How to Handle a Child in the Supermarket?

One of the usual places for the children to have meltdowns is superstores. While some children are overwhelmed by the activity, sound, and light, others are simply bored. And several kids see the treats they want to eat; there are all kinds of children. 

Most parents don’t take their kids to the supermarkets to save themselves from the embarrassment of dealing with the tantrum and headaches. However, there are tips and steps that you can take to prevent such situations and make the supermarket tour fun for your child and yourself.

Like all the other matters, grocery shopping becomes less troublesome when you have a proper plan. The key to making the most of your supermarket trip is to understand the behavior of your child. Do not expect him/her to know how to behave in these settings on his/her own. Instead, start teaching your kid the ropes of shopping. 

Start with quick trips to the store and adopt an encouraging, enthusiastic, and warm tone. Set proper rules and never forget to reinforce them. 

Survival Strategies for Handling Your Child at the Supermarket

1. Make Some Rules

Before you go into any public setting or a store, it is crucial to make some rules. Teach your children what types of behaviors are acceptable in different public places. Tell them that it is tolerable to yell and run at the playground, but not in the grocery stores.

Talk to your children about the significance of walking feet and using an inside voice in the store. Tell them that they cannot take items off the shelves without your permission, and they need to walk all the time, staying next to you. Explain to your children the negative consequences of not following the rules and the positive outcomes if they follow the rules.

2. Prevent Behavior Problems Even Before they Begin

Prevent behavior problems by ensuring that your kid is ready for the store shopping. Don’t go to the store when your child is tired or hungry, and make sure he/she had some physical activity or exercise in the day.

It is advisable to give your child a job once you are in the store. It will keep him/her busy, and your child will be less likely to involve in any trouble-causing behavior. One of the things you can do is pass the shopping items to him/her and ask him/her to place them into the cart safely.

3. Follow Through with Consequences

Follow through with a negative consequence when your child breaks the rules. You can use the timeout technique when he is not listening or running ahead. To apply timeout, find a quiet place and allow your child to serve a timeout on an available quiet bench in the supermarket or store. And when necessary, you can go to the car to take a break from shopping.

If your child throws a temper tantrum or begs you to buy him things, ignore his/her behavior. Most of the children know that if they scream, their parents will get embarrassed in public. So, they use these misbehaviors as a weapon. Teach your child that this is not the right way to get the things they want.

4. Time Your Visit 

Taking your kid to the superstore when they are hungry or napping is a sure recipe for disaster. Long check-out lines and crowded stores can also spell trouble. Always go store shopping when your child is fully fed and rested. Try to go after dinner, in the morning, or early afternoon when the stores tend to be less crowded and quieter.

5. Get Organized 

Young children have limited tolerance; write your shopping list ahead of time so that you can get in and out as quickly as possible. Save yourself from coming up to the same shelf, again and again, by grouping similar items on the list.

6. Come Prepared 

Your simple trip to the supermarket or store can quickly change into a disaster if you go unprepared. Stock a small bag or backpack with a change of clothes, wipes, and an extra diaper. Throw in a few snacks, toys, and books. Carry your young babies in a wrap to keep them more content, secure, and warm.

7. Offer Rewards for Good Behaviors

When your child follows the rules, give him/her positive feedback. For helping you shop, using walking feet, and every minute they stay next to you in the store, reward them with an appraisal. And if they do well, you can even offer them tangible rewards. For example, if there is a particular snack they like, you can give it as a reward.

You can use a token economy system. It is very effective in keeping your child on track throughout the shopping. You can offer them one token per minute or aisle. And then, they can exchange these tokens for an item at the store. You can also combine them with the one you are already using in the house.

8. Make it Fun 

The behavioral issue at the stores occurs when your child is overstimulated by noise, people, and lights or when he gets bored. To avoid it, play a shopping game or give your child an active role in shopping. Let the child choose one or two grocery items and make them feel engaged.

9. Bring Healthy Snacks to Keep Your Children Occupied 

At some point, all parents face a kid in the chocolate aisle. Giving in to tantrums and demands only rewards and reinforces bad behavior. You can avoid this situation by bringing the favorite and healthier snacks for your child. Satsumas and grapes work well. Salt popcorn, oat bars, and low sugar can seem just as tempting to a child as sweet treats.

10. Get Them Involved 

Use real-life, positive examples of why you are at the supermarket. For example, tell your child that we will make your favorite white sauce paste, so can you help me find all of the things we need? Involve your children in planning the meals to create excitement for dinner. You can make shopping more fun by playing supermarket bingo with your child.

You can also print out or create a simple sheet of everyday food items and ask your kid to spot them as you get your store shopping done.

11. Make a Shopping List for Your Child 

Children love to feel helpful and grown-up. You can give your child cut-out colorful pictures of food or other shopping items and let them create a shopping list. At the store, encourage your children to help you look for the items from the list. It is an excellent opportunity to talk about cooking, healthy eating, and food groups.

Let your kid help you add items to the cart and unload them when you get to the till. By doing this, you can make them feel involved, and they will feel they are giving Daddy or Mummy a helping hand. And when they do a good job, do not forget to reward and praise.


It is not necessary that what worked for your one child will work on another as well – every kid is different. Keep in mind that distraction, reinforcing good behavior, and positivity are power tools to navigate the temper tantrums of your children.