Sometimes, running errands with a preschooler or toddler can be stressful for both the parent and the child. Before you make your next trip out with your young child, here are some tips that could make things run smoother for everyone.
Start with a positive mindset
Toddlers and preschoolers learn by example, so treat your errands accordingly. While getting ready, talk about the things your child will see or experience that she likes. For example, “When we go to the library, we get to go on a bus!” or “You can help me choose the best fruit at the grocery store.”
Carry this positive attitude as much as possible throughout your errand, as well. While safety concerns will necessitate some sternness, don’t forget to praise your child whenever she does something good, such as talking in her indoor voice on the bus. Set behavior expectations and boundaries, but remember to let your child know when she has done well.
Time your errands correctly
You can likely guess how successful your trip to the grocery store will be if you go before your child has eaten or napped. If possible, it may also be wise to run your errands when places are likely to be quieter overall. Smaller crowds and shorter lines could reduce the likelihood of your child – or you – getting overwhelmed.
Keep your child distracted
Spending a long time in a line or in a waiting room tests everyone’s patience, but for a toddler or preschooler, that frustration point is reached much quicker. To help reduce the risk of a meltdown, occupy him with something he’ll enjoy. Bring along some fun distraction items such as a couple of books, or even some portable snacks such as crackers. You can also play games together while you’re waiting. For example, you can ask your child to point out all the things around you that are yellow, or count the number of people in the room with you.
Teach public manners as early as possible
At home, you can begin teaching your child how to behave in public. This can include things such as not shouting, waiting her turn, or speaking respectfully to you and others. While toddlers and preschoolers are unlikely to have good public manners all the time, you can teach your child important social skills she can build upon in the future.
As a parent, you know your child best. You may be able to do only one errand at a time with him, but with patience, consistence, positivity, and good planning, you might soon find that the process gets easier.