Mommy, I need to pee!

Is it LEGAL to deny a child a restroom when in a store???

That depends on who is denying the child. If you as the parent deny the child, then it is legal as your are responsible for the child. My youngest daughter has this thing about always going to the toilet in every restaurant or supermarket. Most times she doesn't really need to go, but it's like a comfort thing for her. Reassurance, that she knows where the toilet is should she need to go urgently.  It drives us crazy.  Often, we haven't even ordered yet and she's asking where the toilet is.  Go to a supermarket, and it's the same thing.  Of course, living in China, the toilets are often the Asian squatter type and very gross and smelly.  This has resulted in my youngest needing to know when we first arrive, if it's a squatter or a western toilet.

However, is it legal for a store to deny a child the use of their toilet? Hmmmm, I doubt that there is any legislation in this regard. I reckon that it is probably up to the store owner. If they are child-friendly, they'll allow it, but if they're not child-friendly, then they will keep a poker face even when your child is doing the 'I'm going to wet my pants any minute' dance. I don't think you'd be able to sue them if they refused your child. But, what you can do, is boycot them and publicize the fact that they are not child-friendly.

Personally, I think that all establishments that cater for consumers, be it a supermarket, corner grocery or a restaurant should have a toilet available for customers.  I'm currently on diuretics and when I need to go, I need to go!  And, I'm definitely not a child.  Deny me a restroom when I need to go, and I just might pee on your floor.  That'll teach 'em.

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Comments 17 comments

49er profile image

49er 8 years ago from USA

I agree that this would probably be a gray area in most cases, although most people are pretty friendly and don't mind helping out a child who needs to goto the bathroom.

MamaDragonfly2677 profile image

MamaDragonfly2677 8 years ago from New York

Thanks for answering my request!

My 6 year old daughter had a weak bladder (and keegal muscles) and every time we would go shopping, even if I just made her go, she has to use the restroom. In a few stores we normally go to, they let her a couple of times, but refuse use of their restrooms NOW. Even though I explained the problem to them, they did not give in, and she ended up having an accident. Not only was she embarrassed, but the store clerk got to clean a nice little mess. I agree that stores must follow policy, but a little girl? Come on...

Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 8 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Agreed - it is a grey area.

The problem is that many stores have a policy that do not allow the public to use the facilities. The reason is the fear of being sued - sadly, the litigation culture has a lot to answer for.

I used to work for Blockbuster, and faced the same situation - if I had let the little girl and her father use the toilet, I would have been sacked on the spot. It is a very tough call for staff.

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 8 years ago from Cape Town Author

At the moment, I am living in China and I have to say that they have this disgusting cultural thing of letting their babies and toddlers wear spli-bottom pants. Basically, they don't wear nappies/diapers, and even in the extreme cold the kids' bottoms are exposed. Whenever the kid needs to go, the just squat and do it through their split pants, or their parents hold them up over a gutter or bin and let them go in that. through the split in their pants of course! Now, the point I want to make is this. On a few occasions I have been in Walmart or Carrefour and one of these little kidlets have obviously needed to go. But, their families have been quite happy to let them sit in the supermarket trolley and just pee through the trolley onto the floor and leave the mess for the shop cleaners to mop up. I find this quite disgusting as other people don't see the puddle and often walk through it, or push their trolley through it. Is it just me, or is this unhygenic? These supermarkets do have restrooms available, but the parents are choosing not to use them. Surely, this should be illegal?

Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 8 years ago from Sparti, Greece

That is pretty vile - accidents happen, but there is no excuse for laziness. Sadly, it is a sign of the times - Somebody else's problem.

RVilleneuve profile image

RVilleneuve 8 years ago from Michigan

I have heard some talk of legislation on this issue due to conditions like colitis.

Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

Agreed - it is a grey area

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town Author

Unfortunately, squatters still rule in China and most are beyond disgusting!

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

I just linked your book to my hub 'terrible twos' [it isn't negative BTW]. There is NO excuse for any store to not let the bathroom be available to a child. I'm certainly glad I don't live in China, I'd be a bull in the shop. Sorry I have a twisted sense of humour sometimes, I got it from my husband!

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town Author

lol thanks Carmen. I'm in the process of putting your book in my Amazon Astore which is embedded in my website

bddonovan profile image

bddonovan 7 years ago from Beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts

one comment about potty training. We are a camping family and when my daughter was little we caught her in our back yard in the city using a tree just like camping. We had the talk about the difference about out in the woods and in the city and using the potty. Next at Sears, while shopping for camping equipment, I caught her coming around a plumbing endcap pulling up her pants. Her excuse was she "had to go". And when qurried as to where she pointed to the display toilet. We got out of there fast. I later found out this was not that uncommon.

Again a good post on a meaningful subject.

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town Author

Bddonovan, it could have been very embarrassing if someone noticed what your daughter was doing!

NateSean profile image

NateSean 7 years ago from Salem, MA

At the Rite Aid I worked at it depended on who was in charge. An elderly lady or a small child, absolutely, I'd be glad to let them into the bathroom. But I still had to answer to the management.

One assistant manager would always alow kids into the bathroom.

But there's two sides of the coin. If your child is old enough to go into the bathroom on his own, and he gets hurt, however it happens, are you going to hold the store responsible?

Sure, a kid might wet the floor and I'd have to clean it up. But on the upside I won't have to worry about paying out in damages if the kid gets a scratch. And I do live in a sue happy state so it's a legitimate concern.

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town Author

Nate, but I still think if a kid needs to pee, yhey need to pee and the stores should accommodate them!

NateSean profile image

NateSean 7 years ago from Salem, MA

And under most circumstances I agree. I never feel right about telling a kid he can't use the bathroom. And if it were my store yes, your child could use the bathroom as often as he or she needed to.

But take the Rite Aid bathroom I mentioned for example. There's cleaning supplies back there, not limited to, but including certain chemicals that we do keep out of reach, but could still be a danger to your child if he is left unattended.

Now if you're keeping an eye on your child that's great.

But what if it's a slightly older child who doesn't need supervision and that kid decides to start playing around in there? If he gets hurt, are you, the parent, going to sue that Rite Aid?

When your kid grows up and has to work for a place like that, she'll be forced to deal with those same circumstances. And she may feel bad about not letting a kid use the bathroom, but she'll feel worse for getting fired or sued because she allowed him to use it.

I know that probably sounds ridiculous to you but the world just isn't as simple as doing unto others anymore.

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town Author

I wouldn't sue Rite Aid if my child starts touching stuff. My child would know not to touch stuff and I'd be standing outside the bathroom door. I'd never let my child go to a public toilet alone. I have to say, that surely Rite Aid would be able to afford a small storage cupboard to keep their cleaning supplies?

NateSean profile image

NateSean 7 years ago from Salem, MA

You would think so.

When your store is one in a chain of thousands it's rarely about being able to afford something as opposed to what the corporation who owns your store allows you to do.

For example we were expected to ask for donations for the Children's Miricle Foundation but we couldn't let local charities like UNICEF leave a donations jar on our counter.

Go figure.

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