Monday, August 30, 2010
Are You Queen of Your Cart?
When I take my kids to the market with me, I always get them a treat, or snack, of some kind. It makes my life easier.
Our local supermarket gives away free cookies. I am not thrilled about giving my children sweets at ten o'clock in the morning, but the cookies are small, and the price is right.
Trader Joe sells bananas by the piece (19 cents) and not by the pound, so each child gets a banana.
Target is where they get me. Target has goldfish crackers in individual sized boxes, prominently displayed at the entrance to the store. They are a dollar. This does not seem like a lot, but each trip to Target requires a two to three dollar investment in goldfish crackers. I call this the Target Tax. Yes, this is corporate evil at work, but it could be worse. Until recently, if you wanted these perfect child sized treats, the only place in the entire store you could get them was an end rack in the toy department. Now, that was evil.
There are several schools of thought on when and if it is appropriate to give your children snacks while shopping. Today, I will be discussing three of them.
First, there are parents who never give their children anything while in any store. This keeps snacking within prescribed snack times and teaches children not to ask for things in the store. (This also happens to be the method most favored by people who have not actually had children yet, because it sounds so reasonable and responsible.)
Well, I say, "Congratulations!" to those parents. I wish them well. I, however, do not wear my underpants that tight. Nor, am I a bionic NO-machine. If I tried this, my children would beg, then whine, then cry. Then win. I would give them a treat, just so that they would leave me alone along enough to find the right brand of toothpaste. (And why has that become so complicated?) Thereby rewarding bad behavior. Besides, my kids eat like every two hours. They are most likely, legitimately hungry.
There are other parents who give treats at the end of the shopping trip as a reward for good behavior while in the store. This may work with older children. But it is my experience, that children under the age of five, especially boys, have no concept of "later." To small children, there in NOW and NOT NOW.
Let me illustrate. Mother says, "Johnny, if you are good in the store while I am shopping, I will give you a treat when we check out". Johnny hears, "If you are good NOW, I will give you a treat NOT NOW." Hardly motivational from little Johnny's perspective, when he could run up and down the isles NOW. Besides, this method also requires a whole lot of reminding and threatening. Who wants to be doing that the whole trip?
The third method, and the one I prefer, was suggested to me by my mother-in-law. (Thank you, Grandma Christine!) I give my kids their treat right away. I get to be in charge of what the treat will be. There is never a battle of wills for me to lose. And, they are so busy eating, they don't bug me. It's not perfect. And I still must shop quickly. But, I remain Queen of the Shopping Cart.