Q: It is impossible to take my 3-year-old into a store without listening to her beg for everything she sees. Very often the begging turns into crying or screaming tantrums. What can I do to make the shopping experience easier for us both? I always dread having to take her into a store with me. – Shelly, Tempe

A: Toddlers and Tantrums… the two “t’s” that sometimes go hand in hand. Toddlers have tantrums for many reasons: they can be tired, hungry, cutting their molars, frustrated from not being able to use their words, or just having a grumpy day. If tantrums do arise, here are 10 tips to make your life easier:

1. If possible, try and choose a shopping time when your toddler is not hungry or tired.

2. If you must do that errand after he’s had a full day at preschool, you’ve had a full day of work and both of you are tired, take a healthy snack and some water before the shopping. String cheese, pretzels and dry cereal are just a few suggestions. Hungry and tired is the perfect recipe for a tantrum.

3. If grocery shopping is on the agenda, let your toddler wheel his own little cart with a few groceries. Toddlers love to help.

4. Giving your toddler some coupons to hold and asking him to find the food on the picture when you get to the appropriate aisle is a fun activity to keep the peace.

5. If you’ll be going to another type of store, let your toddler hold something of yours and tell him he is mommy’s big helper. This is great for teaching responsibility.

6. If your toddler won’t stop begging for everything he sees, try your best not to stay calm. Once he sees your patience is gone, he’s got you. Say no and walk away from the aisle that has the item he “must” have!

7. Visit the dollar store without your toddler and pick up a few age appropriate toys that are small enough to fit in your purse. These only come out on shopping days.

8. If you sense a tantrum coming on (and parents have great intuition), create a diversion. “Let’s go find something that daddy wants and name the item,” you can say. Or, play the color game, asking him to find something red, then blue, etc.

9. If your toddler does throw himself down on the floor in a meltdown, don’t try and reason with him. This is not the time for a discussion. Turn around and ignore him. It’s just not fun when no one is watching.

10. And my favorite tantrum solution: whisper in his ear. You’ll be amazed at how quickly he calms down.



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