|The rally point is the bread aisle. Meet me there, soldier. Papa Bear out.|
Our five-year old son got a set of walkie talkies for Christmas this year. One of the things I do with him to let him get a bit more freedom and independence is that when I go to the grocery store with him (we're Publix people) I usually tell him to go get an item and then meet me at somewhere else.
For instance, I'll say "I'm going to the vegetables. Go get one carton of yogurt and meet me there." He'll then go get the yogurt, find me in the vegetable section, and I'll send him on another mission.
This has a couple of benefits:
1. First and foremost, it's giving him a bit of independence, where parents aren't hovering over him all the time. Boys need that. He knows I expect him to act politely in the store, and he acts accordingly because he feels "grown up" getting "missions" to get specific items. I've actually seen him (when he didn't know I was looking) politely ask a lady to get some hamburger buns from a shelf that was too high for him to reach. He asked nicely and said "thank you" when she handed them to him, then he calmly walked off down the aisle like he owned the place.
2. It keeps him from getting bored in the grocery store just following me around, which inevitably leads to him asking for things to put in the basket. He gets so into obtaining whatever I assign him, he doesn't even stop to think about getting cookies or whatever.
3. It saves me time in the store. I get in and out faster since I have someone getting me things.
I know that some people worry that you shouldn't let you kids get out of your sight, but you've got to give little boys a little rope. Also, Publix is a really controlled environment. Heck, half the people in the store are my neighbors who know us. My wife and I have a joke that you can't go to Publix looking like a slob because you'll invariably see someone you know. It's not like I'm taking him to the State Fair and setting him loose.
Why do I bring this up? I think I might get the walkie talkies involved just for fun.