How I taught my kids to behave in the grocery store

Yes it’s true – my kids used to be grocery store beggers…. and fighters… and worst of all whiners.

They don’t do that any more.  They still don’t love grocery shopping, and I do my best to avoid taking them with me.  But when they do go, one of them pushes the cart while the other one “helps” me.

I’ve even gotten complements on how well they behave.

It didn’t used to be this way, trust me.

The Confession

I used to be one of those super-couponers.  I could load my cart to the brim and watch the total drop from $700 to $50.

At that point, couponing is almost like a full time job.  It’s serious business and it takes a LOT of concentration to make sure you get the optimal match-ups.  Since I had multiple coupons for the same product, it was even harder.

Two uncooperative kids didn’t make it easier, but it happened… frequently.

One of those trips involved stocking up on pop tarts, chips, cookies, sugar cereal, and fruit snacks.   All in the same trip.

The kids were in *AWE*.

I had a dozen boxes of each of their favorite forbidden foods all in the cart.  I could have fed a small VBS for a week with that stuff.

The Incident

That’s when my kids started whining and begging and crying.

Something about seeing all those colored boxes piled to overflowing must have done something to their little brains.

All I know is that my kids suddenly had simultaneous meltdowns.  We’re talking roll-on-the-floor screaming fits.  In the middle of the cereal aisle.

The cop on the next aisle came over to check on us.

I am NOT kidding.

grocery store confession

The Cure

Since I was already experiencing as much parental shame as I possibly could, I knew things couldn’t get worse.  There was NOTHING that could have happened that would make it more embarrassing.

So I forcibly drug my kids to the front of the store with me… they were still screaming and crying.

EVERYONE got out of my way.  I think people were hiding in the floral department, peeking from between the roses to see what would happen next.  It was THAT bad.

I pushed the cart right up to the manager.

Sir, I’m sorry but I can’t finish shopping today.

The man was speechless.  He just stared at me in shock.

I slung my purse over my shoulder and picked up BOTH screaming kids.  I carried them BOTH – screaming – all the way out to the car.

(given that my kids each weighed around 50 pounds at the time, this was no easy task.  it’s amazing what pure fury can achieve)

I didn’t go back.  I didn’t buy the junk.  We did without.

The Impact

The next several times we went to the store, my kids would start to act up.  I pulled them over to a quiet corner and gently reminded them of the basket of pop tarts and fruit snacks.

It worked.  Every time.  They understood.

The Bottom Line

I would have never planned this particular parenting moment.

No mom in their right mind would think “hmm… lets fill a basket with my children’s favorite sugary snacks and then push it around the grocery store until they have a melt down.  It’s the perfect teachable moment.”

But if you happen to find yourself on the cereal aisle watching your kids roll around on the floor while you assure a policeman that you really are ok…

…I highly recommend the speedy exit.

It’s your turn…

What’s your best grocery store story?


Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

Latest posts by Susan Baker (see all)


  1. Nancy Evans Wahmhoff says

    Simply brilliant!

  2. Nancy Evans Wahmhoff says

    Simply brilliant!

  3. I LOVE IT!!! I did that once too and it really does work. They will always remember that time and never wnat to experience it again.
    karen recently posted..Crocheting and The Space ThiefMy Profile

  4. So far, my worse experience has been when Zeva was still about 6 months old, and I had to take the kids grocery shopping by myself for the first time EVER. I had to take all three of them, and the boys were being louder than Zeva because they were trying to calm her down by being silly. I was telling eveyrone around me sorry left and right. The funny thing is everyone was laughing and saying \”it will all be over before you know it.\” I haven\’t had a problem again to date yet. Now Zeva is usually quiet as a mouse in a store. My boys are well mannered to the point that I get compliments.

  5. Love it! My worst grocery store story was when I had the two older ones with me (preschool age and younger, probably 4 and 2 or somewhere around there) and they decided to start screeching at each other in the grocery store. Not fighting, but one would let out a huge screech and then the other would try to top it. I tried to stop them of course…who wants to hear this while they are grocery shopping? Not me, and I am certain not the other shoppers either. Well it continued on and I finally said, that’s it, we’re leaving if you do it one more time. Of course they did, and I went straight away to pay for what was in my cart and left. Well a woman actually followed me out to my car and told me I was overreacting, that my kids were cute. I can tell you I was pretty irritated. Who did she think she was chastising me for leaving the grocery store because my kids wouldn’t stop screeching? I still cringe when I see her around town — and it was at least 12 years ago. No, I don’t know her, but I don’t think I will ever forget her face.
    Michelle recently posted..Life’s Disappointments and How Kids Can Surprise You {Guest Post}My Profile

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge
Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial
Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.
%d bloggers like this: