Parenting Tip - Shopping

Adoption Foster Care Parenting Tips


Do you remember the first time that you took your foster or adopted child to a store? I do. Our youngest ran behind the checkout counter at the store. The lady was shocked that he was back there. I just wanted to say, “Sorry, he’s not trained yet!” I don’t think he had a lot of experience going shopping before he moved to our home. I think it was a little overwhelming for him. He’s come a long way since that day. Below are a few tips that have made our shopping trips less stressful than the first one!

What do you do at a store when your child sees something that they want? If you tell them no, are they going to make a scene? If they do make a scene, please, do not give them what they want! I’m shocked at how many times, I have seen a child throwing a fit at a store because they want something, and the next thing you know, they are leaving with it in their hand. What is going to happen the next time they take that child to a store? The exact same thing! That child just won the game.

Here’s a tip: take a picture of the item with your phone and then you can add it to their birthday or Christmas wish list. It’s that easy! I have 4 boys and none of them have ever gotten upset in a store because I didn’t buy something for them. I promise! This way, you’re not telling them no. They will hopefully (at least after some training), be happy to have it added to their wish list. If you pretend to be excited about the item, that helps too. Ask them why they like it. Tell them that they should tell Dad or Grandma about it. That way, you’re having a nice conversation with your child while you shop, instead of dealing with an upset child. Also, I always remind them that, just because it’s on their list, it doesn’t mean that they will get it. Most of the time, they have moved on to something else by the time Christmas rolls around anyway. 

Distraction is also a very helpful tool. If they are still focused on the item that they want or if they are bored, give them a task to complete. Here are a few ideas:

  • Can you find something red?
  • Where do you think the bread aisle is?
  • Do you think we can count 20 grocery carts before we leave?
  • Can you name a food that starts with the letter A?
  • We are having tacos for supper? What else do we need to find?
  • Can you find all of the letters of your name on this cereal box?
  • See if they can guess what the next item on the shopping list is. For example, if you need to get shaving cream, “this next item is for Daddy. It’s white. It looks like Cool Whip, but you can’t eat it.”
  • I wonder how many steps it will take us to get to the milk. Let’s count.

If you have a few minutes before you leave, think of some ideas ahead of time. Be creative. Come up with ideas that work best for your child. You could also make a grocery list for them to check off or a scavenger hunt (a cow, someone wearing a hat, a baby, strawberries, something that comes from a chicken, etc.) Sometimes, shopping trips take longer than you would like. If you have a couple tricks up your sleeve ahead of time, then it will help you to be calm when your child gets upset or bored.

Another tip for a peaceful shopping trip with your kids is don’t take them shopping near mealtime. A hungry child doesn’t make a very good shopper. If you have to shop when they are hungry, make sure to have a snack packed in your purse to help hold them over.

Other than that, my best tip for shopping in peace is to go alone! I try to go when they are at school or when my husband is home. With 4 kids, we just take up too much space in the aisle!

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