Cultivate good behavior at the mall while teaching money mindfulness.

Cultivate good behavior at the mall while teaching money mindfulness.
Cultivate good behavior at the mall while teaching money mindfulness.

A mall experience at the V&A Waterfront to remember with 3 year old twins… Alone! 

The mall is not really my thing but sometimes, inevitably I find myself having to go there. We go to the city with my husband for work every month and when we do, I usually have a few days to kill… With. Toddlers. TWO toddlers. Ok now that I got that out of the way… 

We usually go to the Aquarium with friends which is an absolutely stunning experience but this time I decided to do it a bit different.

It was the twins’ 3rd birthday so they got some cash of which I promised to take them to buy whatever they want. The teacher in me wanted to make the experience educational so I decided to take them to the toy shop to choose what they want in an educational way. Did I mention alone? WITH two toddlers…? 

Mall, good behavior

Yeah well guess what, it was a mind blowing experience for me… When I give them my undivided attention, with no agenda of my own, like in nothing else than maybe having to go buy milk while I’m there (no more than 5 quick items of your own), they listen! 

They are good, almost the whole time! 

This made me realise how I’ve been doing it wrong all the time. You need to make effort to create good experiences at the mall at times when you are not in a rush, so that they are already used to behaving at the mall when you do have lots of important things to do.

This was not the average mall experience in which I am usually running after them, shouting at least twice (not proud of that), spinning in circles trying to remember what I still have to do, warning them I’ll never bring them again… 

No, with this one we had fun the whole day without any significant incidences! In fact the only difference is we went there for them. And of course like always I also explained to them how the whole day was going to work before we got out of the car.

Mall, good behavior

I was going to take them where ever they wanted to go as long as it was free or fit my budget. If they didn’t agree on something I would choose (that usually makes them agree on something quickly), they were allowed to touch toys they thought of buying softly but not allowed to take anything from the shelves unless I said they had enough money or helped them to look and they were allowed to choose what they wanted IF it was in their budget. 

Its amazing how much a three year old can understand and learn if you explain the itinerary beforehand. This is the secret to cultivating good behavior in future mall visits, giving them the opportunity to know how friendly you can be at the mall… If they listen and obey.

Mall, good behavior

Now about the budget. What a great exercise for money mindfulness. Teaching kids to work with money is so important because this is the one thing all human beings unfortunately have to learn at some time or another wether we want to or not. It can actually be a forming part of our character… If you make the wrong decisions early in life, it can carve the path for the rest of your life, possibly ending in disaster! Such a small thing can change their whole existence…

So this is how we did it. We went to the toy store after reviewing the mentioned rules and added a few:

  • We could put everything they wanted in the basket that they could afford (or something that they could afford putting their money together but then they had to share)
  • After we covered the whole store they had to choose one each out of the basket, or one big one to share and then we had to remember where we found everything else and go put it back. This is also a great exercise for memory and good to teach them to let go. They have to learn that they cant just buy anything, money has value.

Mall, good behavior


Making a choice was easy for my daughter. She’s really into small figurines at the moment so she chose Princess Sofia out of her stash. She loved that she had R20 left to buy something else, but at a stage when my son wanted to buy something he did not have enough for, she was willing to give him what she had left. What a great way to learn to share, or more importantly to give.
Mall, good behavior

During the experience we talked about quality VS quantity and how some things are cheaper but can break more easily and that some things are more expensive on the other hand only because of the name. At the end they could still choose what ever they wanted even if its the wrong choice in your eyes… VERY IMPORTANT.

They have to learn to make their choices and live with the consequences.

At the end of the day i was so surprised at what they chose! I would think of something i wanted them to have for quite some time, and they would simply not be interested. Sure if i brought it home without all the other choices they would have loved it, but around other similar choices amount wise, they simply werent that interested in what I had to offer. Instead they would choose things they already had somehing similar of, like yet another figurine. Although my daugter didnt have this specific one, she had many figurine type toys but she wanted yet another. Something she is really into right now and thats ok. This is what they came up with… the Play Doh horse and the Hamleys BigJigs train they wanted to share but eventually decided against it. I let them be even though I knew one of those would have been the better choice.

Mall, good behavior

I liked that they made decisions together and that they actually thought about it constructively! For my son, a choice did not come so easily though. He did like a few things as seen above, but at the end he didn’t really want to spend his money one either of it. It wasn’t that he couldn’t make up his mind, he definitely knew he did’t want to buy any of it and rejected everything else I came to offer, until he saw a Dinosaur DVD. THAT he chose instantly without further discussion even though I tried to sway his mind at the till!

I wish I could make decisions as easily as they do! 

Mall, good behavior

After an hour or two of choices they wanted to go watch a movie, but when we got there, there was nothing on for children (how did that happen?) and I was quite surprised to see that they were disappointed but since we were in a jolly fun mood with no recent incidences, they were ok with it.

I suggested that we go to McDonalds to grab lunch instead… I know I know please don’t stone my cyber presence to death, I’m not proud of it but I went past this one in V&A Waterfront, (Cape Town, South Africa) once and I saw this amazing interactive game called EyePlay. I decided to go there to give them some more undivided attention while playing our lungs out 🙂

When last have you played, as in really played non stop with your children? Sometimes you need to get away from distractions at home to be able to give them your undivided attention.  

EyePlay works with an overhead projector that projects the game on the floor and reacts when you step on the bugs, numbers etc. this is absolutely a stunning concept and excellent for developing spacial awareness, hand eye coordination etc. 

Every few minutes another game comes up so you never get bored… Only tired! But then you just go on and on ’cause its just so much darn fun!

Mall, good behavior

What a great way for children to get physically fit, especially kids focused on video gameplay. It was so much fun to do it with them and amazing to realise how much more fit they are than me. I nearly fell over and cried halfway through the games!!! The nice thing about that specific one at the Waterfront is that when it’s in the morning, it is very quiet there and you mostly have the place for yourself. Theres a table placed conveniently in front of the play place and if you are alone inside theres a corner away from the door where you can put your handbag so that it’s safe when you have to go between the table and the play place. It helps to know you can play your heart out without wanting to look out for your handbag.

Golden rules for mom in cultivating good behavior at the mall:

  • Lay down the rules before you get out of the car.
  • Give them undivided attention. I fthey ask you to look, look. If they ask you to help with this wrapper, help.
  • Don’t give them time to moan and they wont cultivate the habit.
  • Allow them to make their own choices
  • Most important thing of whole day, compliment them in the end on how good they were.
  • Don’t have your own agenda. If you need to do something, do it another day


Cuddle Fairy

Please help me to add on to this list by quoting… What do you do that helps to cultivate good behavior at the mall?

4 Responses »

  1. Some great advice there although this wouldn’t work with my son who has learning difficulties and limited understanding. It never ceases to amaze me though how much neurotypical three year olds are capable of taking on board. How sweet of your daughter to share her reaming money with her twin so that he had enough to buy what he wanted. That is precious and you are obviously doing a fantastic job teaching them the ways of the world 🙂


  2. I agree with everything you say here. My kids are really great shoppers now. We did a ten euro experiment with them where they each had 10euros to spend as they wanted. It’s great to see the value of money kick in for them. Your kiddies made great choices – sounds like a successful day out all around! Thanks so much for linking up with #bloggerclubuk

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