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Holiday shopping is one of the most stressful parts of the season, and it’s even more stressful when you have to bring children along. To help your children stay on the nice list and steer clear of coal in their stocking, managing your child’s behavior and routine is essential.

Stick to a Routine Whenever Possible

During the holiday season and winter break, it’s easy to throw routines by the wayside. While it’s fine to have a little bit of leeway when enforcing rules, children need the structure that a routine provides. Whenever possible, stick to regular and healthy eating and sleeping patterns. Even if you are at the mall and almost done with your shopping list, skipping lunch or an afternoon nap spells nothing but trouble. Also, keep in mind that most food court foods are packed with salt and sugar, which can exacerbate bad behavior. Stick to the healthy choices (or bring snacks in your purse).

Disciplining and Shopping Don’t Always Mix 

Disciplining in front of other people, especially other stressed-out shoppers, is always a little awkward. It’s embarrassing for children, uncomfortable for shoppers around you and often inevitable. Even if you are uncomfortable, you must stick to your agreed-upon behavioral standards. Before taking your children shopping with you: 

  • Have a signal that your child understands means that you want them to improve their behavior. This will give them a chance to correct things without you needing to verbally say so.
  • Set clear standards for behavior beforehand. Are they allowed to walk around the toy store alone or do they need to stay by your side at all times? What should they do if you are separated? Establishing standards gives your child a concrete idea of what you are looking for.
  • Offer a prize for good behavior, especially if the shopping trip will be long or particularly stressful. Whether it’s drinking hot cocoa later that night or going to see the movie of their choice over the weekend, a small reward can help children stay well-behaved.
  • Make your disciplining private if possible. Go to a family restroom or a secluded area of the food court before talking to your child about what needs to be improved and their behavior. Making a scene is uncomfortable for everyone involved, so seeking out privacy is a good way to get the job done without an audience. If you do need to discipline your child with an audience, stay firm and handle the situation as quickly as possible.

Work with CBT Baltimore 

Struggling to get through to your children? Contact CBT Baltimore for more practical parenting advice at 443-470-9815.