The Most Common Parenting Question of All

The question we're probably asked the most often in our parenting seminars and radio interviews is, "What do I do when my kids act out in the grocery store?" We all have stories from our own families and we've observed other children throw tantrums, run away, whine, complain, or disobey in the store. We may write a booklet someday called, "How to Parent in Public." Then we could all carry around these booklets and hand them out to frustrated parents in public places.

At least part of the answer is that you don't practice your discipline strategies in the grocery store. That's the final exam! You practice in the kitchen, bedroom, laundry room, and backyard. Children need to learn how to handle disappointment at home so they can accept a no answer in the check out line. Our kids need to learn to come when they're called so that they'll respond in public. Children who haven't learned how to accept correction at home without a bad attitude will miserably fail the test when they have an audience.

Look for ways to reproduce the grocery store situations at home, at the park, and in other places so that children can learn positive routines to use in public. Talk about how to act at the bank, the library, and the store. Teach your children the "No Touch Rule" and the "Don't be Wild Rule" and practice them often.

It won't be long before you'll be able to take your young children into the Hallmark store with all those dangerously beautiful things waiting to be broken. If you've practiced then your kids will do fine and people will say, "Oh what nicely behaved children you have." Of course those people don't realize how much work you've done to help your children develop the character to handle these temptations.

Then the grocery store will be easier. That doesn't mean you won't ever have a problem. In those times you have to do as best as you can, get what you need and get out of there, but the difficult times will be far fewer than the successful ones when you take time to practice at home.

What are some ways you've been able to teach your children self discipline at home?
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Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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5 comments:

  1. I have four children under the age of seven and I used to send my husband to do all the shopping because it seemed like such a nightmare to take them all to the store by myself. Then we started to on Saturdays as a whole family so that Daddy could go with us to help in the training. Most of the the training actually happened at home as was suggested in the article, but it was nice to have the weight of Daddy's authority with me when that training was put into practice at first. One of the things that we have taught at home is that acting right when we are in public is a love issue. It is one simple way that we can fulfill the commandment to love our neighbors. I have been amazed by how well they have responded to this one simple truth! It also helps to prepare the kids in advance with a little reminder pep talk about the rules when your sitting in the car in the parking lot befor you go into the store. We now get regular compliments on errand day, even at our third store for the day (that's about their limit).

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  2. Hi Leslie, I really like this idea. Dad going along to help with the training so that the focus of the shopping isn't just grab and go but the process is valuable as well. I also like the pep talk idea and the thought that this is a way to love others. I hope you'll share more of your ideas with us as we move forward. I'd love to share them with others.

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  3. Here is what our family does: when the kids go grocery shopping with us, we prep them with: "You can pick out one special thing--just no toys or candy." So, this gives them some freedom to have a choice in one thing. It is typically a snack item or something else unhealthy we wouldn't normally purchase (i.e., lunchables, pop tarts, ice cream, sports drinks). This keep them satisfied and preoccupied during the trip and selection process. And, it allows for conversations about healthy food (although they often don't change their mind!)

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  4. I went to college for early childhood education and have taught in daycares, have been a nanny, a preschool teacher, and more. I am now a stay at home, homeschooling Mother. My daughter has never thrown a fit in public, (nor has any other child that I have babysat or nannied). It is not only worthwhile to teach how to handle a tantrum, but to prevent it in the first place. Children throw fits for different reasons: tired, over-stimulated, hungry, and bored are the top reasons. Parents drag their kids to the store overlooking their child's needs. Don't take a child during their nap time or when they need some down time to themselves, feed a child before going out, and pack a "toy/snack" bag to keep in the car and to carry with you at ALL times so the child is never without. It is much easier to prevent the meltdown in the first place.

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  5. newmanclan3 has a great point. I also am never without a quiet activity that the kids can do (if I leave home without it, I know to be hypervigilant to the kids attitudes and know that I have a "ticking timebomb" with me.

    I like to practice good behavior at home so the kids know what is expected of them in public. We eat out at nice restaurants and I expect the kids to behave properly. So we play "fancy restaurant" at home every few weeks. I light the candles on the dining room table and set out full place settings with the good dishes. The kids come to the table knowing that restaurants behavior is expected. They sit at the table talking in quiet voices until I serve the food (usually pretending to serve them and using a funny accent), they eat politely and use good manners, and don't ask to be excused from the table until everyone has finished eating. I sometimes serve several courses to practice polite parience. When I first started, one of my kids (the stubborn one) didn't want to learn good restaurant behavior, but changed his mind after he had to stay home with a babysitter while everyone else went out to dinner. He was very upset, but I calmly explained that I would love for him to come with us, but restaurant behavior was expected and he hadn't been able to do that. He was the best at the table the next "fancy dinner". :)

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