tumblr site counter
childcare centres

Supermarket Survival

SKIP - Ministry of Social Development

The supermarket is an exciting place for small children, but sometimes it can all get too frustrating and they go into overload. There are ways to make shopping a less stressful time for children and parents.


Try not to go when you’re in a hurry and your child is hungry or tired. It might be tempting to fit the shopping in after a morning out and about, but the chances are your child will be tired and ready for a quiet time at home.

Involve your children in writing the list beforehand. Give them some options, for example what sort of cereal they want. Give two or three choices that you are prepared to buy and then make sure you both look for those choices when you get there.

I try not to go when the children are hungry and tired.

When you’re there

  • Take along a small toy that they can play with.
  • Give your child something to snack on as you go round. You could take this with you or keep the price tag or bar code to pay as you leave.
  • Give them some choices – "these baked beans or these ones?"
  • Try to keep your trolley away from things you don’t want to buy, but your child will ask for – for example the sweets aisle.
  • Give them a job, for example holding the list or coupon book. Ask them to look for things on the list.
  • Keep them in the trolley. That way you can talk to them and involve them, and they won’t disappear. If you’ve got more than one child, the others can hold onto the trolley as you go round.
  • Managing with a small baby and a toddler can get really tricky. Try going in the weekend or evening if you have a partner to take care of the children, or take along a friend to help.

The checkout

  • Play games such as I Spy as you wait. With young children use colours – "I spy something red".
  • Give them some groceries to put on the checkout counter.
  • Thank them for being helpful.

The checkout operators usually talk to him when he helps. He really enjoys that.

If things start going wrong

  • Don’t give in to demands. Try distracting them by asking them to find something they like on the list, give them a bit of food or a drink.
  • Stop the trolley. Explain quietly that you need their help and when you get home you can both do something they like – like watch a tv programme.
  • Keep calm – try not to show your anger. Count to ten. If you’re next to something your child wants, move the trolley to a quiet corner.
  • Don’t worry about the other shoppers, most of them will have had children and will know what you are going through.

When you’ve finished

  • Tell them they were really good at choosing/sitting still/playing I spy. If they were difficult, try to remember something positive you can tell them.
  • If things went wrong think about what triggered the trouble – you might be able to avoid it next time.

Think about

It’s a good idea to set up an arrangement with a friend where you mind each others children so you each can shop on your own.

Remember: Try not to go when you’re in a hurry and your child is hungry or tired.

 You can download these brochures or order a free copy from the SKIP site!!