Difficult toddlers: my child keeps running during shopping trips

We ask parenting expert Kathryn Mewes one reader’s question about her toddler insisting on running away during shopping trips

Q: How can I make shopping trips easier with my two year old son? He will not stay with me and just runs off at every given opportunity, sometimes to the point of me losing him.

A: You’re not the first person to experience this – shopping with a toddler is an activity full of stimulation and they need clear direction in order for it to work successfully.

I suggest the following:

      • Don’t have high expectations. A child aged two can manage three shops or three sections of a department store over a 45 – 60 minute period.
      • Explain what is happening before you do it (ie): “We are going to buy X for Grandma, Y for me and collect a parcel. Then it’s café time!”
      • Be firm and clear about holding hands. If they try to let go of your hand sit them on the floor. Say: “You choose ‘Sit or hand’. Let them remain seated and ignore them. Take note of your environment and spot something that will interest your child. ‘Look at that hat in the window of that shop. Let’s take a look.’ Confidently hold his hand and walk to what you saw. This takes time but after 3 trips of ‘Sit or Hand’ and being consistent you will see your child instantly holds your hand.
      • Give them a purse with some coins in it to “pay the lady” at the end of each shop. Children like responsibility and a ‘role’ to play.
      • Aim for a ‘reward’ at the end of the trip. This might be to have a snack in the car on the way home, a magazine from the final shop or a visit to a coffee shop. A child needs to feel the trip has be them as well.Parenting expert Kathryn Mewes is brought to Baby London in conjunction with Milton. Well known as C4’s Three Day Nanny, Kathryn’s expertise covers sleep problems, eating and weaning, behavior and discipline.

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