Hate holiday shopping with your kids?

Do’s and don’ts to make the best of it

It’s hard enough to wade through a crowded store or mall by yourself. Add a kid or two in tow and the experience can be downright dreadful.

“Especially during the holidays, parents need to take extra steps to keep their shopping trip from becoming a nightmare,” said Erika Janes, R.N., with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness.

Tips for making shopping less hectic and safer for you and your family:

  • Ditch the shopping cart.More than 20,000 children a year are treated in U.S. emergency departments for reported shopping cart-related injuries. Consider using an alternative such as a stroller, wagon or baby carrier.
  • Be vigilant in parking lots.With pedestrian deaths on the rise — especially among kids and teens — be sure to hold your child’s hand and watch out for distracted drivers.
  • Supervise bathroom visits.It’s easy to get separated or have a stranger approach your child in a busy public bathroom.
  • Select oversized fitting rooms and bring your children inside with you. Again, this is to keep them from getting separated from you.
  • Establish rules ahead of time on how your child should behave once inside a busy store.Who didn’t love hiding under clothing racks when they were a kid? Not so fun for the parent though — it’s one of the easiest ways to lose a child. Make sure your child knows what behavior is expected of them — no knocking things off shelves, throwing toys, hiding in clothes, etc. 
  • Teach your child what to do if you get separated, such as asking a salesperson for help. Make sure your child understands the plan before leaving the house. 
  • If you have multiple kids, dress them in identical and easily noticeable clothing.If one of your children goes missing, you’ll be able to show security exactly what outfit he or she is wearing by referencing your other child’s outfit.  
  • Put a sticker inside each child’s shirt listing your name and cellphone number in the event you get separated. Also, make sure your child knows your name (besides “mom”) and your phone number.

Janes reminds parents that while you might enjoy shopping, most young children don’t.

“If your children follow the rules you established, offer up a small reward such as visiting Santa,” she said. “An incentive will only encourage good behavior.”