|Photo credit: Ambro|
We've all seen the couples who walk along side by side, glancing at their list and sharing the events of their day. To them, shopping is a mutual experience and they don't seem to mind it a bit.
Then there are those couples on the other end of the spectrum. One is dawdling along in a daze while the other pushes the cart ahead, dashing in and out of aisles. Little communication goes on, and if it does, it's negative.
"Just grab some soup, will ya! We don't have all night to read the details on every label .... "
Then there are those parents who shop with their children. Consider the ones who discuss what they are doing with their little ones. They make eye contact and allow them to "help" out as much as possible. You will often see physical contact as they pat a little arm or smooth their child's hair with a gentle hand. There's no doubt those children feel valued. And their conversation is pleasant, too.
|Photo by David C. Dominici|
"Let's see, now ... we need laundry detergent to keep our clothes clean. Remember how good it smells when we pour it in the washing machine?"
I love watching these interactions and am happy for the little people involved. They are learning that shopping can be an interesting and pleasant experience. They also feel part of that experience when they hold small (unbreakable) items, count cans in the cart, carry the parent's list, etc. All of this information and interacting is stored away for future reference.
Then, there are the other parents ... the ones who appear in public with a chip on their shoulders before the shopping ever begins. These parents don't walk the aisles, they stalk them with rigid spines and tense grips on grocery carts. They thwart any healthy curiosity the children may have about shopping and expect their offspring to endure the entire experience without speaking (or at least interrupting the parent's tirade).
"I don't know why I ever bring you with me! You're always yapping or begging or crying at the top of your lungs. At this rate, it's gonna take us all night to get a few groceries. So just SIT STILL AND STOP MAKING A RACKET!"
|Photo by David C. Dominici|
Okay ... I'll confess to being guilty of raising my brows and trying to catch the eye of those little people. I usually give a wink or smile, just to let them know someone cares and not every adult is grumpy. Maybe it's also an attempt to let them know not the tension that accompanies shopping isn't entirely their fault.
When there is trouble in the store, the major fault lies at the feet of the parents. After all, what happens at home usually happens in public, right? The impatient parent who nags and talks loud enough to be heard two aisles over also does that at home. The one who is patient and attentive while grocery shopping is probably that way at home, too.
This is why it's important to patiently instruct children in daily disciplines - not just bark out a list of rules before entering a public venue. With some forethought and consistency at home, it's possible to be seen in public without making a big scene. Try the following tips at home, first. Be consistent, and then practice them during shopping experiences ...
1. Make eye contact with your children when they speak or ask a question. This is how they learn! It's far too easy to listen and respond as we go about our business rather than turning to face our children. Making eye contact is important, because it shows our children we care about what they have to say. It also gives them one-on-one attention for that brief moment.
2. Never yell at your children unless the place is on fire (or you are yelling for them to come home from down the street). Yelling at our children is demeaning and unnecessary when daily disciplines are in place. If a child feels secure and loved, a respectful trust toward the parent will follow. Yelling at them does not produce cooperation or obedience.
3. Allow children to help in the home from early on. Toddlers love to "help" and should be encouraged to do so. Yes, it's much faster to do it yourself, but in the long run, you will have more help if you allow them to assist now. There will be messes and spills, but a quick swipe of a rag and a calm voice is far better than fussing. Don't allow yourself to fuss and nag!
4. As young children grow, increase their chores as you work alongside them. Make a salad together. Let your children stir the cake batter, rinse dishes, make beds and dust the furniture -- with your help. As they mature, let them do more of the work on their own.
So next time you head to the store, ask yourself...
What's in YOUR shopping cart -- miserable child or willing assistant?