Supermarkets can be overwhelming for small children and stressful for their parents. Stress makes it hard to think or react well, but some strategies can help.

Supermarkets are busy and exciting places and can be a bit too busy and exciting for a little person to cope with.

The stresses of shopping

The Tākai booklet The Tricky Bits talks about ‘Surviving the supermarket’ (page 6) and how when out shopping there are so many things to see, hear and touch they can be a bit overwhelming.

Shopping can be a bit much for parents too, especially on days when the kids are grizzling for everything they see or not happy to sit in or hold onto the trolley.

Supermarkets are also full of dangers, especially for a toddler. And when parents are shopping with more than one child, it can be especially stressful. The baby might be happy to sit strapped in the trolley watching the world go by, but if their older siblings want to explore in opposite directions, parents may feel anxious.

"Where are they? Can they get outside?"

"What are they touching/trying to open/breaking?"

Stress and the brain

When parents are anxious or worried, they may behave in a way that they feel bad about later. During high stress, the brain doesn’t always function at its best cognitively. It’s more likely to be reacting from the lower ‘survival’ area than responding from the ‘thinking’ region. The public nature of the situation can also add to the stress for parents.

Strategies for making shopping easier

It’s hard to avoid the supermarket – we all have to shop some time.

  • How do you manage with your young family in a busy supermarket or shopping mall?
  • What ideas would you give other parents to try to make the time easier?

Look at the ideas on pages 6 and 7 of the Tākai booklet together.

  • Have you tried any of these suggestions?
  • Were they any good?
  • Were there any improvements on previous trips?

Parent may also like to read the Tākai booklet Staying Calm with Kids.

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