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When a toddler walks out the store with an item he/she picked up; the child is too young to realize that it is wrong. The child just saw something he/she wanted and took it. Toddlers minds don't work like our minds.
You may know of someone who could use some of these tips or you may have some tips of your own to add to this topic. Or you may not agree with some of the things I say.
I observed something a couple of months ago that impelled me to write this article. I went to a little corner store to pick up a snack. An adult and a toddler, approximately four years old, were in the store.
When they were on the way out the door, the clerk said, ďThe kid has a bag of candy inside the jacketĒ. The adult took the candy from the crying child and paid for it, then gave it back to the child who immediately stopped crying. In my opinion that was a big No! No!
Toddlers donít realize that they are doing anything wrong if they walk out of a store with an item thatís not paid for. They are too young to really know right from wrong. Their minds donít work like our minds. They think that they are just picking up something that they want. However, if a child hides something that he/she takes, they know that what they are doing isnít exactly right. They know that it just donít feel right.
If a child takes candy, toys, or anything from a store shelf; without your permission; be gentle but firm and tell the child to put it back and explain that they canít pick up anything unless you say so. If the child doesnít put it back. You should take the item from the child and put it back even if the child cries or throw a tantrum. Toddlers throw tantrums to get their way. Donít be intimidated. Donít give in. Donít stand there and argue with a little toddler; no means no.
If a child takes something from a store and attempts to walk out of the store with it; as soon as you realize what is going on; have the child put it back. Again, donít let the childís crying or tantrum throwing intimidate you. If the child wonít put the item back on the shelf; take it from the child and you must put it back.
Explain to the child that itís a no, no. If you feel that you must pay for the item, do so, but donít give it back to the child, that will only teach the child that itís okay, even if it feels wrong. Donít even give it to the child at a later time.
Donít let the child eat apples or other fruits or part of it while youíre shopping. Donít let the child eat the open candy thatís on display in the store. Some stores have open candy that you must bag yourself. Donít let the child help himself to this candy. If the child has a healthy appetite; give him/her a snack before going to the store. This should hold the child until he/she get back home.
If a child is holding a toy or snack in his/her hand when you are at the check out counter. Ask the child to give the item to the cashier so it can be paid for, let the child know that he/she will get it back. Some children may not want to do this, in that case, you will have to take it and let the cashier ring it up, then give it back to the child. Donít spend ten minutes arguing with a toddler about giving up the item. Be gentle, but, take the item from the child, just say this has to be paid for and leave it at that. After this happens a few times, most toddlers will voluntarily give it to the cashier, because the child will learn that he/she will get their toy or whatever back after itís paid for.
It is so important to teach toddlers that they canít have what is not theirs at the store or anywhere. You will have to keep repeating these steps with the toddler until he/she learns. Remember, youíre working with toddlers, they wonít learn overnight. They will still try to make the crying and tantrum throwing work. Just donít give in. We donít want them growing up with bad habits. Toddlers are smarter than we think. They know that they can cry and throw tantrums to get their way, if we let them get away with it. If we pay for items they pick up and give it back to them; they wonít be learning anything. It is up to us to teach these little angels.