Financial IQ

Kids In The Store: 5 Secrets For Raising Master Shoppers

(Shopping with children, by HealthScienceChannel)

I’ll never forget the back flip.

My youngest daughter was only two, but already fiercely independent. We were at Home Depot, and she insisted on being inside our cart instead of strapped into the seat. While we were looking at bathroom fixtures, she perched herself on the edge of the cart and then tumbled off backward, making a complete back flip and landing on her butt.

I watched it happen, in what seemed to be slow motion. She stood up, toddled over to her mother, annoyed but completely unhurt. I just about had a heart attack. Then I pictured myself at the award ceremony for Worst Father Of The Year, thanking the academy for the dubious honor that had been bestowed upon me.

I only mention the back flip because a few weeks ago, I made a comment about good consumer behavior being taught at home. I admitted to being anything but a role model (but in fairness, you have to know my daughter – when she wants something, she will not take “no” for an answer).

Question is, how?

First, let me show you two quick video clips.

This video offers a nice overview of basic shopping etiquette. And wouldn’t you know, strapping your kids into the cart is the first order of business. Actually, teaching younger kids about good consumer behavior is not as daunting as showing older children how to become a responsible customers.

I’ve mentioned how important your own attitude is when teaching a child how to become a better consumer. That’s a point made well by this humorous video. If you’re having a tantrum, odds are you child will think it’s OK to have one, too.

So, to recap: Strap your kids into the cart and be on your best behavior. Now I want to focus on how to create a better customer, not contain a poorly-behaved child.

1. Enlist their help with research

Every successful shopping trip starts with sound planning. Whether it’s making a shopping list or clipping coupons, you’ll want to get some help from your kids. The sooner they learn, the better.

2. It’s all about the money

When you take a child shopping, they’ll try to load up your cart with items they want. Don’t give in. Instead, ask him or her how they intend to pay for the item. Teaching kids about the value of money must start early.

3. Explain your selections

Mindlessly tossing merchandise into your cart may expedite the shopping experience, but what is there to be learned from it? Not much. But if you take just a few seconds to show your kids why you chose one item over another, it can make them more discerning shoppers.

4. Make a budget and stick to it

This is also a good opportunity to show your kids the importance of making a budget and sticking to it. (“Is that on our list?”) Impulse shopping, which can ensnare you at any point on your shopping trip, but particularly at the check-out counter, is hard to resist.

5. Show how to interact with the staff

Employees are there to help you, whether your shopping for clothes or groceries. But how? Kids learn by watching you, but you can also explain: “I can’t find what I’m looking for. I think I’ll ask someone for help.” Do the same thing when you’re returning merchandise – let them see that it’s a routine transaction that should be conflict-free.

Do you have any shopping stories with kids? Can you top my daughter’s back flip story? Send me an email (elliottc@gmail.com) or leave a comment.