Grocery Shopping with Children: Do’s and Don’ts

Ever had to drag your child to the shops, because you were low on supplies, or because you maybe just needed a change of scenery? Do you dread taking them to the shops, but have no other choice, either because you have no help at home, or your husband is working long hours?

Fear not! Simply follow our simple do’s and don’ts to make the experience that much easier and smoother for you.

The aim is to try make the shopping experience, a time for being together and maybe even make it into a learningexperience and get home in one piece (without forgetting items on your list!)

Do: Make it fun. Let them push the cart, let them race around finding all the items that you need. Sing songs as you are walking around, and make it into a fun number of games such a spotting certain numbers in prices, or even play ‘eye spy’ for specific vegetables

Do: Practise reading the shopping list. If your child is starting to learn to read, use this as a reading opportunity. As you pick out each item, ask them to tick it off.

Do: Ask them what they would like to buy before you head out of the house. The same goes for when you are in the store – involve them in choices. It could be as simple as which yogurt to buy. If you have an older child, ask them to write the list, and if they are younger, try drawing small pictures of the items to help them follow the list.

Don’t: Take the kids to the supermarket when it is super busy – try going in the early morning and avoid public holidays and weekend mornings if possible.

Do: Let them talk to the butcher or fish monger so they understand their food better. Use this as a time to build on their social skills and at the same time persuade them to ask questions about where the food comes from.

Don’t: Go shopping when you know they are hungry! Schedule trips for after mealtime. This will help with reducing impulse purchases and reduces the tantrums if they can’t get their favourite cheese sticks or biscuits.

Do: Play games in the store: this could be as simple as finding the word – Discount/Sale or choosing healthy food for snacks or maybe even making a game of “who can collect the most different types of potatoes within 1 minute”.

Don’t: Rush. If you have a long list of groceries, consider going without them to the shop. If you have some free time and are not in a rush, then take them along and enjoy the experience.

Do: Set expectations before you leave the house or the car, explain to them what is happening. For example, they are not allowed to ask for extra items that are not on the list, or that if they help out and behave they can have a small treat (maybe a new snack bar) at the end of the shopping trip.

Don’t: Expect them to understand all the rules. Teach them patience by standing in line to ask for help nicely and to be respectful.


Have you found anything that helps with your shopping trip? This could also be appropriate for other types of shopping such as clothes shopping. Always try and see the positive side of the outing and enjoy your time together.