Preventing Meltdowns While On The Go
6 Best tips to keep toddlers happy while you run errands
We’ve all been there….
Running to the grocery store or running to do a quick errand with our little ones when suddenly its meltdown time. Everyone within a couple mile radius can hear the crying, whining, stomping and pleas from your child.
And nothing will stop it!
It’s not only uncomfortable for everyone present but frustrating when you are trying to get things done like buying food to make dinner that night – you can’t just walk out of the store with no groceries.
We all had our fair share. Sometimes, there seems there isn’t a way to get thru the checkout line without tears and loud cries. Grocery stores don’t help matters much when they display every possible candy bar right at eye view and then have lollipops right by the register!
Experience is a great teacher! We’ve learned a few tricks along the way to prevent meltdowns when we are out and about. I certainly hope these will help you as much as they have helped us.
Would also love to hear your tips and tricks.
6 Best Tips For Preventing Meltdowns
1. Set Expectations Before you Step A Foot Inside the Store
Little ones do understand much more than we give them credit for. If we explain and reason with them, they will understand what is expected of them and what’s the purpose of the trip.
For instance, when I have to take my little one shopping for a birthday party gift, we talk about the joy of giving to others and I emphasize that this time we are only buying a nice gift for a friend and not buying for ourselves.
So set expectations before you get there and rehearse while getting out of the car.
Make sure these are positive expectations. For example, saying and repeating: “we are only buying food today” is a lot more positive than “we are NOT buying any toys today!”
A good book on positive expectations: Love & Logic
2. Shop ahead or after Naptime & Meal Time
Run errands after nap times (ideally).
Know your child’s schedule and try as much as possible to go either long before naptime or after napping.
A tired baby or toddler won’t be happy customer. Tired toddlers don’t want to walk thru store aisles. Instead they want to be carried. Quite difficult to do when you have a baby and a shopping cart to handle.
Go to the store after meal times.
We’ve all heard this simple rule before: don’t got the grocery store on an empty stomach. Hungry little ones will reach for everything and anything in sight if they’re hungry . Not to mention they will get grouchy (hmm…. that sounds like me when I’m hungry!).
3. Bring a healthy protein-rich snack with you
If you do have to go to the store, make sure to bring a snack with you …little kids can’t wait to eat till you get home. It makes for a much more pleasant experience if their tummies are full 🙂
Some ideas for protein rich snacks:
- Almond butter sandwich easy to make and protein rich. (Barney almond butter)
- Raw nuts (unless of course your children have a nut allergy)
- Coconut milk or almond milk.
- Natural Protein Bar: I make sure to read labels – no junk ingredients for me or my kids!
Look for bars that contain no corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors.
These are some of the best ones I’ve found:
Note: Good protein bars can be a bit on the expensive side so I get them on sale and stack up!
Other snack ideas:
Pretzels with almond buttter
4. Have a healthy treat handy
Rewards for good behavior work great for us!
A sweet but healthy snack so we don’t have to get the first lollipop we see at the entrance or checkout counter. These will satisfy the sweet tooth without giving them a sugar high and a crash later.
Keep in mind, they shouldn’t contain artificial dyes or you will have a hyperactive kid in your hands. You can read more about it here.
5. Keep a fun toy for entertainment in your bag.
Having a ‘surprise’ toy can make a big difference for your child’s attitude in case that doctor’s appointment goes too long. As they are getting bored sitting and waiting, putting out that fun toy will help keep them entertain for a while longer.
Just keep a small one in your bag that you can carry at all times and one they haven’t gotten tired of (a toy hidden for a while becomes ‘new’ again). You can also keep in your bag, small new toys from the dollar store. If its new it will capture their attention.
If we on going to a restaurant, I pull out the crayons and a pad of paper in case the restaurant doesn’t offer some. Waiting for food on an empty tummy makes any child grumpy.
Best toys for on the go:
Keep the kids entertain and learning. Check them out:
6. Catch them before the point of no return..
What is the point of no return? When your child is in full fledged meltdown mode. Then its too late too try and reason with them.
If your child starts to get antsy, stop what you are doing and pay attention to them. Are they trying to ask you a question or are they frustrated about something? Just giving your children your unpided attention for a few minutes and making eye contact with them can subdue a meltdown in progress.
Reassurance and empathy go a long way: acknowledge their feelings reassure them everything will be ok.
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