Aussie parents the best at saying 'no'

Groceries Photo: Louie Douvis

Feel like you are entering a war zone every time you walk into a supermarket to do the weekly shop with your kids in tow? 

Well you could be right. New research shows parents have one "conflict" with their children every seven minutes and 42 seconds while shopping for groceries, with children asking for something to be put into the trolley an average of every three minutes.

But the University of South Australia research revealed Australian parents only give in to their children's requests 26 per cent of the time. This means we are much better at saying no than parents in America who say yes to their child's requests 97 per cent of the time, while in Austria children have a 52 per cent pester power success rate.

"Kids pestering can be quite stressful or even embarrassing for parents, who may be on a tight budget and are trying to get in and out of the supermarket quickly," Senior Research Associate Bill Page Page says.

"What we found though is that Australian parents give in a lot less than we expected. Certainly Aussie parents' levels of giving in are not anywhere near the levels seen in other countries."

Page recently finished collecting data over 12 days in four large supermarkets across Adelaide and Sydney. More than 1800 minutes of data was collected recording, with the family's permission, how parents and children interacted during grocery shopping trips.

In addition to learning how often parents said yes and no to requests, Page also found Australian children were better behaved than their US counterparts while shopping with mum and dad. Children here only asked to put something in the trolley an average of once every three minutes, whereas in the US requests were made every one minute and 15 seconds.

However family arguments while shopping are equally frequent in Australia and the US, with Page finding parents experience a "conflict" with their children every seven minutes and 42 seconds on average.

"Just over half the shoppers we studied didn't have any conflict at all with their children, but a few were constantly battling," Page says."Overall, though, it seems as though kids in our supermarkets are comparatively well behaved."


For those who think avoiding the lolly aisle and using the confectionery free checkout will give them a pester free supermarket visit, think again. Page says children were recorded asking their parents for all kinds of products, not just sweet treats.

"They requested fruits and vegetables too. We even heard one request for vinegar and one for toilet paper," he says. "It seems it's just a case of children wanting stuff, it doesn't necessarily matter what that stuff is."

So there you have it. Seems like the only way to a peaceful shopping trip is to leave the kids at home.