How to stop your child from having a temper tantrum while you shop

A Hull shopping centre has launched a kids club to help stop temper tantrums during the summer holidays.

The Prospect Shopping Centre is inviting children to join the free club which gives them access to a fun activity trail to complete as they walk around the centre to keep them entertained.

They will also get access to free play areas and other events throughout the year.

The centre is also working with psychologist Dr Sam Wass – best known for her appearances on the Channel Four programme The Secret Life of Four Year Olds – to give parents advice on how to stop the tantrums before they start.

And even the centre’s security team is being trained in “tantrum taming” who can step in to help flustered parents if needed.

As part of the kids club, children who join will be given a goodie bag which has activities to complete during their shopping trip inside and a membership card which entitles them to exclusive in-store discounts.

Maria Kamper, centre manager at Prospect Centre, said her team understand how stressful shopping can be for parents.

She said: “Most of us have all experienced our own kids having a meltdown or felt the pain of other parents struggle to keep their toddler happy while shopping.

“At Prospect Centre we’re also working with Sam to come up with several tactics to make shopping more fun for younger children.”

“Our Kids Club will offer free events for children throughout the year, special offers for parents who sign up, and a “child safe” scheme giving parents piece of mind when out shopping.

“Based on our research, we believe this will help keep children amused and incentivise good behaviour meaning happy families all round.”

Figures released by the centre’s owners NewRiver suggest almost 40 per cent of parents have experienced their child having a tantrum while shopping.

A poll of 2,000 parents found two in five of Yorkshire parents claim their child has thrown a tantrum while shopping, with one in five saying they would rather avoid a trip to the shops with the kids for fear of their child misbehaving.

And Dr Wass says that is because children are more affected by moving from a calm environment to a stressful one than adults are.

She said: “Most children throw tantrums at some point but, of all the times when they might misbehave, shopping is one of the most common.”

“From a scientific point of view, we understand quite well why this is. Children tend to be more up and down in their moods than adults are and are more affected by moving from a calm environment to a stressful one.

Shops tend to be full of unfamiliar people and can be quite an unstructured and unpredictable experience. Children can feel they have no control over what happens next which can cause anxiety.”

To join the kids club, sign up on the Prospect Shopping Centre’s website here. You will receive an email confirming you have been signed up with a voucher to pick up your child’s goodie bag.

Dr Sam Wass has also provided her top tips for parents to help manage the structure of shopping:

Time

Time is a difficult concept for children to grasp so giving your child a clock or timer to look at would be a good way of helping them feel in control of the situation. Agree a time limit for being in the shop, encouraging them to watch it countdown.

Checklist

Make the experience interactive and agree a shopping checklist which children can help to tick off, understanding that once the list is complete it’s time to go home. Ask them to help find the items they like: ‘Oh look, we’re in the cereal aisle, can you find the Ready Brek?’

Breaks

Plan regular breaks in between shops with intervals of play or refreshments to keep children stimulated and give structure to the trip.

Rewards

If you do want to buy a present for a child, it’s better not to give them the treat the moment they ask for it. Learning to wait is an important life skill for children to develop. Rewards for good behaviour are most effective when they are predictable, consistent and when the child can see them coming in advance.

Warning signs

Look for early warning signs of an outburst (agitation, hunger, tiredness or stress) and try to preempt the problem with a break, or a healthy snack.

Be aware that your mood affects your child’s mood, shouting at an already anxious child is likely to make them behave worse, not better.