Your 7 1/4-year-old: Running errands

Your 7 1/4-year-old: Running errands

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Your 7-year-old now

What's the trick to getting through errands peacefully and without breaking anything if you have an antsy child in tow? Play off your child's developmental abilities.

Explain the plan before you head out. Sevens like to know what to expect. Try to stick as closely to the plan as you can.

Plan wisely. Tired, hungry 7-year-olds are much like tired, hungry toddlers. Keep your expectations realistic. You may only be able to get through one critical errand on a given outing, not three or four.

Rather than telling him what he's not allowed to do, explain what he can do: Keep your hands on the shopping cart. Use an inside voice. Stay where I can see you. Hold my hand in the parking lot.

Keep him busy. Maybe he can search for a product for you or carry the list. Ask him to count how many of something he sees. Engage with him — don't ignore him and chat on your cell.

Reward good behavior. Praise and attention count just as much as tangible rewards. Let your child know that when he's misbehaving, you can't talk to him, but you will when he quits the annoying behavior (whining, for example). Promise to spend some playtime together after the errand if he does really well.

Your life now

Do you know how to accept a compliment gracefully? You're not alone if your knee-jerk response is to grimace or protest. But doing so sets a bad example for your child and sends the message that you don't really deserve the praise. Don't be surprised if your child then reacts the same way when you compliment something he's done. Better to smile and say thanks, I appreciate it.

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