Shopping with the kids? Be prepared for tantrums, or a sulky meltdown at the store. Kids tend to get snappy and irritable due to the long queues, big crowds, or simply because you’ve refused to buy what they want. Turn this around, and make shopping a learning and bonding experience. Here’s how:

1. Prepare Ahead Of Time
Feed them before you leave the house, so that hunger doesn’t affect their mood. Carry plenty of drinking water and a small healthy snack, just in case. If you’re visiting a big mall, familiarize yourself with the layout, especially the location of the restrooms. Create your shopping list beforehand, so you don’t have to spend a minute distracted by thinking at the store; after all, your kids will need your attention. It might help to carry a favorite toy, blanket or book, so they have something familiar to hang on to. Most importantly, let them know that you expect good behavior during the trip.

2. Use The Teaching Tool
Shopping can also be a time to be a role model, says Jennifer Shu, author of Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, And A Bottle of Ketchup. Teach them why you pick healthy foods over certain packaged ones, get them to read the nutrition labels and price tags, and ask them to identify the fresh produce based on appearance and smell.

3. Keep Them Busy
Engaging them means fewer chances of a meltdown, whining session or tantrum. Get older kids to locate items in the store, have younger ones cross out items on the list as you buy them. Ask them to help you steer the cart around, place packages from the shelves into the cart, and sort the items and place them in their respective locations, once you get home.

4. Time It Right
Choose a good time to hit the shops, such as in the morning after breakfast or in the early evening after dinner. Weekdays work better than crowded weekends. Don’t presume you’re going to get all the items on your list on the same day. If your child starts crying because they’re tired and homesick, cut short the trip and go back another time. Above all, be patient—whether your kid is taking time to tie a shoe lace, or pondering over what to buy at the toy store.

Keep these tips in mind to make shopping a wholesome and satisfying experience for both, you and your child.

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Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.