By the time Christmas Eve rolls around all Mama usually wants for Christmas is peace and quiet. Peace to enjoy this beautiful time of year and quiet from the frenzy.

One of the challenges during the holidays is shopping with kids. With the barrage of ads and bulging shelves at stores touting the newest, latest, and greatest toys kids get taken in with what they’d like to see under the tree.

When shopping with children, here are a few helpful tactics.

• Set the expectations for polite behavior such as inside voice, sitting in the cart, no whining, before leaving home. Determine a reward for meeting the set expectations- a special story time with Mom, a favorite lunch, playing a fun game. Make sure you follow through!

• Consider the time of day. Shop when your children are well rested and well fed.  Tired + hungry = crabby kids.

• Make the shopping list with your children. Include all the items needed for the people on your gift list. Tell the kids upfront the shopping trip is not to purchase gifts for them but for others. When they ask for an item at the store, refer to the list and say, “No, that is not on our list today.”

• Keep a special notebook in your bag or pocket. When your children see something they like, write it down in this separate notebook. Mention to the kids how much their gift ideas will help Grandma or Uncle Pete.

• Turn off your cell phone. Tune in your children throughout the shopping trip. Kids will get your attentions in polite or impolite ways so focusing your attention on the children and the task at hand will make for a better shopping experience for you and your children.

• Praise them during the shopping trip if they are good shoppers.

• Allow kids to help choose gifts for others. This gives them an important job to do and they will feel special when the gifts are opened.

• At home, involve the children in wrapping the presents and making gift tags. (You can find printable Christmas gift tags at to cut, sign, and color.)

• If your children have met your expectations, praise them! Give them the agreed upon reward and celebrate. Next time you can remind them what wonderful shoppers they were and how you’re sure they can do it again.

• If you’ve run out of strategies and the kids are still misbehaving, be prepared to leave the store. It usually takes only one time for Mom or Dad to say, “We are going home right now. I expected polite behavior not ___________ (whining/complaining/crying).” Then leave.

When you get home, process what went wrong and how the child can make it better next time.

Happy shopping! May you and yours have a merry and bright Christmas!

Written by Becky Danielson, M.Ed.  Becky Danielson, M.Ed., is wife and mom of two teenagers. She is a licensed Parent & Family Educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. Becky is the co-author of EMPOWERED PARENTS: Putting Faith First and Parenting Prose, a regular column in Marriage Magazine. She and her family live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. &

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