Badly behaved children in shops - what to do about them?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Confused2, Mar 20, 2016.

  1. Confused2 Registered Senior Member

    Here in the UK a shopkeeper had to apologise for asking some parents to remove their out-of-control child from the shop.
    I have very little experience of children and the little I have had has not been good.
    A while back I dealt with a child by going GRRRR at it - the child became hysterical and the parents assumed I'd slapped it. At the time slapping was borderline acceptable and the parents left and never darkened my door again (success). Now I suspect they would have called the police.
    So, how should shopkeepers deal with badly behaved children?
    My own thoughts head in the direction of straitjacket, gag, hood and possibly ECT.
    Locally ECT tends to strike when least expected so I don't see us offering it as therapy in the near future. Hooding works for birds but does it work for children? I'd like to try it but I'd hate to have to apologise if it didn't work and even more so if it did.
    Gag and straitjacket can't really fail - maybe pop the hood on as well to be on the safe side.
    Preparation is the secret of success. So when a parent says "We just can't control him." the superior shopkeeper should be in a position to offer a range of solutions that allow both the parent and others to shop in peace.
    Dr_Toad likes this.
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  3. Bells Staff Member

    You mean advocate child abuse because people want to be able "to shop in peace"?
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  5. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    I'd make up the best hypothetical scenario and try and gauge of what could be done in reality.

    Or, just skip the hypothesis altogether.
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  7. sweetpea Valued Senior Member

    Earplugs? Use the degradable type, otherwise, like the plastic bag (5p), you would have to charge for them. (Would that be 5p per ear??).
  8. zgmc Registered Senior Member

    Not sure why the shopkeeper is the one who was issuing the apologies. The parents should have been apologizing to the shopkeeper.
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Put up a sign saying: "Unleashed children will be given a free red sugar drink laced with caffeine."
    Really, most children in my area are fairly well behaved. I particularly enjoy watching young boys who shop with their mothers being serious, courteous and helpful.
    Sometimes infants cry, but that can't be helped.
    Sometimes very young (age 4-6) siblings run around chasing one another. In this case, as an independent customer, I usually step in front of one, so it collides with my legs and bounces off. Then I stagger, nearly fall over, clutch my shopping cart and gasp for air. The kid is unhurt but startled; the parent is aghast: Damien nearly killed a senior citizen! and reins in the kids.
    Once in a while, I see a toddler in a shopping cart snatch things off the shelves. That doesn't bother me: the inattentive parent will have to either pay for the items of give them up.

    Depends, too, on what kind of shop, how big, what damage can be done in the time people spend there.
    Tell me the specific behaviour and I'll recommend a solution.
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Yeah. You want to pick how you engage in your battles.
    If you engage the opponent at their level, you are implicitly condoning their behavior.
    If you stick with 'that behavior is unacceptable, please take this child away', you stay clean.

    Though it's rather less satisfying...
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    A unilateral 'please keep your child under control or take them away' should work fine.
    Worst that happens is that they get offended and leave.
  12. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    That's the most likely thing to happen, which would be the end of the problem. Let's hope so. But it's really not the worst that can happen. Some people are confrontational; some people are touchy; some people simply ignore you. If they've already let their kids run amok, their negative response to a challenge will only reinforce the child's bad behaviour.
    If the father says :"Make me." or the grandmother bursts into tears, or the mother says, "Stop it, MacDonald," and Mackie pretends not to hear her, you're standing there with no Plan B.
    Children can be entertaining, but they're by no means an unmixed blessing.

    Okay, so try that. ^^ It will probably work.
  13. Confused2 Registered Senior Member

    "You mean advocate child abuse because people want to be able "to shop in peace"?"

    In the UK we have specialist centres for 'dealing with' and educating children with 'behavioural problems'. I would be surprised if the staff at such a specialist centre had no training whatsoever, were paid at (or below) minimum wage and were contractually obliged to carry out a variety of unrelated tasks at the same time as dealing with a problem child.

    A shop is a 'place of work' - the nature of the work and the type of transaction that occurs in a shop isn't really very difficult to understand. The staff are human - confrontations about 'rights' leaves shopkeepers upset and often angry. The stuff you see in a shop doesn't appear by magic - it has to be unpacked and placed on the shelves - this normally happens when the shop is empty with the result that more work is done when the shop is empty than while watching Josephine 'just looking' for half an hour. Sometimes shopkeepers like to move things along a bit - "Can I help you?" - the reason for this is that there is usually work to be done, dinner to be eaten, coffee to be drunk and it can't happen until you and/or Josephine decide to move on.

    If Damien is truly uncontrollable he's going to go berserk while crossing a road and he won't last long. There is nothing I can do for Damien and I don't owe either him or his parents any favours. I regard dogs as a public nuisance and don't allow them in the shop. We are happy to bring goods to the door for Rover to inspect and possibly purchase. Once Damien has declared himself as a public nuisance I would be equally happy to serve either him or his parents at the door but I will not have Damien in the shop again. The parents (and Damien) have the option of apologising and, if they wish, attempting to convince me that they will cause no further problems.

    The OP relates only to bad behaviour - in cases of mental or physical handicap I regard it as appropriate to deal with the customer as I would like to be dealt with if our situations were reversed.

    I really don't think it is fair, ethical, moral or just for parents to attempt to thrust their burdens onto me.

  14. Bells Staff Member

    Unless the parent is expecting the shopkeeper or other shoppers to deal with their children, I don't exactly understand where you are going with this thread or subject, for that matter.

    And really, suggesting torturing children in the OP is hardly what I would consider "ethical".

    When children become unruly, the workers in the stores can and sometimes do approach the parent and ask them to keep their kids in check, especially if they are about to destroy the store's stock on the shelves. I've seen it happen in many stores and I have never once, in the entirety of my life, seen parents demand or expect that the shopkeepers deal with their children.

    Often, the shopkeepers will see if the parent is stressed out by what is going on and believe me, having a child throw a tantrum can be an embarrassing and stressful situation of the parents involved, and will try to make it easier for them. That is good customer service. People who respond like arseholes when something like that happens just makes the situation worse, the child and the parents get more stressed and they will lose customers for it.

    I still remember the mortifying moment my 3 month old son had the biggest vomit of his life while riding in a baby carrier strapped to my chest as I was out shopping.. The vomit had even stained down to the knees of my jeans. I was mortified and upset. My eldest was in a stroller, crying because he sensed how upset I was and I was desperately trying to put things back on the shelf and hangers so I could get out of the store and get home to get us cleaned up and changed. The shop assistants came to my aid, took me to the back of the store, helped me remove the baby from his carrier and provided me with damp paper towels and the like, helped me change the baby, entertained my eldest and literally provided assistance they were in no way required to provide, but they did it anyway. I was able to buy what I needed quickly as a result, and was forever thankful for their help on that horrid day and yes, I went back again and again and still shop there. Instead of asking me to leave because a) I was suddenly covered in baby vomit, b) both my kids were crying loudly .. They provided me with help. Good customer service.

    A shop is a place of work and sometimes in their line of work, they will be required to put up with kids who are unruly or badly behaved. That is a part of their job. How they respond is what will make or break the store. They can either respond with kindness to the parents and be understanding of their plight, or they can throw them out of the store and ban them from it again.. You can risk losing customers by treating the parents of unruly children like they are children themselves and believe me, word of mouth spreads. Other customers who may have children or know families with children will observe the reaction of the shop assistants in how they respond and they will think twice about ever visiting the store again with their children and the word will spread. I know, as a parent of two children, if I saw a shop assistant throwing out people because they kids acted badly or became unruly (which children often do), I wouldn't go back there. Because kids behaving badly happens to every parent at one time or another. In other words, if you humiliate the parents by throwing them out of the store and banning their kids (and also by the connection, the parents) from the store in the future, you will lose customers. Without a doubt. And then the shop assistant will have no work.

    If children start breaking stuff, a quiet word to the parents would suffice. Have a sign up saying 'if you break it, you buy it' prominently displayed in the store to cover any stock loss. There are various options that a shop keeper can utilise to protect it's stock from badly behaved children without losing customers. Throwing them out of the store and humiliating them in the process will result in loss of customers.
  15. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    When I worked in a craft boutique, we often had parents or grandparents with children, sometimes quite young ones. We used to be terrified when we saw one coming. But then, a strange thing happened. The children behaved well. They were often told (by their adult) to clasp their hands behind their back, or keep hands in pockets, or just "Look, don't touch." And they nearly all did! The rowdiest kids we ever had in there belonged to a friend of the owner.
    You know, sometimes you can just talk to kids. They're human.
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    That is more common than many parents seem to think. And not altogether unreasonable - it does take a village to raise a child, and that puts some demands on the villagers; this is called "life".
    Uh, no. Most people, and especially the great majority of parents with children (whom I have always found to be more pleasant and easier than average to deal with, rather than less) are just fine even when rowdy. But there is a small minority of parents who are almost impossible to deal even civilly, let alone pleasantly. My own experience is in entering people's homes to do work, which is even touchier in dealing with children, and it's usually cheerful and pleasant and no trouble (the reverse, enjoyable, if anything) but I have had to deal with children who were not only being allowed to handle my tools and gear but behave in ways that put them at serious risk of injury, and parents who reacted to even an allusion to curbing them with every appearance of genuine hostility.

    (Sample: "Ok, got to clear the stairs for a minute" - pleasant tone of voice, take my word - receives "They just want to watch, they won't be in your way" or even "You'll just have to wait - this is their house")

    I took it up as a job skill. My own tactic, learned over time, is to deal directly with the child or children and - rather than forbid or object to whatever they're doing - tell them what else I want them to do, specifically. (Not ask, which offers options and opens negotiation, but tell, politely but firmly). So it's not "Clear the stairs" or "stay off of the stairs" but something like "Ok, you go sit on the couch for a minute." Or "all kids go sit on the couch", if there's a crowd, but looking at them when addressing them. If possible give them a job that contributes or seems to, like "hang on to these for me, will you".

    It doesn't always work, but it's the best I've come up with. What I try not to do is let the situation build, not say anything until some critical moment has arrived and I'm already irritated. That will show in my voice.

    And it doesn't work with dogs. You're stuck dealing with the owner - which will occasionally lead to something like "If that dog bites me one more time, I'm going to punt it like a football", and the owner can be all the mad he wants and the hell with him.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
    Confused2 likes this.
  17. Confused2 Registered Senior Member

    I think Jeeves made the best point with "It takes a village to raise a child.". I hope he won't object to the suggestion that he might be a very nice person. However this thread is as much about my right to be a grumpy old man as about false assumptions relating to what shop staff are or are not paid to put up.

    In the case of Hayley's vomit - I would hardly see that as a business opportunity - I'd want to see evidence of 18 vomit free years before allowing Hayley back in the shop. However I would have made sure mother and child were cleaned up - I wouldn't just have thrown them out into the snow.

    Grabbers, chuckers and snotters - is there any wonder that shopkeepers cringe when they see someone bringing a child into a shop?

    Lucy, she's got raspberry juice. They give her that to keep her quiet because she becomes hyperactive with it/without it. Daddy looks at things on the shelves. Lucy wants Daddy to look at her so she throws the mug thing on the floor. Daddy picks the mug up and gives it back to her. So far not much raspberry juice spread around. Daddy looks at the shelves again. Lucy starts to shake the mug thing. How much raspberry juice did she start off with? How much raspberry juice comes out under these circumstances? How far does it travel? Nobody can seriously suggest Daddy is going to pay for stock that Lucy has rasperried. Could be £1,000.

    I will try to remember "It takes a village to raise a child." and honour the obligation. Hopefully others will do the same.

  18. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


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    I see an application of common sense as essential in these circumstances.
    I also see that in many circumstances sometimes this new age political correctness, can be taken too far.
    In Sydney recently [I don't recall the details] a Mother/Father was reported for slapping his/her boy three times around the legs. He/she was consequently charged with assault.
    The Magistrate dismissed the case out of hand.
    A shame sometimes common sense is just not that common!
  19. Confused2 Registered Senior Member

    Iceaura: "It takes a village to raise a child." -wrongly attributed to Jeeves - though think he might have said it. Nice one Iceaura
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not sure if you meant to imply this, but that's a proverb I was referencing - not an invention of mine.
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    I'm not that old! However, yes, a community with consistent values and expectations is extremely helpful in raising children. When what they experience at school, and what happens at home and what they see on television are all at odds, most kids will follow their peer group. You can't blame them: they'll spend the majority of their working and social lives among their contemporaries.

    As for shops - well, you have to put up with a certain amount of unpleasantness. Restaurants, too, and malls and parks and museums and wherever people insist on taking their more or less awful offspring.
    But you don't have to like it! And you certainly should feel free to warn the parent of any potential harm their child may pose.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
  22. Crcata Registered Senior Member

    Well, where I live if its your shop its more or less your rules.

    If you say its not your job to put up with thier children...then its not.

    How much you take is up to you, or your boss. Its not uncommon for shop keepers to usually give a verbal warning, and if met with hostility to completely remove the costumers. If they arent capable then they call the police and let them remove them.

    As it should be.
  23. Confused2 Registered Senior Member


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