Going to the grocery store with your child can be overwhelming and stressful. But, with careful planning and preparation, you can get everything on your list and get out free of drama.
By Jacqueline Forchetti, BCBA
Here are 8 tips I use with families to ensure a successful shopping experience and learning opportunity for children:
1. Prepare! As with all outings with children, especially those with special needs, you can never be too prepared! - Take some pictures of both the outside and inside of the store. It's helpful for children to see exactly where they are going in advance. Making the pictures into a mini book and letting your child review it and hold on it prior to the shopping trip can help to minimize anxiety over where you are going. Viewing a store’s website may be helpful as well to have your child familiarize themselves with the new environment they will be going into.
2. Use a visual schedule to plan the day! It is always helpful for a child to have prior notice that a shopping trip is coming. If you can, use a visual schedule to plan your child’s day ahead of time, it can help ease their anxiety.
3 Start Small - If it is your child’s first time to the grocery store or especially if they are very young it is better to make the trip as short as possible. Make a list of no more than 5 things, get in, follow the list, get out! Think, short sweet and successful
4 Practice expected behavior. Use pretend play to practice at home prior to your trip. This can be done through pretend play and role play at home. Setting up a mock store and practicing shopping can be a fun way to prepare for your outing.
Shop some of our favorite items to practice at home: