The pedagogists of ANPE (National Association of Italian Pedagogists) have published a set of useful guidelines for parents of children between 3 and 9 years of age.
1. Children should not be tired when they go shopping.
Shopping must be an enjoyable moment, but it will not be if the children are tired. They will ask to go home, whine, listen less...
2. Parents should not be tired when they go shopping.
If parents are tired, they will be more nervous, have less patience and be less willing to listen to their children.
3. Anticipate to your children where you will be going and what you will be doing
Telling your children beforehand where you will be going and what you will be doing will reassure them and the information will help them to behave positively. If children become tired or whiny this helps the parent to calm them down reminding them of what had been said. For example, if children cry because they want a toy, they will be reminded that, as promised, it will be bought; if, on the other hand, it was not planned to buy a toy the parent can remind them that they had gone out to buy “x”, so no toy will be bought.
4. Anticipate the rules before arriving at the shops.
Like for the schedule, rules can also help children to behave positively. Just a few simple rules, in as positive terms as possible, e.g.:
- Walk beside parents;
- Stay beside parents in the shops;
- If you want to see an item you ask parents for permission;
- You say hello and goodbye when you enter and exit shops.
- In every case, what is more important than words is the good example of the adult.
5. Be consistent with respect to points 3 and 4.
Consistency in parenting is very important in raising children. If I tell them that we will buy a toy during the shopping trip I will do my very best to do so and I will not deny it because it is late or because it isn’t possible. If, on the other hand, I said that we would not buy any toy, I will not buy one because my child cries or throws a tantrum. I will remind them of what was decided. The same works for the rules: if I say it is important to stay beside the parent I have to consider them, If I tell them to ask permission I have to listen to them, and if it is good manners to say hello and goodbye I have to show them how to do it.
6. Think about having a snack first and then shopping.
Tiredness like hunger can make children more nervous and whiny. It is better to have a good snack first and then go shopping, or break up the shopping with time dedicated to a snack. This is certainly much better than having a snack as you are moving from one shop to another.
7. Take a break in a playground so the children can run around and have fun.
When the shopping trip is a little longer, a break in a playground or a place where children can run around and have fun can be a valid aid for both children and the parents, above all if it is agreed beforehand like at points 3 and 4. After going around a few shops children could start to get bored and become more restless, so knowing that there is time and space dedicated to them can make the wait easier to bear.
8. Take a “boredom buster”
Before leaving the house ask children to choose a teddy bear or a toy to take to the shops, so that if they get bored they will have something to keep them entertained.
9. Involve children in shopping
Shopping can be a very educational activity. It can be an opportunity to “forge” the adult-child relationship; parents can involve their children in the activity of buying by asking for their opinion and suggestions, naturally in relation to the children’s age; if children feel as if they are taken into consideration by their mother and father they will tend to behave better on subsequent shopping trips.
It can be positive to discuss the value of money with children and, depending on their age, it can be a very educational experience to involve them in the activity of paying and receiving change.
10. Strengthen the positive behaviour of children.
It is important for children to spend time with their parents. Reminding them that shopping can also be an enjoyable moment to spend together, that the parent is happy and proud of their children’s behaviour, can strengthen children and help them to do the same in the future. Positive reinforcements are also an excellent tool to increase children’s self-esteem.
The generic terms child/children have been used and refer to both male and female. www.anpe.it