Sweets in retailer check-out aisles …. and other ways we are outsourcing our parenting

This morning I was listening to Cape Talk – the KIENO KAMMIES show.  One of the topics being discussed was that retailers pack impulse purchasers like sweets in the check out aisles.



There was a fairly vigourous call-in exchange that followed.

The gist of it was that retailers are tempting our children with the sweets in the check out aisles.  We cannot control our children, or draw clear boundaries for behaviour and with this in mind we are going to start petitioning the retailers not to pack sweets in the check out aisles.

Various parents phoned in and there was quite a lot of support for the “get the sweets out of our checkout aisle” campaign.

There were discussions about obesity and bad dental hygiene, and pretty much the end of civilization as we know it.  I kept wondering, where are the parents in all of this.

The one guest explained that he had a three year old child (I may be incorrect about the age), and when he stands in the aisle to pay, his child wants a sweet, or all of the sweets.  And then proceeds to throw a tantrum.

He felt that onlookers would judge him as a bad parent.

Speaking about bad teeth yesterday, part of the reason we have bad teeth is to do with the amount of sugar we consume, because if you don’t brush regularly after eating sugary snacks, it sticks around, and may lead to tooth decay in the long run… This conversation also led us to those so-called “aisles of death” in the supermarkets where you are herded like cattle until you reach the till, and your path there is riddled with chocolates, candies and sugary drinks. It can be hell for many parents, if your children happen to be with you demanding chocolate, and it can also be hell on your waistline. It is a widely held belief that supermarkets have these aisles in order to help their bottom line, make more profits. One man who is trying to lobby supermarkets to ban the sweets queue is Phillip Brink, who is looking for more support for his Facebook campaign to end the purgatory of treat aisles many shoppers face.

I am not sure if he just gave his child a sweet, or explained to his child that “dad has already said no, and no means no” or whether he just gave up the ghost and gave Junior a whack because the situation had escalated.

I am not sure what the dad did.

I do know the dad decided that he had enough of his child misbehaving when it came to sweets.  In a retailers’ check out aisles.

And started a Facebook campaign to stop retailers filling their check out aisles with sweets and other baubles that make children lose their shit, and parents unable to control them.

Because Gd help us if we say no to our child — and our child disagrees.  I know!!!  I know!!! The scene that would cause, because I spend my days just saying yes to my children, no matter what they ask for, or for that matter how much of a scene they create.

Me – I live in fear of having to discipline or control my child.

I am a reasonable person.  Most of the time.  I will listen to most opinions and try to hear or see it from the other person’s point of view.

I have three children – all of them are alive, reasonably well adjusted with ages range from 12 – 5 years old.  I am not suggesting because I have three children that I am an expert on parenting.

I also own a car and a pool, and I know very little about either of those.  So possession does not instantly equal knowledge or skill, I do appreciate that.

I have had many trips to Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths, and many other stores where there are piles of tantalising distractions for my kids.

My kids ask for the sweets, sometimes they whine and every now and then one of them has a bit of a poes collapse.  The general shopping aisles are more of a gauntlet than the check out line.  By the time we have got to check out, I have already said NO to a variety of requests at least a dozen times.  But hey, whose counting?

I have never thought, not once, to blame the retailer for my kids behaviour, or for my kids making demands.  My son had one tantrum in Woolworths when he threw himself down on the floor – flat down – and proceeded to bang his fists and his feet as he bemoaned some injustice that had befallen him.  Granted he was about 18 months old.

Without making this a long story – the key here is he had one tantrum.  One and that is it.

My two girls have not had tantrums in stores, partly because we have passed the “he had one tantrum” story on to them.   I am hoping that by evolution and natural selection they have learnt why that is not a good route to go.  In our family.  Tantrums get your nothing, but time out, TV privileges begin revokes, and possibly only bread and water for dinner.

I say no – then I remind that I have said no and if they ask again, then there will be consequences.  And I follow through on the consequences, else they know that next time they can just keep pushing me, and nothing will ever happen.

What a concept!!  I did not realise we could out source parenting responsibilities to retailers.

Now that I do, it sure does open an entire avenue of responsibility I can park at other people’s doors.

I plan to start a campaign aimed at the radio stations to stop playing any songs that indicate that my girl child might be wear boots with fur and getting low, low, low ….

Shawty had them apple bottom jeans (jeans)
Boots with the fur (with the fur)
The whole club was looking at her
She hit the floor (she hit the floor)
Next thing you know
Shawty got low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low

Because clearly I am unable to control, teach or enlighten my girl child not to get low, low, low and then more low, low.

Definitely starting that campaign pronto.

When I have a few more moments I am also going to petition all the clothing stores not to stock any shorts that I would deem as shorty shorts.  Why?

Well I find them offensive for children.  I am unable to decide, enforce my decision, and not buy my girl child a pair of them when they ask for them  If my girl child throws a tantrum or ask more than three times, I just buy her one in each colour.

Because that solves the problem.

Listen, I could do all of that.  I could if I was daft and deranged and out of touch with reality.

Last time I checked I am a parent.

Last time I checked I am a parent who creates boundaries, parameters, rules and assists my child to learn to know what is appropriate, what is not not.  What they are allowed, what they aren’t and when all of that doesn’t work then to hear me say: “NO, because I said SO!”

Are we seriously becoming those people who cannot control our children?

Possibly because we have been so damn bad at instilling discipline, respect and our children have become our little princes and princesses who we can deny nothing.  Possibly.

As parents are we choosing to blame the environment or someone else, for our children’s behaviour?  Because if we are.  if we are, is this not a dangerous lesson in itself to teach our children.

We are telling our children that nothing is their responsibility – impulse control, being able to accept that you cannot have everything you want and learning that there are limits to everything.

By making a stand against retailers and asking them to put their sweets in another location, so that we as parents do not have to say no to our children, sort of sounds a lot, to me at any rate, that we are deciding that this parenting malarkey is just too damn difficult, and saying no to our Princes and Princesses is not something we wish to do.

Is that really where we are going as a society of responsible parenting?

Because if we are — then I suggest now, that we start to prepare ourselves for the next level which is an inability to teach, mould and guide our children through their lives.

If you cannot as a parent tell your children that they cannot have a sweet – and they accept that, then jeez louise we are in dire shit.



If you however disagree with my outlook – and feel comfortable handing over the responsibility of your child and what happens in stores, then pop along to Phillip Brink’s Facebook page.

Leave a comment


  1. Yes parents have to parent and say no, and kids have tantrums. We all choose to parent differently. I did not shop at Woolies or PnP alone with my child for a long time because of the sweet aisle. It is very difficult to explain to a one year old and sometimes even a three year old why No means No and exactly what you are punishing them for 2 hours down the line at home. The aisle is also too narrow to back out and leave once you are in there and your child is having a full on tantrum. Someone mentioned “stealing” and I have had my child take light bulbs even, because it looked like a sweet. I do not think trying to ban sweet aisles is a reflection for bad parenting, it is just a plea to make a sometimes harassed life easier. There will always be temptation but it is asking a bit much for an under five year old to be able to understand all your rules and follow them. Tantrums are not just bad behaviour, it is also a child who cannot express themselves or who is unable to understand. I did not listen the radio show, and I understand this is your blog and your opinion and you can write whatever you like.

  2. Katherine

     /  July 2, 2014

    Agree with you 100%.

  3. Oh you are right on the button 100% correct Celeste! We need to teach our children that no is no. It is our responsibility. There is a way bigger lesson in it than a few sweets. My SIL has a great way of describing todays teens – she says they suffer from a sense of entitlement. They feel they are entitled to everything. Maybe because their parents did not say no to sweets in the sweetie isles

  4. Awesome blogpost. i am able to say “No!” quite comfortably, afterall it’s the most oft used word in my vocabulary if you ask my kids. BUT the aisles are too narrow and as soon as my kid was young enough to sit upright in a shopping trolley, I advised the manager at my local Woolies that i wouldn’t be paying for any nicked purchases or where I didn’t see my kid help himself and to please note the conversation for future reference… it’s the narrow aisles that annoy me.

  5. Terry

     /  June 30, 2014

    Oh please! Its not like we didn’t have sweets in the check-out aisle when we were children. They were probably there when my mother was a child too. My mother and grandmother said ‘No’ (usually). So do I and so can the rest of the mothers of this generation.

  6. Right there with you. I say things like, “we’re here for xyz, not sweets.” The bunny’s happy with that. Well… she may not be happy but she doesn’t nag.

  7. I just tell mine that there’s no money for sweets…and she’s okay with that. End of story. Amen to all you said up here. I find the sweets in front of check out personally annoying, but not because I can’t say no to my child. If you had to ask her, she’d tell you I more or less say no to anything fun…which isn’t the case either in my opinion.

  8. Preach sister! It always irks me when people can’t say no to their children.

  9. Alexandra

     /  June 30, 2014

    So agree with you. I went one stop further and banned the word want when shopping with children.

  10. I read somewhere of a tactic which I plan on using – if my 7 year old threatens a meltdown. I will ask him is he has ever heard of the game ‘asked and answered’ – Already intrigued, he should be somewhat distracted from the tempatation at hand – and will answer ‘no’.
    Then I will explain that he has already asked and I have already answered and do I look like a mommy that will change from a no to a yes? Next time the situation preesents itself, I will mutter ‘ASKED AND ANSWERED, finish and klaaar’
    Agree with what u say Celeste!

  11. Actually I found I really cool toy for my two year old son at the check out at Dischem – it’s like a light sword that turns on and off. He loves it.
    I agree that we should be able to handle our kids – temptation is everywhere, not just at the check out.


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