A Few Tips on Handling “Neglectful” Parents & “Misbehaving” Children in your Store

I was in H&M at Baybrook Mall sifting through the children’s racks for an entire wardrobe for my stepson’s visit last summer.  In my hip I had my daughter, and to my side stood my four year old step son.  I was not finding the selection I normally did and as I took a moment to look at a tag of a shirt I would settle on a voice came over the sea of racks, “Watch your kid lady, he’s tearing up the store!”

I looked and in that short time my stepson had made his way to pilfer through the rack that was adjacent to the one I was at.  I looked at him shopping, and then at her in a questionable manner, “He’s going to pull that whole thing down on himself!!”  I looked again at my step son who was still only looking just the way I did on the rack, but I called him over to me anyway.

Having been in retail I understand there are some parents who don’t watch their kids, and I get that.  But to treat me like I’m a neglectful mom just because a four year old wandered a foot from me in the short time it took me to look at a price tag is ridiculous.  The woman remained in the section, arms crossed watching me, as if he had just been running wild, swinging from the bars, and throwing the clothes on the ground for the past twenty minutes.  I left, no purchase made.

Not long ago myself, my two year old daughter, and my husband (in that ordered) piled as quickly as we could into our local Hot Topic at Parkway Place Mall to look at cartridge jewelry.  The store was so skinny that we walked in a single file line, meaning my daughter followed me on foot but was in front of her father.  Although we were both not a foot away from her the employee hollered over the punk rock, “What parents just let their kid randomly wander into the store unaccompanied?”   My husband looked up at the girl with her jet black braids, purple lipstick, and facial piercings just hanging out flirting behind the counter with a disgruntled look as he picked up our daughter, turned around, and walked out.  He was actually embarrassed, but he shouldn’t have been, the associate should have been more aware of her customers, actually greeting and reaching out; not just shouting out rude observations without even stepping away from her register.

Please Retailers:

  • Don’t assume all parent’s are bad parents.  Instead give a margin of error for tiny snafus that happen and don’t cause you harm.  (particularly in a children’s dept.)
  • There is a kind way to speak and there is an accusatory way to speak.  Don’t come right out the gates ready for a fight, try kindness first, after all I’m bringing you my money.
  • Take note that children are not perfect robots no matter what level of discipline we as parents offer, they all have a mind of their own.  Do not judge me on the days my child decides to be an asshole, thanks.
  • No, I will not give you the satisfaction of watching the punishment of my child, this is a matter that is private and should be handled that way.  Just because you didn’t see the act of discipline does not mean it did not happen.
  • Feel free to talk to my child in a kind voice if you notice he has strayed or is messing with a display, “Hey buddy!  Where’s mommy?”  Or “Hey little man, be gentle.”
  • Keep in mind, children are future customers, particularly those ones that you really hate, the ones that are just dropped off at the mall unaccompanied at 12.

I’m not asking you to ogle my child, in fact I don’t even care if you give him the time of day.  I’m just asking that retailers take a moment to consider:

  1. Children are not all out to intentionally destroy your store (they are still learning [testing] limits, kindly help them).
  2. Not all parents are in there to use you as a babysitter (on that note I don’t want you or trust you to watch my child).
  3. Not all parents are incompetent (why not try seeing the good intentions first, and then over time allow the parent to prove you wrong rather than the other way around).

8 thoughts on “A Few Tips on Handling “Neglectful” Parents & “Misbehaving” Children in your Store

  1. I feel angry just reading this. I never used to complain to managers, but now I always do. I don’t want parents to have the same experience I have, so I contact someone and tell them my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you about the ALL in each of your points, especially related to the children. The children are genuinely only trying to be children. Generally.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My son threw a hissy fit at a ski shop some twenty years ago. He totally freaked out and was banging on the windows of the store (the store was going out of business). I was so embarrassed but there were really good deals at the store. He was three years old I think. I marched him to the car and put him in his car seat. (I know bad mom because I went back inside the store) I could see him from inside the store. HE GOT OUT of his car seat, OUT OF THE CAR and came back into the store, laid on the floor and commenced screaming his head off. Ahhhh…. I’m so glad those days are over. He actually grew up to be a fine young man… I feel bad for the mom’s and dad’s that have to go through that stuff, because everyone can tell you you aren’t doing it right. It sure is a whole new ball game!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed this, I think we forget that parents and children are human and imperfect, and when is it ever appropriate to be rude? It would be one thing if they were genuinely concerned and were kind like you mentioned, it’s unfortunate how we can jump to harsh criticism. Although, I think criticism such as this is more of a reflection on them than on the person they’re criticizing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know I held my own criticism’s before I had kids, so I can’t completely fault them (aside from the rude remarks that’s just unnecessary). I was the expert because I had a degree in children, I had raised my two brothers, and I had worked for years in a nursery and day care. It’s a whole other ball game when you have your own…there is just no other way to explain it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can imagine! I don’t have kids, but I was one and I know how scary/shaming it can be when an adult [any adult] treats you like you’re bad or doing something wrong. Also, parents are human, and they get stressed out and overwhelmed like everybody else, they deserve as much patience and they’re trying to give their kids [provided they are at least attempting to be good parents].


  5. My daughter blew up in Dillards one time when she was maybe two. Hid under the clothes and screamed the whole time. The level of embarrassment I had was dreaming I was walking into church naked bad. I was mortified! Good post for retailers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gah I wrote this post a while back, but my two year old just through the biggest & loudest (and my daughter is a high pitched screamer) tantrum ever in the middle of Hobby Lobby with a full basket as she was upset I had stopped her from leaping out of the basket.
      After about a good three to five minutes….that felt like eternity I eased her with a roll of deco mesh to hug. lol! Here shiny and soft be distracted and comforted and hush!

      Liked by 1 person

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