parenting perspectives

5 Tips to Mitigate Unacceptable Behavior
While Running Errands

By Genevieve Hollins

Are you that parent who asks yourself if you really, really need to make a trip to the store for milk for tomorrow morning’s breakfast or laundry detergent to wash that ever-growing pile of dirty laundry? If you are not feeling up to the task of running errands with your little one in tow because of their unacceptable behavior, then you are not alone.

Here are 5 tips to incorporate into your errand runs to help mitigate unwanted behavior:

1. Make a few short trips to set the tone. If you are ready to tackle your child’s inappropriate behavior while in public, for instance, grocery shopping, then make a few short trips to the store to set the tone for future trips. This is your chance to show your children that you mean what you say.

2. Tell your children your expectations for the trip. I usually tell my children, “We are going to the store to purchase XYZ. I expect you to be on your best behavior. You will not be asking for toys and will stay by my side while shopping.” Try to keep the expectations short so it doesn’t seem impossible to please mom (or dad). Once we arrive at the store, but before we exit the vehicle, I reiterate the same thing one more time so it’s forefront in their mind.

3. Talk to your children and ask them to help. Once in the store I try to make it interesting for my kids so their little minds are occupied and so they think of running errands as a privilege. I’ll talk about the items we need to find, read the different prices or daily deals, and I’ll ask for them to help put things in the cart and sometimes let them choose certain items of food. They really like weighing the fruits and veggies and getting the heavy milk into the cart! The more involved and occupied the less time to be disobedient.

4. Give one warning and leave the store immediately if your child disobeys. If your children just can’t resist the urge to act out, bend down so you are eye-to-eye with them and in your most calm mommy voice tell them something like, “Charlie, this is your one and only warning. You will not be climbing on the shelves. You will stay by my side while shopping. If you choose to disobey, then our fun will end and we will have to go home.” If Charlie acts out again, calmly leave the store. Explain to Charlie why you are leaving in your most calm but disappointed voice.

5. Try again another day! Don’t let a few failed attempts dissuade you. Children eventually learn what is expected and you will soon be asking them to accompany you because they are such great helpers! Besides, extra hands to load the groceries are always welcome.

And, yes, give them a lollipop or something they love every once in a while!

Genevieve is pictured here with her children Landan, 6, Gianna, 4, and Jordan, 6 months.