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Is it Okay to Let Your Young Child Scan Groceries at the Self-Service Checkout and Hold Up a Busy Queue?

Shopping with children can be a challenge, especially those of the toddler variety. Aside from having to time outings with expert precision around their naps and snack-times, you also have to try to engage them in an age-appropriate way in whatever mundane task you are doing lest they become bored and start throwing a wobbly in public. Toddlers can be fickle creatures though. They either want you to do everything for them (usually when you are tired and want to sit down with a hot cuppa for five minutes), or they insist on doing everything themselves (generally when you are running late for an important appointment.) So, it is understandable that a toddler might want to help their parent to scan a few items of groceries at the supermarket self-service checkout, right? But what if the mum lets her little darling, slowly scan EVERY item despite a growing queue of other customers waiting to use the checkout?

Should other customers be patient and see it as a cute and educational moment for the child, or should the mother be more mindful of other people and take over scanning her groceries at a more acceptable speed?

One grocery store worker, faced with one such dilemma, decided to take matters into their own hands and approached a mother who was holding up the queue in a very busy store with her child.

I work at checkout at a grocery store and a young child and his mother came in today while I was on surveillance of the self-checkout station. Today was very busy and the line was MASSIVE. this mother proceeds to allow her child to begin scanning every item, as well as having him spell out the name of each item they were purchasing. I watched this for about 10 minutes hoping she would stop but it kept going. I approached them and told her that I would be more than happy to scan them all at a checkout counter with an employee at it so all these people could continue in line. Your child is the centre of YOUR universe. Not THE universe. Upon being told this she was extremely angry and stormed out. AITAH?

Whilst many fellow parents could understand the mum wanting to engage her child in the activity, the majority agreed that a busy store was not the time to indulge them.

NTA. A few select items sure. Interspersed amongst the adult scanning items and narrating at normal speed absolutely. Label and spell the items as you’re actively shopping items from the shelves works too bc others can go around you. The entire order, no. Play groceries at home, use a calculator, use pictures. (Happy_Flow826)


NTA. Too many people seem to be oblivious to the rest of the world happening all around them, and are totally okay with taking up all the space. It doesn’t hurt to remind them in a diplomatic way that other people are in the same space also trying to live their lives. (moniquecarl)


NTA. My kid likes to scan the items. She’s not allowed to do so if there’s anyone else in line because no one needs to wait for her 5year hand eye coordination to scan the items. (MrsMitchBitch)



Appropriate teaching moment when the store is empty — Mom allowing children to scan groceries and spell out items to look up.

Appropriate teaching moment when store is very busy — Mom telling child “No, you can’t do it this time because it’s rude to hold up the lines and make people wait. Let me hurry through this and you can do it when there’s nobody waiting.” (2_old_for_this_spit)


NTA. A busy grocery store is NOT the place for having your child hold up line-ups for playtime etc.

A few items, maybe, but more than that is rude and entitled, especially if there are long lineups. (GoetheundLotte)

One parent even recounted an embarrassing experience she’d had trying to use a self-checkout with her ‘helpful’ child.

I love my seven year old but he’s not allowed to help at self checkout because those cameras treat me like a convicted felon as it is. He “helped” me while I was busy bagging and I ended up needing someone to badge in and affirm I wasn’t trying to shoplift three times in one order. By the end I could have had an actual cash register in my cart and they’d have waved me through just to see the back of us. (Fermifighter)

However, whilst most people agreed that the mum was not being respectful of other people’s time and should not have allowed her child to hold up the queue for so long, some people thought that the retail worker’s delivery left much to be desired.

ESH. Obviously she’s in the wrong here, but you just had to go and add that little comment about her son not being the center of the universe, that’s rude as fuck, and added absolutely nothing to the conversation other than boosting your ego and pissing off a customer. (tophaang)



Only because u were rude about it. (Exportxxx)

One commenter had a whole different perspective on the situation entirely though, proclaiming that no one was in the wrong in this situation, and that they even admired the mother.

NAH. I’m sure I’ve been behind slower and less competent adults, and at many stores I get held up on self-checkout due to items not scanning or an error with reading the item’s weight. At least this hold up has some value. Hands on learning is great for kids and I am jealous of parents who don’t get stressed out by the stress of those around them. (hadmeatwoof)

What do you think? Who was in the wrong in this situation?

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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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