You’ve made your plan for the entire week, you’ve created a grocery list, and you’re armed and well equipped for the grocery store. With kids in tow, you may be zipping through the grocery store in lightning-fast speed, when suddenly “it” happens. Your children see candy, gum, sweets, or a meal crammed with MSG, preservatives, and processed sugars. Crying, yelling, begging, and whining promptly ensue until you finally cave and buy the candy bar. So much for sticking to the grocery list.
The truth is: supermarkets aren’t just haphazardly organized. Instead, they are deliberately constructed and designed with marketing and sales in mind. The bakery dwells on the periphery of the store, wafting smells of cookies, cakes, and bread into the nearby aisles. Sugar cereals, candy, and toys are placed on the bottom shelves, right at your child’s eye-level, to entice passing children. Even if you get out of the aisle temper tantrum-free, candy, soda, and other sweets taunt your kids in the checkout line. It’s no surprise that your children are tempted to grab the Gummi Bears!
Grocery Store Outbursts: Causes, Prevention, and Intervention
The only way to avoid temper tantrums is to educate yourself and take the necessary action to avoid them. Usually temper tantrums begin to occur at about 1 1/2 years. These bouts of anger can last until about age 4. They don’t call it the “terrible twos” for nothing. So why do temper tantrums occur specifically at these ages? Kids from 1 1/2-2 want to test their limits and see how far they can go before an authoritative figure says, “Enough!”
There are some tactics you can take when trying to prevent an emotionally tumultuous child from lashing out. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has a plethora of articles on their website that can help you learn about your child’s behavior. Robert G. Harrington, PhD, offers plenty of advice to prevent tantrums. For example, use commands instead of questions. “Do you want to get dressed?” turns into the command, “Get dressed,” and limits potential arguments or resistance. Establish routines and traditions to add structure to your child’s life and also warn children when an activity will end by setting a timer or giving 5 minutes of advance notice.
If you need to intervene during a grocery store tantrum, always remain calm, even if you feel embarrassed, guilty, or angry. Before you manage a child, you have to manage yourself first. Being angry is not going to help, but it’s definitely going to set a bad example for your child. Intervene before the child becomes particularly unruly by getting down at the child’s eye level and saying, “Hey, you’re starting to get a little frustrated. Slow down.” If you’re having to hold the child down to prevent him or her from hurting others or taking his rage out on innocent shoppers, reassure the child that you will let them go once their calm and that everything will be all right. However, the NASP website advises, never, under any circumstances, giving into a tantrum. Logically, giving into a tantrum will only increase the frequency of the outbursts. Additionally, resist the urge to reward your child after he or she has come down from their anger high. Temper tantrums should not yield treats or rewards!
Overall, grocery store tantrums are bound to happen. The key to dealing with them? Stick to your guns and to your grocery list. Resisting the urge to buy those treats to pacify your child can help you save money and teach him or her an important lesson.