'It's magical': Christmas parenting hack puts an end to shopping centre meltdowns

Emerson with just two of her many selections for Christmas. Photo: Kristina Watts
Emerson with just two of her many selections for Christmas. Photo: Kristina Watts 

As anyone with children knows, going to the shops at Christmas time can be particularly fraught. Already amped up by the promise of a visit from the big man in red, kids grab at everything and anything as though they will perish without it.

Exhausted parents say firmly, "No, not today. We'll put it on the Christmas list." 

Cue the jutted bottom lip, whining, dragging of small feet and full-blown tantrums. Just what you need. At Christmas time. In a crowded shop, with already frayed nerves.

One savvy parent, however, has put these trying festive season situations to good use, not only expanding on the "We'll put it on the list" hack, but using it for gift suggestions for the wider family.

The real genius lies in its complete ability to neutralise challenging behaviour... in a split second. Here's how US mum Kristina Watts gets on with her shopping, even with daughter Emerson in tow.

"Our trips to the store used to be a lot more painful this time of year. Toys are out in full force...and of course my kids WANT IT ALL," she writes in a Facebook post.

Yep, we can relate.

"Obviously I would love to have sweet, well mannered, non-greedy, chill kids, that don't ask for all the things... but I don't. So drop your judgement Karen, and stop reading if you have kids like that." 

Fair call. Now here's the hack.

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"Now... if you have kids like mine...that want the shiny amazing things that fill Target, the grocery store, Office Depot, the gas station, and pretty much everywhere you go this time of year, this is for you.

What is it?! Take a picture. It's that simple."

That's it? Yes, that's it. Here's what to say.

"Pause for a second, comment on the thing they're pointing out, and say, 'Let's take a picture with it and send it to Santa so he knows you want it!'"

She then advises sending the picture off to family so they can indulge her whims at Christmas.

Now here is Emerson's reaction.

"Magically, Emmie smiles, says cheese, asks to see the picture, then PUTS THE TOY DOWN AND WALKS AWAY.  It's magical. No tears. No tantrums (by either of us). And she forgets about all of them within minutes," she explains.

Kristina signs off acknowledging that maybe she's not the first to have thought of it.

"Maybe you've been doing this for ages, and you selfishly didn't share this tip with me... or maybe you're like me and this is about to rock your world. For real, try it friends. You're welcome."

The post is accompanied by a series of absolutely adorable photos of her daughter, beaming alongside her festive gift choices, which no doubt mean the world to her in that fleeting moment.

It has been shared more than 45,000 times and attracted nearly 14,000 comments from impressed people.

The post also sparked a sub thread about trolleys especially tailored for children and people with disabilities - apparently common in the US but few and far between in the UK and Australia.

Photo: Kristina Watts / Facebook

Photo: Kristina Watts / Facebook