CWAHM Devotional

Do Life DifferentDo Life Different
Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
Order Your Copy!

CWAHM Video Devotions

Get Our Updates!

Join our monthly newsletter!


Grocery Store etiquette


shopping cartBrad, you gave us some great ideas for dads to teach kids good behavior in a waiting room situation.  But what about the grocery store?  My kids are unholy terrors when I take them shopping.

Ok, so in actuality no one really asked that question.  But they should have!  Because the grocery store is one of the greatest trials to kids and behavior.  The few times I was threatened with “Wait until your dad gets home . . .” were uttered by my mother at the grocery store.  I don’t remember much of how I misbehaved (especially after the beating I received from my dad for misbehaving– just kidding), but I’m sure I was fighting with my sister, asking for things, and touching everything.  My mom would probably remember more because memory is augmented by trauma.  I probably need to call my mom someday and apologize for every grocery and department store trip I ruined.  However, if Karma is a concept God allows, I am definitely getting my due share of payback.  I have a flexible schedule, so I have been harnessed with doing a lot of the shopping over the years.  It’s not so bad now, but when our kids were little my wife signed us up for some sort of shopping-rating survey system, so shopping was complicated and already felt like it took FOREVER, even without the kids.

Now my boys are almost to the age where I can tell them, “Hey, would you run up to the store and pick us up some bread for dinner?”  Almost.  So I still do the shopping and I frequently view other poor adults struggling to manage kids while they are shopping.

Since I’m a Christ follower, I need to first direct focus on the Bible and see how other people of faith managed the grocery store experience successfully:

They didn’t.

Grocery Stores and Department Stores didn’t exist in Biblical times, so it’s more difficult to get a grip on any of the great Dad-ing techniques of the Bible.  However, I think the entire book of proverbs could be retitled “How to instruct your kids to behave at Walmart.” . . .  Maybe I’ll suggest that to Zondervan.

In all seriousness though, in ‘Biblical times’ kids, even little kids, had some big responsibilities.

“You want to eat dinner tonight toddler?  Good, pull up this row of leeks.”

“You are a preteen Israelite boy, get out there and kill us a goat for dinner.”

“You’d like new socks?  Here, let me show you how to knit.”

Times have changed, but kids are still kids.  They can accept and rise to many challenges and responsibilities.  It does take more time on the front end to teach them.  The typical Israelite dad would have to show his kids the correct way to plant, harvest, thresh . . . but after a few times of instruction, the kids are helping with the ‘grocery shopping’ for the rest of their lives.  That’s worth it.

So, technique #1 to thrive at store shopping with your kids is to….

Give them Responsibilities and teach them how to succeed.  This might require some short, ‘practice,’ trips to the grocery or department store, but it will be worth it.

Speaking of training, I developed a technique to train your kids that could almost be considered sadistic torture.  Take your kids to Toys R Us (or any toy store) and park in the parking lot.  Tell your kids that you are going to go inside with them to look at cool stuff.  But also tell them that you are NOT going to buy anything today.

Then, stick to it.

You can imagine why this could be considered torture to kids.  There are a lot of cool toys, gadgets, dolls, playthings that your kids don’t have and that they want.  That amount of unfulfilled want your kids experience will seem cruel.  But, there is a purpose.  Not only are you training them to curb their own desires as kids, you are also teaching them to temper their desires as adults.  This technique teaches your kids to not whine, cry, or beg for toys or items of interest.  It also teaches them to wait AND to possibly save up money (or do chores) to earn something they really want.  It teaches them to tame their impulses – that’s a great attribute to have as an aspiring adult.

I see a lot of kids that turn this training situation around and instead train their parents/grandparents.  The scenario is this; parent is pushing a cart through the toy section or any section at a department store.  The kid is riding in the cart, or walking beside the cart, and sees something that they WANT.  First the kid usually asks to have the item.  Many parents say no; some even do it firmly.  But, then.  Then the child starts asking, and begging.  I’ve even seen kids go into full, lay-on-the-floor tantrums to get things.   Eventually the parents give in, or in some situations rationalizes this unplanned purchase with a deal, “If you eat all your broccoli tonight, I will get it for you.”

The result is that the child has done some serious training.  They have trained the parent to respond with a reward to whining, crying and fits.  Instead, don’t give in, and show your kids that you can’t be manipulated.

Think Ahead:

Like many of my suggestions for dads – preplan knowing what your kids will be doing.   If you know that your kid is a chronic whiner, then know that they will whine at the store.  If your kids fight, you know they will do it at the store.  We’ve already learned the sadistic torture technique of training your kids not to whine or ask repeatedly, so here are a few other techniques to survive the ‘store’ experience. Remember:  You probably have some great ideas and systems that help your kids survive the store.  Please share them!  When we dads work together to share techniques and ideas, we become unstoppable! – or at least really savvy.

Eat before you go:  For grocery store trips the proverbial wisdom is to not go shopping hungry.  This is especially important for kids.  Feed your kids a LOT before going on a grocery run.  I say a LOT because you don’t want them to run out of fuel right at the end of trip.  You know all that candy and interesting stuff stores place at the checkout aisles?  That is to tempt kids that are hungry and bored.

Throw out your pride:  Your kids are going to act like kids at the store.  They are going to loudly ask embarrassing questions about female hygiene products.  They are going to squeal or make a loud noise.  They are going to run into things and drop things.  Decide for yourself what is MISbehavior and what is just kid behavior.

Don’t be afraid to be silly too.  Make up a song about corn, or a dance.  Walk through the aisle with bread on your head.  Please don’t teach your kids that shopping is a drudgery because I see many adults every week that believe that it is.

Send them on Missions:

First of all, be safe.  Don’t send a little kid to the other end of the store without a sibling or unless he/she is old enough, and trained enough, to cause a scene if anyone molests them.  Show the kids what coffee looks like, or bread, or milk and show them where it is and how to get it.  Then several aisles into your trip when the kids are getting antsy, start sending them on missions.

I frequently would send my kids on “missions” when they were little to get items that were easy to find.  Many times they would be so excited that they would take off in a sprint to get something for me (it was better than sitting still in the cart or walking beside me).  As long as they didn’t bowl over other adults, I let it slide.  However, I had to ‘draw the line’ at playing tag or doing races.

Kids can easily understand the concept of boundaries as long as they are clear.  There is a crack near the end of our driveway that extends all the way across.  I pointed it out to our dog and told him that “This is your line.”  He actually stops at the line, and, he’s a dog; his brain is probably smaller than a walnut.  Our kids, and neighbors also reinforce the limit with our dog– and that is just from overhearing about the crack/line.

The same principle applies to behavior.  The line/crack may be at running in the store.  Or you may decide that squabbling is ok between your kids as long as there is no fisticuffs.  Make the rules/line/crack easy and clear to your kids.

Disciplining in the store:

The hand-hold or cart hold “time out.”  This is a simple one.  If they start to misbehave, they have to hold your hand as you walk through the store.  I’m not sure how this affects girls, but boys hate it.  I also have used the ‘cart-hold’ time out where one hand has to be on the cart at all times.  Notice I said that they have to hold your hand; you don’t need to be grasping theirs in a death grip to keep them from fleeing.

If hand hold or one of the minor disciplines doesn’t work, you may have to escalate to the under-arm pinch (described in my last article) or some other method to let them know that they are on the brink of disaster.

If all else fails, there is another reason that you need to be pride-less at the store as a parent.  You may have to leave your cart in an aisle to take your kid to the car or a bathroom for an “attitude adjustment.”    You will only have to do it once or twice.  And you set president that you will discipline/parent anywhere.  Kids try to test their limits when they think that you are bound by social embarrassment.  When you show them that you will face any shame to make them behave, they will understand and stay within their guidelines.

There are other good ideas, but I want to hear from you first.  To end this article, I’m going to do something a little different.  A question, for you readers; feel free to answer in the comments or on Facebook.  Are you in favor of using the ‘free cookies’ most businesses/groceries offer to help your kids behave in the store?  How do you use the cookies – a reward for good behavior, or to keep them occupied munching while you shop?



Comments are closed.

About CWAHM:

** Disclaimer **
The views expressed by the bloggers on this website are not necessarily the views held by or it's owners. Please see our Statement of Faith for details on what we believe.

About Us | Privacy Policy