10 Rules for Grocery Shopping With Your Kids

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*I originally wrote this post about 2 years back. It was before mask wearing was mandated by many US states and businesses. I think it’s so relevant this day and age. Parents still need to shop and kids sometimes still need to come with their parents. Kids are confused and can get scared. These rules are important for the child to feel safe and for mama to get her shopping done.


Grocery shopping!

Everyone eats and at some point, you need to buy more food.

Going alone to a grocery store is ideal. But sometimes we don’t have that option. We have to bring one, two, or more of our kids.

I use to have the worse anxiety about stepping out of the house with two kids right after my second was born. But I have learned tips and tricks on how to make grocery shopping trips a success.

We are not always tantrum or incident-free. But I have come up with strategies that work, and that will work for you too.

    1.   Become familiar with your grocery store

This one may not always be possible, I understand. But if it’s a grocery store that you frequent regularly then learn and remember the layout.

Create a list of grocery items in the order that you’ll be walking the store. This will keep you moving and you won’t be distracted by other products or aisles.

    2.   Have a plan

You already have a plan of what you’re buying, and where in the grocery store it is. Now create a plan of what you’ll do in case of an incident.

If your child(ren) want to buy something that you don’t approve, what will you say? Do? If they run away, don’t obey, etc., know the consequences and stick by them… No matter what!

    3. Create rules

Create a set of rules you expect your children to follow and then go over them with your children.

You may need to do this before you’re in the car, during the car drive, and before the store entrance. And maybe even in the store as a reminder. Yes, it seems excessive. But if your children are like mine they need a constant reminder.

Suggested rules:

  1. Be respectful – to mom, your siblings, and others in the store.
  2. Keep hands and feet to yourself – do not touch…anything..anyone…unless mom lets you
  3. Use inside voice – no yelling or screaming unless there is an emergency
  4. No running – and no running away

Now you can add more or make fewer rules. It’s up to you. You know your family and child best.

These rules need to be followed and if they are not there need to be consequences.

I will usually give my kids 3 warnings if they break these rules. At warning 3 they earn a time out. Timeout minutes are based on their age. My oldest is 9 years old so he gets 9 minutes.

If they earn this time out at the store I will usually pause my shopping and have my son stay in one spot for that timeout. Yes, it’s inconvenient and time-consuming. But you need to stick to your plan. And your child will know you’re serious and will be less likely to break the rules. I usually don’t even get to warning 3 and the kids stop what they were doing. Another option is for them to serve their time at home. I have also done this. You just need to remember and remind your child as well.

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    4.   Let your child know the consequences of breaking those rules…and stick with them!

Create consequences for unwanted behavior.

Is it a timeout? Do they not get a reward at the end of the trip. Lose a privilege?

You decide.

    5.   Bring a numbered list of items.

Let your child know what you’re buying and how many items that is. But remind them that might change. Remind them many times throughout the trip.

I noticed this is important to my son. He is all about numbers and staying consistent. He would ask me how many things we are buying would then proceed to count them. If we deviated from the plan he would become anxious. I learned that telling him it might change calms him down. I also update him throughout the grocery store trip when I realize I may add some items.

    6.   Distract your child(ren)

This can be done in a few different ways.

If you have a child that enjoys being in charge and helping you, then give them the shopping list and let them help you put the grocery items in your cart.

Sometimes my oldest wants to read my grocery shopping list and cross off the items as we get them.

Use an electronic device. For me, this comes in the form of my phone. Sometimes I will let my children share my phone to play games or watch videos to avoid them causing too much trouble at the store.

You can sing while shopping (good for little kids). Yes, people will look weird at you but you do what you need to do.

I’m sure you can come up with more creative ways.

    7.   Avoid the “scary spots” of the store

Those may be the toy aisle, the candy aisle, whatever will set your child off. Shop in those areas when you’re not with your children.

I’m all about avoiding meltdowns!

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    8.    Have a reward ready.

This may be a special candy, treat, or 25c toy. Anything you child can work for.

But also stick to not rewarding bad behavior.

This is a tricky one. It may cause bad behavior to get worse when they learn that they are not getting anything at the end of the grocery store trip.

Remind your child before, during and after about the reward and consequences of their behavior.

I also let them know that they can keep working for a reward on our drive home as well. This usually calms them down and they are able to change their behavior.

    9.   Praise good behavior.

I highly believe in this! Praise your child’s good behavior and good decision making. It builds confidence in them. It helps them understand that even though sometimes they mess up and there are consequences for those mistakes, you are still proud of them and believe that they can make good decisions.

grocery shopping with kids

    10.   Ignore everyone!

If your grocery store trip is not successful and kids are going wild and you’re about to lose your mind…

IGNORE THE STARES that you might be getting. Because who cares?

You’re in there on a mission. Your kids are losing it. You’re losing it. But you need food.

It’s no one’s business.

You got this mama.

You’re almost done.

It may mean you leave a few items behind.

You just do what you need to do, and get out of there.

You are stronger than you think!

You’re an amazing mama!

Don’t ever forget that!

These 10 rule, tips, and tricks are to help you in your grocery trip journey.

It won’t be a perfect trip, but these rules will help you be better prepared.

Let’s go shopping!The wise woman builds her house – Proverbs 14:1

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