Shopping with children

Question: What are things I can do to help improve the chances that a trip to the grocery store will go well when I have to take my kids?

Answer: One of the most difficult times for parents is when their children misbehave in public; those times when children won’t do as they are told, or really lose their cool. A common time when parents often have to deal with difficulties like this is when they are out shopping. You’ll be happy to hear you can make shopping fun and you can teach your children to behave well on a shopping trip.

If you are already experiencing some problems shopping with your children, you may want to ask yourself if you have fallen into a “parent trap,” such as timing the shopping trip badly – trying to go when your children are hungry or tired or if you are in a rush. Are you accidentally rewarding misbehavior of your children by giving in to their demands at the store so they don’t have a temper tantrum? Are you shopping for too long and your children are bored with nothing to do? Might your children be overwhelmed by all of the people, sounds and attractive items (toys, candy) all around them?

Triple P’s Discussion Group on “Hassle-Free Shopping with Children” is a great resource here in Elkhart County that focuses on how to enjoy shopping and other outings with your young children (ages 2 to 12). Parents in the group are encouraged to share their own shopping hassles with their children and information is discussed on why children misbehave on trips, how to prevent problems, how to manage trips and developing your own family shopping plan.

Aside from identifying common “parent traps,” you will also hear about creative ways to engage your children during shopping trips, how to set clear limits with them, and how to use quiet time or a behavior chart if challenging behaviors continue.

The next “Hassle-Free Shopping with Children” group will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at the Middlebury Community Public Library. Triple P practitioner Donna Pangburn will lead this free two-hour group. Pangburn is also the founder of The Pathways to Parenting, a local parenting support business. You may register for this group by calling Triple P at 574-226-0160 or online at

With preparation and experience, parents and children can look forward to shopping together as it becomes a time when children can learn important lessons about foods, how to pay attention to money and costs, and how to be part of an important family activity.

Triple P Q&A is a regular parenting support column from the practitioners of Triple P – Positive Parenting Program – in Elkhart County. Triple P is an evidence-based, internationally known parenting curriculum with support for every parent. This week, Sandy Imanse, LCSW, a Bristol-based Triple P practitioner, answered the question. For more on Triple P in Elkhart County, visit or call the hotline, 574-226-0160.

(1) comment


If dealing with an infant, timing of a shopping trip can certainly mean everything, But after a certain age it is obvious that the parent simply has no parenting skills. Rather than advice, the question should be, where have you been getting your parenting ideas or why haven't you paid attention to developing parenting skills ? OK so advice is better than nothing, but as a society it would be nice if we got much more aggressive and went directly at the negligent adults here, .What could be said is, if the people in the store around you are not having big problems with their kids, maybe “you” could take a hint.

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