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How to Win at Parenting

Have you ever been at Wal-Mart waiting to check out and you suddenly hear a child screaming for candy?  When their mother tells them no, they proceed to flail and scream until they get what they want.  The mother cannot stand the crying and whining and gives in to the demand for candy.  And so, the child has learned that by whining and crying, they can obtain whatever it is they want in that moment.  As parents, do we want the child who is screaming or the child who is asking for things politely?

Let’s take a look at how we can use consistency, clear expectations, and rewarding positive behavior to handle the above situation in a positive way.

Before you even enter a store with your children, set the expectation about how you would like them to behave.  Tell them to stay in the cart or hold onto the cart at all times.  Don’t allow the child to wonder off, or grab things and put them in the cart.  Ask them to help you pick up the things you need and make it a game for them.  My children like to help split up the grocery list and pick up things as quick as they can.  We time ourselves to see how fast we can get done, and we see if we beat our time from the last trip.

Another important thing to do is to set clear limits about the purpose of the trip.  If you are picking up groceries, tell your children before you even enter the store that it is a trip for groceries only.  This eliminates any sort of idea that there will be purchases of toys or other items. 

Reward your child’s positive behavior in the store.  Compliment them for how helpful they were while shopping.  If your goal was to get done quickly, tell them how awesome their quick time was when they picked up the items you asked for.  If they go above and beyond the expectations you have stated, reward them with a candy bar.  Don’t make the reward a guarantee.  By encouraging the positive behavior each time, they know there is a potential of a reward.