We're talking about grocery shopping over at Wise Bread, and I thought the same subject would be good discussion fodder for Parenting Squad. How do you get the shopping done with kids in tow?

Personally, I give each and every one of you permission to shop without your kids, if that works for you. I rarely take mine along. I would rather get in and out quickly, and avoid negotiations over treat items. However, when my son was a toddler and a preschooler, I pretty much had to take him with me. He was just always there, you know? It's like he didn't have his own life or something. Grocery shopping could really be a trial with a fussy kid, until I tried a technique from the Dr. Phil show.

Don't laugh! Dr. Phil knows some stuff. Here's the advice as I remember it, and it's very simple. Go to the store prepared to leave immediately if your child acts up. That means leave your completely full grocery cart just sitting there and take the child out of the store for as long as it takes to get him/her under control. Or even take him home and come back another day.

You have to plan plenty of time to pull this off. Don't do it on a day when you absolutely have to get five errands done, or when you are all out of food and cannot have dinner without getting food. You want to set yourself up for success. Have a backup plan, such as having your spouse pick up the groceries if you have to extract your child.

Go to the store with your list, and shop calmly, as normal. When your child begins asking for this or that, or fusses to be let out of the cart, runs amok, or acts up in any way, tell her firmly that if she does not behave, you will take her home (or out to the car) right away. Then, when she misbehaves, follow through. Abandon the cart in the aisle (it's nice if you don't have any frozen or perishable foods for this stunt, to make it easier on the employees), pick your child up, and leave the store. Give her a time-out in the car, or take her home, whatever mode of discipline you think will work best. For some reason, leaving the store without getting anything seems to be a very powerful punishment for a kid. Or perhaps it's just a signal that Mom or Dad is Serious in a way that she has rarely seen you.

If your child doesn't misbehave, that's great, but if she has a record of acting up in the grocery store, you'll want to make sure she experiences the Ultimate Consequence at least once or twice, so plan your trips accordingly. Once you get past that battle, you should be able to shop in relative peace, and other shoppers and store employees will admire your well behaved tot. (And this will make up for the fact that you once left a bunch of groceries for them to restock.)

I did do this with my son. Once. After that, we had no problems. Your mileage may vary.