Building Resilience in Kids – Grocery Shopping

This is the season where everyone seems to be talking about Building Resilience in our kids. I am a big believer that one definite measure of success in a person is the person’s resilience. There are many issues in life that we can’t prevent: a by-passed promotion, a deal that didn’t go through, marriage that didn’t work out, a sickness that cripples, or even a car accident. But to survive these issues, one must have faith and resilience.

Resilience in kids can be nurtured and built. For our family, one of our favourite activities for this is Grocery Shopping! Yup, the mundane yet must-do task we all do. It is so much a part of our lives, that the kids have been on such shopping trips with us countless times!

That’s when I realized, why not let them have a go at Grocery Shopping? We can do up a simple shopping list, get the kids to follow the list, and ta-da!! And the husband and I get to have some coffee at the café while they are in the supermarket. Oh but wait, you say. What if they chose rotten tomatoes or expired milk? Or what if they chose brown onions instead of red ones?

Well, for us, this is the best time to train the kids in Details (looking at the list and follow closely) and to teach them some fundamentals about choosing groceries (like how to identify a expiry dates). To me, a few rotten tomatoes is a small price to pay when my kids learn how to be independent, and wrestle with the other adults in the supermarket.

So where does resilience come in?

One way to develop resilience is when one can adapt under stress. While we don’t put any stress on the kids to do grocery shopping, there is a natural stress that comes when they have to:

  • Finish getting all the items in the list
  • Find the correct items
  • Remember to tell me when Green Grapes are sold out, there’s only Red ones left
  • Go back to the aisle to get something cos they forgot when they walked past it earlier
  • Ensure they get the right brand and type for the family (e.g. there are at least 3 different variations of Soy Milk for each brand!)

Now, who says grocery shopping ain’t stressful?

But we let the kids have a go at it. And when there’s mistakes, we tell them why it’s wrong or how they can swap things around, or if it’s bought, the whole family just has to take that until depleted. For example, Nicole once bought Organic Broccoli which costs nearly double a normal Broccoli. Or when Nathan chose Fishballs with chilli instead of ordinary fishballs. Or when Nadine chose an ice cream flavor no one liked and we all had to finish it before we bought a new tub.

Through these experiences, the kids learnt that mistakes do happen. And there are consequences to mistakes, yet it’s not the end of the world. There are plenty of intangibles that the kids learn and pick up when they do grocery, and it’s part of growing up. (Just like, it’s ok for us to not have eggs for an entire week, cos some one missed that out when shopping!)

Do consider giving your kids a chance to grocery shop. Don’t worry about the kids being abducted. Choose a supermarket that you are familiar with, in a neighbourhood that you are comfortable with. If safety is a big issue, you can try to be the trolley pusher who doesn’t speak or comment, and let the kids decide where to go and what to get.

Some may ask, so when do we start? I did a quick search of my old social media posts, and found this post back in 2014. Nicole started grocery shopping for us when she was 9 years old. All we did was left her alone with Nathan, told her we would be back in 20 min to pay. And off she went!

Have fun and let me know how it went for your family!


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