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Going Out With Your Child

Taking your child out provides a great opportunity for you and your child to get out and to help your child explore. As you likely know, it can also be a challenging time. Children can be curious, and when put in a new environment, they may want to see and touch the things around them. They may also begin to misbehave.

It is important for you to plan ahead when taking your child out. Planning will help you and your child to have a positive experience and help you to continue taking your child out. Plan for the car ride, and for the place where you are taking your child.

Children may act out or misbehave when going out with you because they are hungry or tired, they are not interested in what you are doing with them, or they are not getting what they want.

General tips for going out with your child

  • Do your best to keep your child’s routine for meal time and nap time
  • At first, keep trips short and frequent
  • Plan to go out at the time that is least busy
  • Explain to your child where you are going and how long it will be
  • Make sure you are rested and ready

Before heading out of the house

  • Pack snacks and toys according to the duration of your trip
  • If going grocery shopping, create a shopping list 
  • Show the list to your child and let them know they can help at the store

Getting there

  • Start with short car rides and gradually work your way to longer trips
  • Ensure that you follow all safety measures for the right car seat and/or booster seat when using a car
  • Decide on a few important ‘rules of travelling’ that you would like your child to follow, and explain the rules to your child (example - "you need to hold my hand when we cross the street")
  • During the outing, point out things that may interest them
  • If your child behaves well, praise them

Arriving and staying at your destination

  • Explain to your child what the rules are before heading in
  • Tell your child they may get a treat or reward if they follow the rules (example - reading a book together or a stop at the park). Avoid food rewards.
  • Decide on fair consequences for misbehavior, and tell your child what will happen if they do not follow the rules (be sure to follow through with what you have said)
  • If you are grocery shopping, involve your child (examples - have them pick out a fruit, put a food item into the cart, count or find colours and shapes)
  • If shopping for clothing items, involve your child (example - let them pick out the colour of the t-shirt they prefer)

How to manage shopping trips 

  • Continue to keep your child involved 
  • If your child is behaving and following the rules, praise them
  • If your child is not following the rules, stop what you are doing and act right away.  Calmly say what to stop doing and what to do instead. Praise your child if they do as you ask.
  • If your child does not settle, you may choose to end the trip and take them home
  • At the end of the trip tell them what they did well or remind them of the rules they did not follow
Date of creation: December 5, 2012
Last modified on: August 29, 2014


1Turner, K. M. T., Sanders, M. R,. Markie-Dadds, C. (1996). Triple P Tip Sheet Preschoolers: Going Shopping. Brisbane, AU: Triple Positive Parenting Program.
2Turner, K. M. T., Sanders, M. R,. Markie-Dadds, C. (1996). Triple P Tip Sheet Preschoolers: Travelling in the Car. Brisbane, AU: Triple Positive Parenting Program.
3Raising Children Network. (2011). Travel with children. Retrieved from