Navigating the Grocery Store Minefield


The grocery store is a place where things can go wrong in a hurry with a kiddo. If you possible can, do the shopping without your young child (don’t you know it!), but when you can’t avoid bringing them along, here are some tips. A little prep goes a long way!!

1) Try to go at a time when your child (and you!) are not likely to be cranky anyway. For me, this was usually morning or after naps.

2) Feed everyone (including you!) BEFORE you go. You know this: the grocery store is hard for you when you’re hungry. Now picture how hard it is for someone with even less impulse control!!

3) If your child is 2 or older, give them a play-by-play before you even get in the car. Something like: “We are going to the store. We will buy things on our list (note: have a list). You can help me find things on the list. We are only buying things on the list.” Then tell this story again in the car and again in the store (and again in the checkout!)

4) While you’re shopping, give your child something to do - hold an item, “help” you reach something, look for the “best” one of whatever you’re buying. You child can be happy and easily occupied if you give them a way to help out.

5) Avoid saying things like, “if you’re good, you can have a treat”. There are a couple of problems with this one. First, “being good” is in the eye of the beholder; it’s super vague and you and your child are likely have COMPLETELY different definitions of “good”. For how long do I need to be good? Does being good mean I whine but I don’t cry? Etc. Second, unless you want to offer a treat every time you go, stay away from this option.

6) Instead of offering a treat, praise your child for helping you at the store and plan to do something fun with them afterwards. This can be an outing or just some special quiet time at home with you. Remind them periodically about the plan.


Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are, everything falls apart. Your child has a tantrum, you lose your patience and the walls cave in. If all else fails and you find yourself in this situation, you have a couple of options:

muck through and deal with the tantrum or (and I have done this in multiple occasions), abort the mission completely.

No joke: I once left a full cart of groceries at the checkout because my then-toddler son was acting like a complete maniac.


What are your strategies for getting through a grocery trip unscathed? Got any good stories? Have you ever left a cart of groceries and fled the scene?? Share in the comments!!


If you’d like more strategies on getting through difficult situations with your young child, check out our Free Parenting Workshop.

Keep having fun!


Gabriele NicoletComment