For many of us, the holidays are a time of intensive shopping. Taking a young child shopping for gifts and groceries in crowded stores and malls can be a stressful event for parents and children alike. Nonetheless, if you take your child with you on your shopping excursions, you can turn this event into a rich learning experience.
Remember that young children learn new things constantly, and that there are many ways and many opportunities to teach while you are shopping together:
Ask your child to help you choose a gift for a friend, a sibling, or a family member. Present some choices and discuss what this person would prefer, and talk about how happy this person will be to receive a gift. This will help your child learn to see things from someone else’s point of view.
Be a good example. Model patience for your child when waiting in a long line by talking about how it makes you feel and how you can deal with it. For instance, “I don’t like waiting like this, but I have to. Maybe time will go by faster if we talk about the decorations we are going to put in the house later.”
Watch for signs that your child is getting overwhelmed. At this age it is still difficult for children to behave appropriately in stressful situations, and it is a good idea to keep shopping trips as short as possible.