So last week I shared about how hard it is for me to ditch the to-do list and let go of completing it with precision. I have been working really hard since I published that post to stay in the moment and just let the day go where it goes. Today, I am really proud of how my day went with my kids. Mostly.

It’s Saturday and my husband is gearing up for his busy season at work which means he is working another full day today. He was away from home last week for 3 whole days. Now this week he is working 6 days straight. I know a lot of parents live like this, but it is stressful living like that week after week, year after year with zero back up. No family member around the corner to offer help. No one to call so I can run to get milk. I have to schelp both kids every where I go for the smallest of reasons. It’s just me loading two kids into the car, two kids with very big opinions, and very big emotions that can drop like a bomb at any time.

Anyway I am really proud of myself for not losing my shit in the store with my two adorable, yet whiny and demanding kids today. No really when they want something (and not simply toys) I can’t always redirect. I have to spend at least 5 minutes explaining the why portion of it or it blows up to be a huge meltdown demanding my attention (and anyone else passing by). It isn’t always easy to let go of the feeling of annoyance while running on empty myself.

Today, I simply needed two items from Target.



It turned into the longest 45 minutes of my life. I promised the kids they could have one little toy puppy for their doll set. They earned it, I just picked the prize. They picked out these little pups weeks ago and I said, “some day.” But when it came time to deliver on my promise suddenly these little stuffies weren’t what they wanted. So, now we are in the dollar section playing eenie meenie minie mo to decide on lesser prizes. Then last minute my one girl came to her senses and realized she really wanted that little puppy dog. So, we put her junky prize back and she clutched her little prize with deep affection.

My kids were just so overwhelmed by picking just ONE thing. They are so deeply emotional with their purchases that selecting just the one BEST thing makes them over think with worry they’ll make the wrong choice. I remember having moments like that as a kid. And the parenting instinct is to just rush them through. Tell them they get one thing, or nothing; or we say chose or I’ll chose for you. But there is a greater lesson to be learned. They need to learn how to make a decision, and I need to learn patience with their process. I am a pretty quick decision maker. I know what I want and I get it. If I am torn I walk away and think about it before coming back. But my kids are super smart and they want to know exactly why they can’t have both before they can move on and settle for just the one thing.

As my daughter stood on the verge of tears choosing between two small toys I decided to meet her where she was instead of powering her through this. I explained to her the benefits and consequences of her choices. I gave her a moment to process and offered a solution to come back for the other prize later.

After walking back and forth in each department for what felt like forever, she finally made a decision. She chose a stationary set in a cute matching pouch. Then she happily ran it through the scanner at the check out line. She opened it in the car and was so excited by what was inside. She was happy with her choice. And I was happy this didn’t end with me carrying a screaming child through the parking lot.

I can hear the other parents saying, “I’d never let my kid get away with that.” “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” “I would never have taken that long to help my kid decide on a toy.” Well, thankfully she isn’t your kid she is mine, and I’m the one that has to live with her. I’m the one that needs to teach her these lessons of letting go and understanding how the world works. It isn’t up to anyone else to decide the teaching method.

In a perfect world I would have parked the car ran into the store for my two little items and left in under 5 minutes. In the not so perfect world there is usually tears and tantrums. This time though I am proud of all of us for keeping it together. But most of all I am really proud of me. Leaving behind that agenda for perfection, and making good time to get in and out of the store as my sole mission, left room for the bigger mission of being there for my kid emotionally. That’s what she’ll remember more.

Note: Some kids are more sensitive than others. Being a sensitive kid doesn’t make them spoiled or cause them to misbehave. They just require an extraordinary amount of patience and empathy. Unless you know a child personally please don’t assume to know them. Or that you could do a better job raising them. 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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46 Comments on The Challenge of Parenting A Sensitive Child in The Toy Aisle

  1. My youngest is sensitive like that. I have learned to love that about him, but it required QUITE A BIT of patience on my part to get to this point.

  2. I think you did well. You let your child make the decision, which is an important skill for adulthood one day. Yes, sometimes my kid throws a fit b/c I say she can’t get new toys when we are out, but If I agreed to let her get one I will be patient letting her decide on one.

    • My kids are usually pretty good when I say, “not today.” But when faced with more than one choice they get overwhelmed by making the wrong choice. There are no wrong choices with toys!lol

  3. I love this! This is so true! My oldest is very sensitive. He cries a lot and is very emotional. When we shop he cries at times making sure he picks the right item with his money or gift card. I give him extra love and attention and tell him it’s ok. That he won’t be very emotional as he gets older and cry. He will be able to express it differently.

  4. haha – the “longest day of your life” cracks me up. I think that happens to me at Target, so we shouldnt go shopping together there. I take quite a while in the dollar section, so I get your kids serious mindfulness in choosing the final toy!

  5. Target can be so daunting with kids! That dollar section is just too tempting for them to resist. I LOVE how you say that you’re the one to deal with your kid so no one else needs to worry about it. We all pick our battles and teach our kids what they need to know when they are able to handle it. Great job Mama!

    • Thanks! I completely get people have their own opinions and ways of doing things. But to assert them onto another parent is really not necessary. I’ve been on both ends of that.

  6. Children and their toy aisles! I remember toys r us was like a field trip haha. When other parents say they would do something different, they wouldn’t. They just like to think they would haha. Parenting is messy. Thats the joy of it all 😉

  7. Sometimes it makes more sense to remain calm and be patient than to escalate the situation. Helping your child make a decision is good practice for the future, when hopefully they will spend the process up.

  8. HAhaha, longest day of your life is so funny. I mean I feel you because shopping can take up to almost the whole day when with the family.

  9. Oh wow I’m not a mum so this has never even crossed my mind. It must be a task to learn how to deal with problems like this x

  10. This is so hard for me. I have a really sensitive little 4 year old and we’ve had a lot of tantrums in toy aisles before.

  11. I don’t care what other parents say, I like how you handled it and what you did. Them being emotional in choosing just means that they will value the toy more.

  12. I love that you let them choose and gave them time. I wouldn’t want to rush anything like that and I never have. It’s not just a toy to the kids, it’s something that they’ll be using and spending time on.

  13. I have a couple of very sensitive children. It can be hard at times. I think you handled it just well, and love that mine don’t really give issues when we are out.. We do try to avoid toy aisles!

  14. I have to say that I don’t see anything wrong with the way you handle your children. I think everyone considers there child special, but everyone is entitled to raise their kids the way they want too, as long as they are not abusing them. So, to those who would condemn you for the way you handled the situation, I say to heck with ’em. They are your kids, not theirs.

  15. Omg this reminds me of my brother when I was a kid! He was definitely super sensitive. At first I just thought it was because he was the youngest and being a “baby”, but when my sister came along years later, he was still sensitive lol… it was just how he was

    • Some people are hardwired differently right? I’m sensitive to other’s but not so sensitive I melt down over socks. lol Some days it’s hard to understand that kind of sensitivity.

  16. Oh my! I feel like maybe you’ve been following us around lately. My sensitive three year old goes crazy when we are in the store. Toys, candy, anything squishy, blind bags…… it’s overwhelming! This is such a helpful piece

  17. I’m not a parent but I am a teacher and realise how sensitive children can be. I think you handled the situation well and will prepare your daughter for later life. It’s not easy being a parent!

  18. I’m that mom too. Sometimes we simply don’t have the time but remember that every outing is a learning experience for your children. That whole “you get what you get” approach teaches them, in my opinion, to be quiet and not stand up for what they really want. Great job mama!

  19. I don’t personally have a child with sensitivity issues but my friend does. This would be so helpful and reassuring to her.

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