Children may sulk（生气，愠怒） and play up when being dragged round the shops by their parents, but retail therapy is actually good for their brains.
The interaction between child and parent while shopping helps young people develop social skills and promotes happiness - even if a bawling toddler shows few signs of it at the time.
According to the joint study by Oxford University and the Open University, shopping trips are just as beneficial for the child's development as painting or drawing activities.
They also found shopping is better for a child's social skills than watching TV or reading.
The two universities made these conclusions after studying the results of an economic survey in Germany.
This survey looked into the daily routines and habits of 800 parents with two and three-year-olds.
It recorded higher perceived levels of happiness among the children who had taken part in activities such as arts and crafts, and shopping.
Researchers Professor Paul Anand and Dr Laurence Roope added that the more retail therapy the toddlers were exposed to, the happier they seemed to be, and the more developed their everyday skills became.
Shopping may be beneficial because it involves changes of scenery from shop to shop, which improves the child's motor and social skills more than a sedentary（久坐的） activity, the report continued.
Reading and storytelling together ranked high for happiness, but being left to read on their own, or watch TV, had a 'negative impact' on the child's development.
Professor Anand from the Open University said that during shopping trips 'children are getting visual stimulation, they've getting out of the house and into a new environment.
'They're bumping into other families where social skills come into play and they may get the chance to do something physical in a shop like run around.'
The researchers now want to test their theories on older children to see what activities influence development among other age groups.
The research was presented at the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society.
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