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Toddler Wants Out of Shopping Cart

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Hi again Dr. Susan:

Another question. Now my daughter is approaching 21 months. She has always been an extremely outgoing child, talks to strangers, goes to anybody. She is a very happy go lucky child (I try to be that way as a mother as well). She has tons of energy which I think is more than the usual kids, just from being around other kids on play dates. The problem is when we go to a store we put her in the carriage or the shopping cart and she is ok for a few minutes. Then she wants to get out so I tell her she needs to stay near me and not run away. (Usually when I take her out she off running down the store and getting into some type of trouble) but I keep trying each time telling her not to run away. However, she is always off to the races. If I leave her in the cart with a toy or lollipop she usually starts to whine very loudly which makes it difficult for me to shop. She comes very often shopping with me so I would think she would be used to controlling herself but she runs away as if she has never been out of the house.

I hate getting the looks from other people like what is this wild child doing running around the store. I have tried the harness but she just pulls me in all different directions. Any other suggestions. If I seriously scold her she still doesn’t listen. Please help.


Dear Caryn

You are doing fine! Most 2 year olds need to have limits and boundaries 100% of the time. Your boundary is the shopping cart, she needs it. Her limits are set by her need for sleep, play, attention and exercise. Just try to set limits she can handle, and avoid situations she can’t handle. Use substitutions to distract her as your way of disciplining. You don’t have to talk about it. Just remember she will tune you out if you say too much. She’s still got a lot of language and understanding to learn, take it slower.

Thanks for writing!

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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