

Positive Praise – Reinforcement is a powerful tool with children. Compliment your child for what he did right while being careful to separate the child from his actions. A child’s actions do not make him a good or bad person, but reinforcing positive actions promotes desirable behavior.

Proactive Praise – A good example of this is the following: “Tommy, you didn’t whine at all and I’m proud of how well you acted.” Rather than saying, “Tommy, you’re a good boy for not whining.”

Protracted Praise – When you’ve had a good trip to Stuff-Mart, make it a point of praising your child’s actions in front of at least one other person. When Daddy comes home you might say to your spouse and in front of your child, “Sweetheart, you wouldn’t believe how well Tommy acted in the store today—he obeyed me and respected the merchandise and used his fifty cents wisely.”


Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
Ellie Kay
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