Avoid temptation to spend when shopping with kids

Q: As a busy mother with young children, I don’t have much choice but to take them with me when I go shopping. But sometimes they drive me crazy in the stores! Help!

Jim: I love seeing families shop together; they’re experiencing the value of spending time with each other in daily life. So I generally don’t mind when I’m stuck behind a cart steered by a 5-year-old — as long as Mom or Dad is navigating! But some outings can turn frustrating if we don’t stay on our toes. Author Karen Ehman has some tips for shopping with children.

Feed them first and avoid hot spots: Temptations are everywhere. If kids are hungry, you could be inviting trouble. (And let’s face it, we all have our “hangry” moments.) And if they haven’t learned that needs are different than wants, stay away from some aisles altogether.

Build incentive: Help children cut a coupon for a special treat beforehand. If they get through the trip without complaining or acting out, they get to have that treat.

Guide financial awareness: If your older child wants something, talk about cost. If they don’t have enough money of their own, brainstorm ways they can earn it.

Buddy up: Some ages and stages are rougher than others. Arrange with another struggling parent to watch each other’s kids while you go to the store alone.

Most of all, hang in there! Not all shopping trips will be stress-free. But intentional efforts to develop your children’s behavior — even in the most everyday moments — can have a lasting impact.

For more ideas to help your family thrive, visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.

Jim Daly is an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program.

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