I can’t say I’ve never struggled at the supermarket. But since my son and I had to find a way to get along on our shopping trips, I’ll share what’s worked for us.
Catch a thunderstorm in the produce section
Every now and then, we’ll catch one of those little rainstorms complete with thunder, you know, where they’re watering the produce. The produce section is also full of little scales that amuse to no end. It only takes a couple seconds to weigh something, but it gives your baby something to look forward to – and it’s a great teaching opportunity.
Avoid the cereal aisle
Or wherever your local supermarket places all the kids’ temptations. My son is obsessed with Hot Wheels cars. They were always predictably in the middle of the cereal aisle, right at cart-level, so I just learned to avoid that area. I’d leave him next to the Fiber One while I dashed to grab the Cheerios. I may have even given him the iPod at one point to keep him from noticing them.
If he desperately wants something, I might let him hold onto it for a while. He has fun looking at it while I shop, and then he sometimes gets bored of it by the end.
Of course there are times where I’ve ended up actually buying the item, even though my intention is to also teach him he can’t have everything he wants. If he’s good, sometimes I just can’t resist the reward. If he has a meltdown when it’s time to put it back at the end… well, at least I was able to get the shopping done, right?
Show and tell in the checkout lines
No, I don’t mean ogling celebrity photos in the gossip mags! Instead, I showed him every item as I placed it on the moving belt, saying the name. Now that he’s bigger, he tosses stuff on, too.
A chance to teach about money
Sometimes we watch the screen while the items get rung up. He can see the numbers changing. Then I let him swipe my card and guide his fingers in pushing my PIN to complete the transaction. It doesn’t hurt anything to let him push the buttons while the cashier is still ringing up items, either (and what child does not LOVE pushing buttons?)
Surprisingly, Rohan now wants to go to the supermarket with me even when he has the choice to stay home! And it only takes 5 or 10 minutes extra if I take him with me.