Shopping…some like it, others hate it. Holiday shopping has it’s own sparkle and tarnish. The cheerful carols, mistletoe, and tinsel are combined with grouchy shoppers, slushy snow, and fatigue.
One of the big challenges during the holidays is shopping with children. With the barrage of ads and bulging shelves at stores touting the newest, latest, and greatest toys kids get carried away with what they’d like to see under the tree. Try these tips for sanity while shopping and peace in procuring those last minute gifts.
- Set the expectations for polite behavior such as inside voice, sitting in the cart, and no whining before leaving home. Determine a reward for meeting the set expectations- a special story time, a favorite lunch, playing a game. Make sure you follow through with the reward.
- Consider the time of day. Shop when your children are well rested and well fed. Tired + hungry = crabby kids. Try to choose less busy times to be in the stores.
- Make the shopping list with your children. Include all the items needed for the people on your gift list. Tell the kids upfront the shopping trip is not to purchase gifts for them but for others. When they ask for an item at the store, refer to the list and say, “No, that is not on our list today.”1
- Keep a special notebook in your bag or pocket. When your children see something they like, write it down in this separate notebook. Mention to the kids how much their gift ideas will help Grandma or Uncle Pete.2
- Turn off your cell phone. Tune in your children throughout the shopping trip. Kids will get your attentions in polite or impolite ways so focusing your attention on the children and the task at hand will make for a better shopping experience for you and your children.
- Praise your kiddos during the shopping trip if they are good shoppers.
- Allow kids to help choose gifts for others. This gives them an important job to do and they will feel special when the gifts are opened.
- At home, involve the children in wrapping the presents and making gift tags. The packages may not be neat as you’d like, but allow imperfections. Download tags here: christmas-gift-tags-2016
- If your children have met your expectations, thank them and give them the agreed upon reward to celebrate. Next time you can remind them what wonderful shoppers they were and how you’re sure they can do it again on the next shopping trip.
- If you’ve run out of strategies and the kids are still misbehaving, be prepared to leave the store. It usually takes only one time for Mom or Dad to say, “We are going home right now. I expected polite behavior not ___________ (whining/complaining/crying).” Then leave. When you get home, process what went wrong and how the child can make it better next time.
Enjoy this beautiful time of year, even while shopping. Have fun choosing special gifts for loved ones to celebrate the greatest Gift of love, Jesus. May you and yours have a merry and bright Christmas!
While you’re at it, order a gift for yourself this Christmas! Raising Little Kids with Big Love contains many parenting ideas like the ones listed above.
1. Wildenberg and Danielson, Raising Little Kids with Big Love (Friendswood, Bold Vision Books, 2014) p. 46-47.
2. Wildenberg and Danielson, Raising Little Kids with Big Love (Friendswood, Bold Vision Books, 2014) p. 47.
By Becky Danielson
Wife to Scott
Mom of two college boys
Licensed Parent & Family Educator
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting
Co-author of three parenting books
Join Becky Danielson, along with Lori Wildenberg, Misty Honnold, and Matt Haviland at the 2017 Kansas City HeartCORe Single Parent Conference January 21. Click HERE for more information and to register.
The HeartCORe Single Parent Conference will inspire and encourage you to be the best mom or dad you can be during these challenging times. Be blessed by the messages given by single parent experts, Misty Honnold (Single Mom KC) and Matt Haviland (A Father’s Walk Single Dad Ministry). Culturally relevant material presented by Lori Wildenberg and Becky Danielson, co-founders 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, will arm you with the current cutting edge information for families.