John Lewis tantrum toddler: Was store right?

Katie Kirby illustration Image copyright Katie Kirby
Image caption Blogger and illustrator Katie Kirby said she avoids taking her children shopping where possible

A woman has said she was made to feel like a "rubbish mum" after she was thrown out of John Lewis because her 16-month-old daughter had a tantrum. The Trafford Centre store has since apologised, but was it right or wrong to ask her to leave?

As you look down at your screaming, red-faced child, the last thing you are probably thinking about is whether you are upsetting your fellow shoppers.

Yet this is presumably what was going through the mind of one "over-zealous" member of staff at the John Lewis store in the Trafford Centre when they asked mum Lindsay Robinson to leave the shop after "receiving a complaint".

The 36-year-old told the Manchester Evening News her 16-month-old daughter was making her discontent loudly known when an employee from menswear approached her and said: "You will have to leave".

The store has since apologised and said the member of staff was "out of order", but not before the story provoked national debate. BBC News spoke to parenting bloggers and experts to get the view from the parenting trenches.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Three Day Nanny Kathryn Mewes said the best way to deal with a tantrum is to take it somewhere private

Emma Conway, author of the blog Brummymummyof2, celebrates the stroppiest of toddlers with 'Wicked Wednesdays' - a post dedicated to photos of her followers' children in the midst of DefCon-level meltdowns.

She said the store's decision was "completely wrong" and hoped the chain wasn't "too posh for tantrums".

Image copyright Emma Conway
Image caption Blogger Emma Conway said there is no predicting when a tantrum might occur

"John Lewis is a bit more subdued so perhaps it was highlighted more than say in Asda, where it's bigger and you might not notice," she said.

"But the store should have been a bit kinder. As a mother of a small human, if I was asked to leave a nice store I would be mortified.

"My children have had tantrums everywhere. They're natural and you can't predict when they're going to happen."

Why do toddlers have tantrums?

Comedian Sam Avery said he would be furious if he found himself in a similar situation.

'Terrible parent'

"There's nothing more annoying than a child screaming," said the father of twin boys.

"But the subtext is them saying: "You're a terrible parent, please go and be a terrible parent in the street away from our expensive goods.

"If your kids are having a tantrum it's the hardest part of your week or even your month, so if someone stepped in and asked me to leave I would throw a tantrum myself."

Image caption Lindsay Robinson was shopping at the Trafford Centre store on Saturday when she was asked to leave

Kathryn Mewes, star of Channel 4's parenting programme The Three Day Nanny, said parents are powerless to stop children having a tantrum and the best way to handle it is to go somewhere private.

"Personally, if I was running a business and a child was having a tantrum, I would quietly get them to another area," she said.

"I believe the lady needed to leave the shop, or at least the floor, and find a quiet corner to allow her child to vent her anger and calm down, then continue shopping.

"The member of staff didn't say 'leave John Lewis and never return', but it was insensitive. Had they used different language, it would have gone down a lot better."

Image copyright Katie Kirby
Image caption Ms Kirby said children find activities like shopping boring

Katie Kirby, author of the parenting blog, Hurrah for Gin, said she was shocked by the shop's reaction and put it down to an "over-zealous" member of staff.

But the mum-of-two said her tactic is to avoid the combination of children and shopping altogether where possible.

"If I was just browsing, I would have left," she said of Ms Robinson's situation. "But if you're in the middle of shopping, you can't just leave and you can't let children dictate your life.

"I don't take my children shopping, if I can avoid it I will, because kids don't like doing boring stuff."

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