The little one rounded the corner, alone, crying, carrying her pink, velcroed, tennis shoes. She was maybe three years of age, at the most.
“Are you looking for your Mommy?” I asked. I looked around, expecting to see a frantic mama in search of her child. No one matched that description.
Then out popped a young mom from behind the shelves of shoes. I suppose she was fearful of me, a stranger, talking to her child.
“Oh, look! There’s your mom. See she won’t leave you. She’s right here.” 
The woman gave me an icy stare and said, “I was hiding to teach her a lesson.” Oh boy…My stomach tightened.
This had ugly potential.
She picked up her child and plopped the little gal on the bench. She grabbed the mini-psychedelic -shoes and held them in her daughter’s face.
“If you don’t put on your shoes, I’m calling the monsters.” 
The Pippi Longstocking pigtails bobbed up and down with each hiccup sob. This poor little one was being terrorized right before my eyes. The mom thought she was doing it right.
I said nothing. I had no idea how to say what I wanted to say. This mom needed help. I could help her. I’m ashamed to say I sat by and did nothing. I’m praying she will read this post.
So here are three tips, when shopping with a young child: 
1. Have the youngster in a stroller, contained. Keep her there.
Shopping with the littles can be tough, especially if you have more than one child. When my kids were young I would load up one cart with all four and pull a second one.
2. If the child is not in the buggy and wanders off , runs away, or doesn’t come when you call, DO NOT hide or threaten to leave. Go after that kid. Tell the child, “I will never leave you. I will always protect you.” Then pick up the screaming and kicking stinker (positioning the legs away from you, of course) and put him or her back in the cart.
3. In the case above, the mother wanted the child to put on her shoes. She could have said this, “You have a choice, you can put the shoes on yourself or I will help you.” Most preschool or toddler children want to do things, “By self.” 
Prevention is also helpful:
1.      State, “When we go shopping you must stay in the stroller or hold my hand for safety.”
2.  Avoid shopping during the bewitching hours of mealtime or nap time. A hungry tired child is not a good little shopper.
3.      Engage you child in the event. “Help me find….. Do you see……? 

Most of all…stay calm. Stay in control. And keep the errand short.

© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.

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