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How to stop those toddler tantrums when out shopping

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Gwendolyn Creary has a bullet-proof solution to holiday season toy store toddler tantrums don't take your toddler to the toystore at Christmas, at least not if you don't intend to buy anything for them.

A shrieking toddler yelling 'I want that! I want that! I want that!' is something most parents have experienced at one time or another.

“My blanket suggestion is that if you have a small child, going into the toystore is a kind of torture for them,” said Ms Creary who is the supervisor of the behaviour management programme at the Child Development Programme.

The behaviour programme gives advice to parents about child development and handling problem behaviour in small children. “The simplest suggestion is find a different time to shop. However, if you have to take your two-year-old in, have a conversation before you go. Tell them 'we are going into the store and mummy has to get this toy or that toy for so and so'.”

Ms Creary said if your child does have a tantrum over the Barbie umbrellas, the Ben 10 Action figures or the Zhu Zhu pets (all popular toys this year), if you can ignore it, ignore it.

“If you can not ignore it, you might want to lift the child up, take them out and let them go through their little spell,” said Ms Creary. “It might help if there is some empathetic listening going on. Tell them: I understand that Barbie is something that you wanted, but we can't buy it today. Maybe next year, Santa Claus might buy it for you.”

In this case, she said, be prepared for the frustration.

“Another option is to tell your child, before you go into the store, that they can pick one small thing and only one thing,” she said. “But a lot of parents in these economic times don't have a lot of money for extras, so it might be important to set limits on what that one thing might be, before you go into the store. No matter what strategy you use in the store it is important to prepare them for that experience.”

But she said, any store at any time of the year could be a potential source of trouble for a parent with a small child in tow.

“There needs to be certain rules when I am going into a store,” she said. “Walk next to the cart, for example, or don't pull everything off the shelves.”

Ms Creary said it was important to reward, or at least acknowledge compliance. If the rule is the child must walk beside the cart, and they do that, point it out to them, and praise them.

She said for older children, one strategy might be to put them to work in the store or enlist their help finding certain items on the list, or pushing the cart, or doing something else useful.

“Then you can tell the older child, if you can do that task without difficulty maybe I can get you something you want, or maybe we can go to the park and have a little swing. The treat or reward doesn't always have to be related to what is going on in the store.”

For more information about CDP's behaviour modification programme, or other programmes, contact them at 295-0746.

Must have That...
Christmas can be hard for little people when they can't get everything they want, and hard on their parents.

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Published December 21, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 21, 2010 at 7:26 am)

How to stop those toddler tantrums when out shopping

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