Shop with kids and have fun

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

Christmas is drawing near. Do you feel the excitement? If not, I bet your children are. It's the most exciting time of the year for them because they know they'll go shopping.

But every parent knows that shopping with kids can be nerve-racking.

But Anita Jones, a child psychologist, says shopping with young children can be fun and even be a learning experience if it is planned with a child's age in mind.

"Good planning makes shopping with children easier," Jones says. "The most important thing is to set shopping rules early in a child's development.

"Remember that children behave as well as they are treated. A child who is regularly given undivided attention, patience and understanding will have more tolerance for a shopping trip than one who has to face stressful situations without this emotional support."

Jones advises parents to plan shopping trips with children.

"It is important to know where you will be going and what you will be looking for. Tell the child what is to be expected.

"If a child is not an exceptionally good shopper you might want to postpone your window shopping for a time when the child is not with you."

She says allowing a child to bring a friend along can help occupy the child's time and make the trip enjoyable for everyone.

Jones says budgeting wisely is important.

"Children are easily influenced by what's popular with their friends and other children. Know how much money you have to spend before going shopping. If your children know your budget limitations they will have some respect for that guideline.

"Teach older children to budget their money themselves. Tell them how much money they will have to spend."

Jones says the age of a child makes a big difference to your approach to shopping.

"Know your child's limitations before you set out," she says. "Ensure your child is aware of your shopping rules. Be firm. If you say you are going to take action if the child misbehaves, make sure you follow through and take your promised action.

"Allowing a child to get away with poor behaviour sets you up for a repeat performance."

Some basic guidelines:

Small Children

nSet a time frame. Make sure children understand how long the trip is going to take. Tell them how many stores you expect to go to.

nDo not go shopping with a tired or hungry child. See to your child's basic needs before going out shopping together.

nIf you are planning a long shopping trip that might bore children, it would not be inappropriate to reward their good behaviour with a treat.

Older Children

nSet guidelines for whether or not they have to stay with you. If children are responsible enough to be left on their own, set a meeting time and place.

nSet a time frame. Know how much time you have to shop and try to stick to the time frame.

nKnow the purpose of the trip. Are you just looking for ideas or do you intend to buy?

nKnow how much money you are willing to spend. Sticking to a budget sets a good example for children and teaches them that you are serious about limiting your spending.