We’ve all been there: brought the child to the supermarket in the vain hope that they will be merciless and everything will be a quick and easy ride to the checkout without an incident. Unfortunately, this is never how it seems to work out, with endless requests for unhealthy foods, sugary drinks and the occasional meltdown.
When young children enter a large supermarket (or any store for that matter) they are literally entering into a world of infinite possibilities and simply won't understand why we can't buy a 52 inch plasma screen TV along with tonight’s dinner. If they are younger and want a snack mid-shop and there is a potential earth trembling tantrum if you refuse, then most of the time the simplest thing is to just give in to their demands. So how do you shop with the kids without it ending in tears ( most likely yours)?
One of the simplest tricks to avoid the child-supermarket-meltdown is to not bring them. Simple, right? Well, maybe not an option every time. But if you are stuck with a couple of kids then learn the lesson in damage limitation by bringing the kids only when they are: full of food, well rested, and not sick.
If a child spends more than one hour in the shops you are entering a territory of high meltdown so plan your timing when the supermarkets are quiet such as mid-week nights/evenings that will avoid long delays into the carpark and checkout queues.
One of the standard ways to control the supermarket frenzy is to talk to the kids before they enter. Tell them what behaviour you expect and what will not be allowed. Make sure they understand that running around screaming at the top of their lungs is not an option.
Learning about the ripeness of fruit, what vegetables look good, what kind of meals contain what ingredients, all told in an interesting way, will help your kids understand what it takes to create meals. Asking them to describe their favorite meals and getting them to pick out the ingredients will keep them interested and help them learn about food and nutrition.
If games, threats and lists don’t work or they are too young to search the aisles themselves, offering them some entertainment while they are sitting in the buggy or the trolley seat, that buys you some more time is important. Healthy treats as rewards for ‘quiet time’ and praising good behaviour will make the shopping journey that little bit easier.
For more ideas on how to incorporate super foods into your child's diet, see our dedicated section on Food and Nutrition.