The Richmond Register

August 20, 2013

Plan and prepare children for grocery shopping

By Gina Noe
Extension Agent

MADISON COUNTY — Grocery shopping with young children is often a challenge. A store full of sights, sounds and attractions looks like a play-ground, and can also be overwhelming to a young child.

Parents, on the other hand, are often hurried and view the shopping as a job to be done, just the opposite of their child’s view!

A little planning and time spent preparing your child for shopping can make the trip more enjoyable and less stressful.

For example, try to start your shopping trip with a child who is well-rested and not hungry. A healthy snack before going to the store or possibly even during the shopping trip can ease irritability and the “I wants” that result from hunger pangs.

When you must “get the job done” with limited time and with your children, good communication is a must. Explain what to expect, maybe give them tasks to do in the store, acknowledge their good behavior and possibly build in a reward at the end.

When you take the time, a shopping trip can be a learning adventure for both a child and a parent. You may be surprised how much fun you can have. Read on for ideas for activities in the grocery store that are enjoyable and can teach your child life-long lessons.

1. Plan to go to the store with your child when you have plenty of time and the store is not crowded.

2. Discuss your rules before you enter a store. Remind your child to stay close to you. Set ground rules about what is acceptable to put in the cart. Discussing acceptable behavior before going into the store can save a lot of headache later on.

3. Give your child a job. For example, ask her to help pick out five oranges or three tomatoes. Or let her choose if you get apples or pears. Kids who help pick out fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them. Older children may like to hold onto the grocery list and cross off the items as you put them in the cart.

4. Set positive limits. When your child does something you do not want him to do, instead of reacting with a negative limit, such as “don’t throw the oranges on the floor,” tell your child what is expected in a positive way, such as “Keep the oranges in the bin.”

 5. Make the shopping trip a learning experience. Keep kids entertained by asking them questions and having them searching for items. Teach toddlers about touch by asking how different items feel, like the skin of an apple or if the milk is warm or cold. Teach preschoolers about colors by asking them to point out items of different colors like the green peas or the cereal in the yellow box. Have school-age children look at the labels and compare items based on nutrition.

I hope you and your child enjoy your next shopping trip.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.