Skip to main content

ASK MOM: Mom annoyed by battle in grocery checkout

Mar 01, 2024 02:00AM ● By Mary Follin and Erika Guerrero

Drawing by Suzanne Johnson

THE PROBLEM: My 6-year old won't stop asking me for things, and when I say ‘no,’ it always turns into a battle. The checkout lane at the grocery store is the worst. She starts begging for candy as soon as we get in line, then pouts and whines the whole time I’m checking out.  I keep finding myself grabbing candy out of her hand and slamming it back on the shelf. I get so ANGRY she won’t take no for an answer. It’s not limited to stores, either. She always wants her way, then argues with me when I won’t let her have it. How can I get her to listen to what I say?

MARY SAYS: It sounds like you and your daughter are locked in a battle of wills, and neither of you knows how to get out. Believe it or not, this one’s easy! Rather than thinking about how annoying it is that your daughter keeps asking, notice the pattern instead:

Her: Can I have a KitKat?

You: No. 

Her: Pleeeaaaase!

You: No. I told you to stop asking me for candy!

Her: Just ONE! 

You: No!

Her: You NEVER let me have any!

You: How many times have I told you to stop asking?

And of course, by now you’re both in bad moods! 

Take a close look at the dance you're orchestrating between the two of you. Each of you feels justified in your position and angry that neither of you sees it from the other’s perspective.

Why not take away one of the ‘sides’? Let this be a one-sided argument between your daughter and herself. Here’s how that would go:

Her: Can I have a KitKat?

You: What did I tell you last time?

Her: You said no! You always say no! 


Her: Can’t I have one? Pleeeeaaase?

You: What do you think?

Her: Yes! I can have one! Right?

You: What do you think? 

Her: I think I should have one.


Her: Pleeeaaassse!

You: (Pick up a magazine from the rack and let her continue on her own.)

In summary, respond to your daughter with a question for her to contemplate—and answer herself—or total silence. If you have been very clear about the ground rules, she already knows the answer to her request. (HINT: Be clear about the ground rules!)

Essentially, you’re bouncing your daughter’s entreaties back to her, so you can recuse yourself from the discussion. Using this technique not only lets you off the hook, it has the added benefit of teaching your daughter how to be introspective and take responsibility for her own actions. Ideally, by the time she's ready to leave the nest, she'll be looking inward to make choices for herself rather than engaging you. The ability to do this must be taught, and now is a good time to start. 

Erika is out on maternity leave. 

ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising a small child (Erika). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in! 

If you have a question for Mary and Erika, we’d love to hear from you! [email protected]

Read more ASK MOM advice.


Mary Follin is the author of Teach Your Child to Read™ and ETHYR, winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award and the Gertrude Warner Book Award. She is mom to two grown sons and enjoys sharing her more seasoned perspective  with parents of younger children. 

Erika Guerrero is a freelance hair and makeup artist, Erika K. Beauty, single-mama to one amazing boy, and author of She’s Not Shaken, a blog offering hope and encouragement to women in all walks of life.



Suzanne Johnson, mother of five children and grandmother of eight, is an illustrator, book cover designer, and author of the Realms of Edenocht series.

Get Our Newsletters
* indicates required
FredParent eletters
Read Our Digital Issue
From Our Partners