Let’s be honest, you don’t want to be the adult with the screaming child in the grocery store. We’ve all been there—the shaking heads, the sounds of disapproval, and the staring, rolling, stabbing eyes of each passerby. While other shoppers flee the scene, you’re frustrated and hoping that maybe just one kind person will give you the 4 words you are dying to hear, “I totally get it” (I do, by the way).
Sometimes, you, the child, or both of you, are just having a bad day. Often, something deeper is at play. Suppose, for example, that the child is REALLY hungry and REALLY wants an apple? What you don’t realize is that the child is screaming because he wants an apple to eat, but can’t come up with the word “apple.” Maybe he was reaching for it and you started pushing the cart in the other direction. Maybe he tried to say “apple,” but you just heard, “aht-o,” and didn’t understand.
You and the child are having a miscommunication. Successful relationships thrive on good communication. Speech & Language Therapy is all about providing the tools to foster healthy and productive communication (it is far more than curing “lisps,” correcting distorted “r” sounds, or teaching a child to express his desire for an apple.)
All children misbehave from time-to-time. It is natural, for kids to experiment and to test the boundaries and limitations placed around and upon them. However, if patterns of misbehavior seem more frequent or exaggerated than normal (trust your gut on this), further investigation (including evaluation by a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist) may be warranted.
It is our job as the parents/guardians/caretakers to think deeply about reasons for misbehavior—sometimes not just for the sake of the child, but also for our own sake! Should you ever need us, we’re here to help (or to point you to someone else who can). We totally get it!
The next time you are headed to the grocery store, try these five tips (courtesy of Little Buggy Speech & Language Therapy)
- Go to the grocery store AFTER your child has been fed a proper meal OR go to the store knowing that you will immediately go to a desired food item and give it to her/him (hunger can be a powerful source of stress–especially in a food-rich environment).
- Communicate your expectations prior to entering the store (even if you think the child will not understand), “We are going to the grocery store and I know you will be a good girl/boy and sit nicely in the cart. We just need to get a few things and then we’ll be done.”
- Make the trip fun and engaging. I sing, “We’re going on a hunt, going on a hunt, looking for the (insert item here), we’re going on a hunt!” Engaging the child in the activity and allowing her/him to be a participant will also make her/him more compliant. Giving her/him the items to throw in the cart, or put on the conveyor belt, is also a job kids enjoy.
- Pay attention to the child’s cues. If s/he is reaching for something, use the context as a guide (and queue for communication) and start asking questions. Hold up the item you think s/he might want and ask her/him, “Do you want a mango?” S/he might shake her/his head “no,” cry, or make some other expression that lets you know “no.” Hold up another one, and so on until you get a ‘BINGO!’ Once you have solved the mystery of what s/he wanted, give it to her/him and say, “Oh, I see now. You wanted an apple. Can you tell me, “apple”? ‘Aaaaaapple’ (while showing him the sign for ‘apple’).”
- Use humor: “Oh look here’s the yogurt I was looking for (while holding up a banana)!” Your child will think you are a comedian.
Special Guest Blog by Toni Francisco.
Come join us for a Q+A with Toni Francisco, MA CCC-SLP and founder of Little Buggy Speech and Language Therapy at our next Beverly Hills Nanny Group! She is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist with over 10 years of experience in treating a wide variety of individuals ranging from pre-school children to school age children. If you’ve ever had questions about children’s speech, you won’t want to miss this event! Click here for the info: EVENTBRITE