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  Parenting Advice Column
  Subject: shopping with toddler

QUESTION:

I need to make some comments regarding this article [Ten Tips for Shopping with Children]. I have a very high need daughter. We follow the Natural Child philosophy and Dr. Sears has seen us in his office on occasion. I just came back from another attempted shopping trip with my daughter who is 16 months old. It, again, was such a disaster that I came to this site to see the tips listed. I was discouraged when it read "remember, all children behave as well as they are treated" I think I got that right. Anyway, I am here to tell you that this is not the case. And I need some help. So, if possible, help would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

Kim & Ryan Amber


JAN'S REPLY:

Hi Kim and Ryan,

Thank you for having enough faith in me to write even though my slogan didn't seem accurate to you. I appreciate that.

Children do "behave as well as they're treated" but it can be really difficult for even the most loving and capable parent to accomplish this during a shopping trip! And age 16 months is a particularly difficult time for the parents because the child has skills (like wandering off) without having the experience and judgment to be left alone even for a moment. This can be exhausting and frustrating even in the simplest situations, like a quiet afternoon at home. While shopping in a busy and noisy store, it can be absolutely crazy. The good news is that "this too shall pass" and your child will become more and more able to tolerate the inattention that is inevitable during shopping and other stressful and busy situations.

Here is an "extension" to my motto that might help clarify things. "All children behave as well as they are treated by everyone and everything around them." I think we as parents, especially with a very young child, sometimes forget that we aren't the only factor in the child's life. Everyone else who comes into contact with the child, and the environment, both internal - the unrecognized beginning of a cold, teething, etc., and external - such as a busy, noisy, artificially-lighted grocery store, all this has an effect on the child's ability to cope.

What this means in terms of improving things is that (a) we shouldn't blame the child (b) we shouldn't blame ourselves and (c) we should keep stressful trips to a bare minimum. When they are necessary, we should plan ahead, but not expect things to go perfectly each time.

I've had to generalize here, but if you'll send me more details, I'll reply to that as well.

Thank you for visiting the site and please feel free to write again.

Jan

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