Taking Kids to the Mall: Make it Easy!

I know that taking my kids with me on any outing is quite an adventure. They are constantly wanting to stop and look at what they want to, asking me to buy this or that, and whining about how much longer this errand is going to take.

The mall poses many problems when you take the kids along. There are so many things that can catch a child’s eye. I know so many times I have wanted to just go alone, but that isn’t always an option. Sometimes you just have to take the children along. For those times that the children just cannot stay behind, here are some tips to help keep your child occupied while you get your shopping done at the mall.

As a parent you have to be a master in the art of distraction. When it comes to the mall, the distractions are many however you may not want your child distracted by certain things. What you probably won’t think of are the positive distractions! Positive distractions will only distract for a few minutes and can help you keep your child happy for a longer period of time while you get the shopping done.

Take Advantage of Positive Distractions
Wishing Fountains – A quick way to give your child something fun to do is a wishing fountain. Give your child a coin and have him or her toss it into the fountain and make a wish. Children love doing this! It doesn’t cost you much and your child will be talking about making a wish for quite some time afterward. It will keep your child’s imagination busy and that means he or she won’t be able to imagine buying a new toy in the toy store that you have to pass to get to your next shopping stop!

Escalators – I know that my children always want to ride the escalator. They find the stairs that move all by themselves so fascinating! Take a moment to ride up and down the escalator, even if you do not need to go upstairs or downstairs. You can always ride back tot he floor where you need to be, this only takes a few minutes and your child will really enjoy it. however, if your child is riding in a stroller, do not put your stroller on the escalator. This is not safe and should not be attempted. If you do have a stroller take the elevator instead and allow your child to push the buttons.

Play Area – Not all malls have these. If your mall does, take advantage of this benefit! Schedule in extra time in your shopping trip to let your child play in the play area. Tell your child how long they have to play and then give them time warnings. This way they are not surprised when it is time to move on to the next activity.

Sure there are positive ways to distract your child, but what happens when you come up to a negative distraction? This is when parents have to get creative. You don’t want your child to have a meltdown when you tell them they can’t do what they want, but you also don’t have time to stop. How do you handle it?

Handling Negative Distractions
Build Your Own Animal – The biggest negative distraction that I have found is the stuffed animal workshop. This store is literally a child’s wonderland. It has so many things that they love, and it makes their imagination run a marathon just by seeing the outside of the store. The negative part of this store is the cost of making an animal, and the time it takes. This is not a quick or inexpensive distraction for you to take on your rushed mall trip. If you pass it your child will want to stop, and when you say not today it could quickly add up to a child throwing a fit in the mall. Take a different approach. Let your child look at the animals and blow a kiss to his or her favorite. This option may not work for all children. This could also make the situation worse when you walk away, if that is the case with your child, then don’t stop just talk with your child about what type of animal they would want to make and what they would name it and elaborate on this subject. This way they still get to use their imagination, but you still continue on with your shopping. If you have a few extra minutes, you can go in and allow your child to pick out an accessory to go with one of their stuffed animals at home.

Toy stores – Toy stores are another pit fall of the mall. This problem is no more at my mall. The toy store closed down. However, we usually avoided walking past this store whenever possible. If you have time, walk through one aisle and let your child look. But make sure you tell them in advance whether or not you will be buying anything. You can also handle this store similar to the stuffed animal store. Talk about what they would look at if you did have time to go in. Talk about what they may want to put on their birthday wish list or Christmas wish list.

Other child geared stores – These stores include The Disney Store, the Warner Brothers store, or any other character related store. Handle these situations similar to the stores above.

Other ways to keep your child distracted are to bring along a toy or snack. You can also stop to get a snack at the food court, candy shop, or ice cream shop. These are all great ways to keep your little one happy while you shop.

One thing to try and avoid is shopping when it is super busy. Schedule your trips to the mall with the kids at times when it is not as busy. Weekends, Christmas time, and during other big shopping holidays are times to avoid a mall trip with the children. The amount of people in the mall makes it very difficult for children to stay focused on the task and not have a meltdown. Lots of people rushing around can make a child nervous and make mini meltdowns worse and more frequent. So do what you can to avoid the busier times at the mall.

Whenever I have to go do my shopping, I always make sure to schedule extra time in for breaks and stops for the kids. My shopping trip takes longer, but it is worth it not to have to worry about meltdowns from my kids.

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