Scream Savers, p.7
4. Smooth Shopping
Wonder why grocery stores and malls are Tantrum Central? "A store is very exciting and stimulating for a child," says Dr. Rubinowitz. "At the same time, parents tend to be saying no a fair amount, which can be frustrating, especially to a toddler." Parents may feel equally put-upon as they try to get necessary shopping done while struggling to keep a young child happy without buying junky food or toys.
Planning ahead can keep frustration at bay. In working with defiant kids, Dr. Levy has discovered the importance of practicing desirable behavior. "Preparing kids for a difficult situation is better than just talking to them about it," he says. During a trip to the supermarket, invite your child to select a sugary snack that he knows you'll veto. When he presents the forbidden item and you say, "No way," he can practice saying, "Okay, Mommy," and returning the item to the shelf. "Practice doing this again and again," Dr. Levy says. "You're taking a proactive approach to the problem, and the child is learning a new coping skill, a better way of handling frustration." On future shopping trips, when frustration mounts, Dr. Levy recommends reacting neutrally, saying, "Your behavior is telling me that you need more practice accepting it when I say no. Remember what we practiced, or we'll need to go to the car and practice again."
Once more, it helps to pour on the praise when your child is a little angel. "Say, 'I had such a wonderful time shopping with you today. Wasn't that fun?' " Dr. Rubinowitz suggests.