Sunday, 11 July 2010

Why I hate shopping!


Is it the hassle of handling the shopping so many times.... into the trolley, out again at the till, pack the bags, load the car?
NO! Its the rantings of other parents that make me mad. I get so irritated by the, usually loud 'Stop it!!', 'Come here!', 'I told you before!', 'Pack it in!' In short, the supermarket is a reflection and huge reminder of today's poor interaction between parent and  child. The parent is frustrated, hassled and completely fed up by the ordeal and the child, who has long switched off to his parents ranting, is just pain bored. The negativity from both sides is almost palpable.
It could be an ideal place for language stimulation and meaningful exchange: Consider 'Do you want red or green apples?', 'What would you like for tea?','Can you get me the Shreddies then the Cheerios please?' The above would have helped the child's attention, co-operation, listening, sequencing and more plus their self esteem because they would feel their contribution is valued. It takes no more time or effort and means that everyone would be happier.
Communication between adults is probably at an all time low but between parent and child it is frighteningly poor. I'm not tarring everyone with the same brush, I'm talking in general terms. The supermarket, however is an ideal place to observe a whole cross-section of society. It's not just a lack of education that is causing this..... look around and you see all walks of life falling into the same trap.
I've got two little boys who like to help and we chat all the way round the aisles. They enjoy going and feel they are helping .*
I know adults today are very stressed and they have a lot on their plate. I can sympathise but I can't understand why they can't just take a step back and look a how they are interacting with their children. What message are they giving them? It's a fact that the levels of language and communication skills in children are declining: around 40,000 start school each year without the necessary levels to cope with the written language tasks ahead. These are not children with speech or language disorder, these are children with transient difficulties through lack of appropriate stimulation.
What can we do about it? It needs a huge drive to emphasise what problems we are creating by not interacting and to show its an actually easier and much more pleasant option to communicate with your child. One of the main aims of the Smart Talkers Pre-school groups is to help to address this issue The development of human communication is amazing, fantastic, awesome... there aren't enough superlatives to describe it. We need to recognise it and know what part we can play in helping our own children.
In the meantime, I prefer to avoid the supermarket so I don't feel stressed by the other parents....
Tesco man here between 10 and 11!! .

*apart from they can't resist the shiny floors for knee slides but hey no ones perfect! There's probably another parent writing her blog about irresponsible parents who allow that sort of behaviour!


  1. Great observations Libby. I have to admit, there are plenty of times I hear myself snapping and saying things that are completely unhelpful and make me cringe. The big difference I notice is when I'm in a mode of constant reaction, usually due to a number of factors including stress, tiredness, juggling, divided attention, competing distractions, noise, chaos and then some more. And it takes a moment of interruption to reset my intentions and actually decide what I want to communicate, which is sometimes a bit like stopping to catch your breath when you're running for the bus. I think I get it right some of the time. And yes I'm a big fan of online shopping too :)

  2. I too get frustrated with other parents and their non-attention to their children. We often make up meals as we're going around shops or markets, or the boys decide they want ingredients to make something. Often costs me more than expected, but I economise at other parts of the week.
    It's a reflection on our relationship with children what we ask them to get involved with. Good post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I couldn't agree more. As a psychologist specialising in child development I'm also horrified at the decline in communication. Teachers are struggling to teach children to read because many kids have poorly developed verbal skills when they start school...and from then on the problem just gets worse.
    Thanks so much for raising this and for your sensible advice, keep up the good work!