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I am in the gray area like you. Since temper tantrums have begun for us and my son is not yet two I feel like there isn't much to do because they say that until the are two it is all about security and they don't really understand.One thing I have done is to simply hold my son outside the store till he is calm and then put him in the cart with a kiss and a big smile. I find he forgets quickly about being upset once I just slow down and give him a minute and show him that I am clam and that whatever he is freaking out over is not a big deal.
But I did see something on a tv show the other day to help parents in ignoring the temper tantrums versus giving the child attention to stop it. They had a mom who made a little sign that she would hang on the cart or set on the floor next to the screaming child that said " Please Excuse or (Sorry For) the disturbance, temper tantrum in progress." I think this is great because usually the big struggle is the people around you watching the temper tantrum. This sign makes me laugh and lightens up the feeling in the air.
I think that temper tantrums are just as waring on the parent as they are on the child. There is a parenting "program" called Love and Logic, and I tend to use a lot of their tactics when faced with behavioral problems. One of the main concepts is to offer a child two choices, and they both have to be choices that work for you. So the choice around the shopping cart might be-"Do you want to ride in the seat facing me, or in the basket of the cart?", then start right away with another choice as soon as that one has been made, so "Where do you want to go first, cereal or fruit?", then you keep going. Kiddos get the effect of being able to make their own choices, and they are choices that work for you, so you meet your objective. If you start out with "Basket or seat" and get screaming "NO WALK!!!", then, without showing any emotion, you restate-"basket or seat?", I generally give them two chances, and the third time I choose for them. So, then if the child is screaming/tantruming form the cart seat-i agree with the previous poster, wait outside the store door and let him/her scream, assuring them that when he is quiet you will go inside-and make inside sounds like a GREAT place. There is much to this that is a huge learning curve, but it will come with time and talking.
Keep us posted on how things are going :)
I love the idea of a sign! Definitely going to try that one!