Checkout Tantrums

by Marcie
Two kids riding in the shopping cart at the store.

How to avoid the checkout gimmes?

  1. Validate your child. “You like Starburst? They’re chewy and fruity aren’t they? I like Baby Ruth, that’s my favorite. Maybe when it’s Halloween we’ll both get our favorites!” or “You want a Starburst? That’s yummy!”
  2. Explain why we’re not buying. “ We’re not going to buy that today because we already have cookies at home. Maybe after lunch we can have one.” Tell the truth about any reasoning you have, kids understand more than we think.

For 10 years I brought all the kids with me to the store (up until our 7th was born) and they just knew not to ask for treats in the checkout aisle. I’m not sure how, but they knew. Maybe I explained that we just got candy on holidays and if I ever bought candy I would buy a big bag that had enough for everyone. They also knew we had candy during movie parties, never at the grocery store, so why would they ask? 

It also helped to keep them occupied at the store.  We had a list and I involved all the children in helping me find things or entertaining the baby or holding a toddler’s hand. Some stores had little carts they could push which they loved even though they fought over the food whenever I put it into someone’s cart. I had to have a plan for that too. Either rotate through the kids or allow the child who had put that item on the list (when planning their dinner night) to get the item. Or have one cart be fridge food, one freezer food, one produce, one boxed/canned items, etc.

The past 10 years I’ve just brought the youngest 1-2 kids (baby and toddler) and one middle child and left the rest at home. For the toddler in the cart I always bring string cheese, a fruit leather, or apple slices in my purse/diaper bag if they do start asking for food. I say, “Are you hungry?” or “Does that food look good? We’re not going to buy that but if you’re hungry I have a string cheese. Do you want one?” Then I shop as fast as I can. 🙂 For the older one walking alongside me I feel he/she doesn’t come with me very often and since we’ve had food stamps the past few years I let him/her pick out one special thing they want. Anytime they point to something I ask, “That looks yummy. Is that the one thing you want?” Usually it’s not, they just want to show it to me. Sometimes they pick out one yogurt just for them or a box of cereal or character fruit snacks for the whole family. The whole trip I am trying to connect with this child and interact with her. I ask her to run and get things, ask her opinion of what kind of pasta would the family like, and have her cross things off on the list as we go. It makes her feel so important and needed. She is also excited to pick out her own treat and learns to make choices. Some turn out dumb and they regret buying it and others they are proud of which equals great shopping experience. Most importantly, they feel loved and important throughout the trip.

Check out this post I made in 2010 “Shopping With Six”

(Just don’t judge the food I bought back then, haha. I hadn’t known about real food and wasn’t a healthy shopper.)

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