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Shopping tips

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We’ve all been there. Watching on helplessly as your toddler has a complete meltdown in a busy shop or supermarket. It‘s stressful for you and makes shopping such hard work.

You’ve probably tried a lot of things already, but our list of tried and tested tips from other parents will hopefully give you plenty of good ideas for dealing with tantrums.

Top tips for taking your toddler to the shops

Tip #1: Walking around

Tip #1: Walking around

Tip #1: Walking around

Children can get bored sitting in a trolley. Especially once they’ve started walking. So if you’ve got a bit of time, and its not too busy, why not let them walk about so they feel like they have a bit more freedom?

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Tip #2: Fun shopping

Cut out some pictures of everyday food from a magazine and then ask your wee one to help you find them while you go round the shop.

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Tip #3: Point things out

Tip #3: Point things out

Tip #3: Point things out

Pointing things out together down the aisle or by the checkout can lead to fewer tantrums.

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Tip #4: Don't worry

“If your child is screaming, other parents stare at you and it can be very stressful and really embarrassing. But when I know my child’s not coming to any harm, I think, ‘Who cares? Your child went through it too."

Suzanne, mum to Callum, 9, Kieran, 5, and Rachael, 2.

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Tip #5: Ask for their help

Tip #5: Ask for their help

Tip #5: Ask for their help

Toddlers are more likely to have tantrums when they’re bored. To stop this happening, you can try asking your child for their help picking out a few things you need around the shops. Something as simple as asking them to choose between two cereals can help them to feel more involved.

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Tip #6: Let them know

Try talking to your child before you go to the shops and tell them what you’re looking for. You can tell them that you’re going to buy milk, eggs and bread, and then tick them off together when walking around the supermarket.

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Tip #7: Rewards

Create a star chart at home for good behaviour. Tell your child that if they are good when you are out shopping, they will get a star!

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Tip #8: Be positive

Tip #8: Be positive

Tip #8: Be positive

When you’re out and about, don’t forget to give your toddler a smile, or some words of encouragement when they’re behaving well. This can help to make them feel happy and hold off those tantrum feelings.

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Tip #9: Silly Sausage

Playing daft games is a great way to keep your child entertained when out at the supermarket. Playing games like "Silly Sausage" where you ask lots of questions and they answer each one with "silly sausage" could keep your child busy and help avoid tantrums.

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What the professionals say

“Shopping with your child can sometimes be difficult. Your toddler throws a tantrum in the supermarket and you don’t know what to do. No-one knows your child better than you, so you’re in the best position to be able to spot what leads to a tantrum and either stop it from happening or deal with it effectively. But don’t worry when they do happen. Tantrums are just your toddler’s frustrations bubbling over. They can be difficult for them to deal with on their own and hugely frustrating for mums and dads too. Look out for and try to avoid common triggers like your toddler being tired, hungry, or too hot or cold.”

Carol Ramsay, Family Nurse Supervisor, NHS Tayside Family Nurse Partnership (FNP)

More information

Our Help and advice page has lots of different places to look for support. You can talk to your Health Visitor or Family Nurse about your child’s behaviour and how you are dealing with it.

For other tried and tested help with tantrums, you can also check out Ready Steady Toddler for lots more suggestions and tips.

This article was created as part of 

NHS Health Scotland

Last updated: 8 Nov, 2018


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