Tips for Shopping With Your Child


Child Protective Services Hotline
703-324-7400 • TTY 703-222-9452

Anyone who has shopped at a grocery store or a mall with children – especially young children – knows that the experience can sometimes be trying, even highly stressful.

Here are some steps that can change potential misery into potential mastery of shopping with kids.

Plan Ahead:


  • Check attitudes – Is your child too tired or hungry to shop? Are you? If yes, postpone your trip or find a sitter for you child(ren).

  • Explain the Rules – Before entering the store make your expectations clear, such as “Stay close to me” and “Use your quiet voice.”

  • Agree on Rewards for Good Behavior – Keep it simple, such as a choice of a favorite snack food, or a stop at the park. Promise to read a story or play a game at home.

At the Store:


  • Make a Game Out of Shopping – Who can see the bananas? Who can find the shoe store first? Who can see a person wearing red? Which store begins with the letter “t”?

  • Give Children Some Choices – When possible, allow your child(ren) to make some decisions. Blue or red socks? Chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Be prepared to bargain or compromise.

  • Play – “I see something.” Then ask you child(ren) what it is.

  • Praise Your Child – “You are being so helpful.” A hug can be reassuring and say more than words at times.

If All Else Fails:

Remember: Kids will be kids – they are not perfect. Of course, neither are we, but we are the adults.

  • Ignore inappropriate behavior unless it becomes dangerous, destructive, annoying to others, or truly embarrassing.

  • Remove a child who is out of control. Take him to the restroom or out of the store. Tell the child quietly, eye-to-eye, that bad behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

  • Wait (say nothing at all) for the child to calm down, then ask if he is ready to try again.

  • Remember kids will be kids – they are not perfect. Of course, neither are we, but we are the adults.

  • Go home if the child cannot calm down. If the shopping cannot wait, find a sitter and return alone.

Child Protective Services Hotline
703-324-7400 • TTY 703-222-9452




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