or was this father: softplay etiquette

(175 Posts)
quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 09:35:03

Really can't work out if I'm being precious or not but this really irritated me. Took my 2 year old DD to softplay to burn off a bit of energy. She normally loves it and has to be dragged away. There was an older boy in there (I think he was about five or six) with his dad. Dad was "supervising" but in practice was actually glued to his mobile phone and eating crisps. Didn't interact with his kid at all.
As soon as we arrived this kid was in my DD's face, wouldn't give her an inch to play on her own. To be fair he was being friendly and not aggressive, but v v boisterous and he had absolutely no concept that she might not want him bouncing in front of her, following her everywhere.
I kind of tolerated this for about 10 minutes thinking better for her to learn to cope, but my DD, who is quite reserved, was clearly feeling cornered and a bit scared: she tried to go over the little rope hammock/bridge thing which she normally loves. He kept repeatedly going to the end of the tunnel and blocking it so she couldn't get out the other end and it was starting to upset her.
I then started saying, kindly but firmly "can you just give her a bit of space to play on her own, she's only little." Kid would back down after being asked didn't seem to get bigger point about space at all and just kept following her and trying to engage with her. Meanwhile dad was still sitting there texting. Hadn't interacted with his son in any way since we'd been there.
After asking the kid four or five times to give her a bit of space I finally said "look can you just leave her alone for a bit, she wants to play on her own."
At which point dad suddenly storms into action, says to me: "don't talk to my son like that!."
I said to him sorry but my dd is trying to play on her own and your son isn't giving her any space.
"You do'nt own this place," dad responds. "This is for all kids. Don't talk to my son again."
We left at that point. I was quite upset that DD hadn't had a chance to enjoy it and annoyed at being spoken to by this excuse for a father

I really don't know if I over-reacted but surely parents have a responsibility to intervene if their kids are making it uncomfortable for others, even if its well-meant.

CabbageLooking Fri 01-Feb-13 09:36:45

YANBU. What an unhelpful arse.

MrsWolowitzerables Fri 01-Feb-13 09:37:55

I don't think YABU to have been annoyed.

Although I would have approached the Dad and asked him to speak to his son. If he refused then I would have done what you did.

EmmaBemma Fri 01-Feb-13 09:40:40

I don't think you were in the wrong. As the dad wasn't paying attention, he obviously wasn't aware of the lead-up to what you finally said. You shouldn't have left though.

Yfronts Fri 01-Feb-13 09:42:13

Couldn't you just have told son to play with someone else early on? He obviously didn't really get the space thing at all.

Don't think you should have lest and agrees the father didn't do the right thing.

Summerblaze Fri 01-Feb-13 09:43:00

YABU to be making a big deal about the Dad "not interacting" with his child. That is what soft play places are for. I interact with my DC at all other times but soft play is my space to let them have fun and me to have a few moments chatting with friends or reading, obviously not at the age of 2 but 5 or 6 year olds do not want mum or dad following them around.

YANBU to expect him however to intervene if he saw this happening and for him to sort his son out. He was very rude.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 01-Feb-13 09:44:22

YWNBU. Dad was being a twat.

I do wonder if the boy is younger than he appeared - age 5/6 should have been at sch, home ed parents ime display masses of engagement with their dcs when out and about so am discounting that as an explanation. What I am clumsily trying to say is you may have had unreasonable expectations of the child.

Nevertheless the parent should have been watching their child, what an arse.

EmmaBemma Fri 01-Feb-13 09:48:31

I'm the same as you, Summerblaze - I don't play much with my children at soft play now they're bigger. I take the chance to have a welcome sit down. But I do feel the need to keep a regular eye on them, though.

Branleuse Fri 01-Feb-13 09:48:40

i would have told the boy to be gentle and asked him to play nicely, not told him to go away. i think you were a bit mean

WorraLiberty Fri 01-Feb-13 09:49:05

Perhaps the Dad was MNetting? wink

Over zealous kids can be par for the course in places like that.

When it's happened to mine in the past I've just gone in and played with my child.

That normally puts a stop to it.

Yanbu my ds is 3 but will play with other children by making funny faces and roaring like a dinosaur at them. Sometimes this ends up with them all playing together or sometimes they will try to get away from him. If he continues to annoy the other children I will tell him to leave them alone. I let him get on with it to start off with as he's only practising his godawful social skills but will always keep an eye that he isn't annoying or hurting others. He is big for his age so some might think he's being deliberately annoying when he really only wants to play.

Locketjuice Fri 01-Feb-13 09:53:47

I can completely see where you are coming from my sons 1 and so many times at soft play I'm sure in good intention older children block him get in his face etc and I can see he is getting the arse and just wants to run without being blocked with generally results in falling over, I luckily have managed to escape most times and just move him on the to other side of the play area. Other times I just bring him down for a drink and they generally move on

YANBU to be pissed off with the dad for not stepping in soon and resolving the issue before it got to this

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 01-Feb-13 09:53:51

Haha! So here we have a dad being criticised for letting his child play alone at soft play, and very recently there was a post describing those who play with their kids at soft play as showing off!

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 01-Feb-13 09:59:00

I think telling the other kid to go away or whatever you said was a bit rude. Those places always have kids who've never met before and of different ages playing together. I think its nice for them to mix.

Would have been better to tell him not to block the tunnel or perhaps taken her to a different bit if he really was upsetting her (and it wasn't just you being a bit over protective).

The dad was over the top though, although it depends on what tone of voice you used.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 09:59:15

I have a six year old ds. I can't think how I could interact with him at a soft play centre without looking like a over anxious twat.
The boy didn't actually hurt your dd so I don't know what the problem was. I think it's ok to ask the boy for some space if you really wanted it but given the reaction of the father I'm guessing you weren't exactly diplomatic. The boy is a child too, who's learning important social skills. Perhaps you came across as a bit neurotic and entititled?

Summerblaze Fri 01-Feb-13 09:59:26

Yes, I do make sure that every now and then I have a scout round to make sure they are all behaving although I have a 9 year old who loves to tell me when DS (5) is being naughty. Dad was being a twat. When he realised what was going on he should have apologised and told the boy to be gentler/quieter/go and play somewhere else. Thats what I would have done.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:01:55

The OP says the boy was being friendly and not agressive. Poor little boy for being snapped at my an over-anxious mother hmm

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 01-Feb-13 10:06:37

I feel sorry for the boy too. He just wanted to play!

DeWe Fri 01-Feb-13 10:07:29

I'm not sure a 5yo would understand the term "a bit of space".

They'd think... "I'm giving them space, see, I can hold my arms out and not touch her... she's got space". Like when they're told to make sure they're in a space at school. (remembers sticking out arms and twirling round)

You'd have been better getting him along side. "Can you help her across here, she's a bit scared." "Can you let her go first along the tunnel and we'll wait for her." You never know they might have struck up a friendship with him helping her and you'd been able to relax a bit.

I doubt the dad saw what you saw. What he saw was his ds being friendly and wanting to play, and you telling him to go away.

When you have a 2yo, 5yo seem all-understanding huge lumps. When you have a 5yo they seem just as small and vunerable as you see your 2yo.

valiumredhead Fri 01-Feb-13 10:07:53

OP I would have moved my child, not told someone else's child to move especially as he was being friendly and not aggressive.

BupcakesAndCunting Fri 01-Feb-13 10:08:05

I think YABU

You say that the boy was friendly and not being aggressive. Maybe you would do better to teach your DD to mingle with other kids?

Makes me feel a bit sad reading this as my 5 year old DS is exactly the kind of kid who tries to make friends with smaller kids at these places, just because he is an only child and likes looking after little kids. And I don't think that the dad was all that rude tbh!

Trazzletoes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:08:34

I don't think you were BU. I'd have said the same, but I don't really understand why you left.

BupcakesAndCunting Fri 01-Feb-13 10:09:48

When you have a 2yo, 5yo seem all-understanding huge lumps. When you have a 5yo they seem just as small and vunerable as you see your 2yo"

That's very well put, DeWe.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:10:18

It really gets on my nerves when normal behaviour such as friendliness and exuberance are viewed as 'naughty.'

Tryharder Fri 01-Feb-13 10:10:23

On the fence with this one. The Dad was rude and a twat but you do sound bit precious and if the boy was being a bit OTT, you should have approached the Dad rather than get sharp with the boy. The boy was presumably only trying to play with your PFB.

Perhaps it would be nice to encourage your DD to play with other children rather than by herself?

millie30 Fri 01-Feb-13 10:10:46

TBH if you don't want other children to give your DD space then soft play really isn't the place for you.

millie30 Fri 01-Feb-13 10:12:23

Meant 'if you want other children to give your DD space'

OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:14:10

Oh gawd this could have been my DP (although not my son, hes very empathetic to peoples space and feelings thankfully.

But DP gets most defensive over our children, I obviously step in when Im there but forget Mother Tiger, more like tries to think of father version thats not twee


Tbh the father kind of could eat crisps and play on his phone as his child was older and would generally be ok. But yes, he should not have lept to his sons defense when he didnt understand what he was defending. Although it was probably an understandable, natural reaction, it was clearly a rash and slightly unfair one!

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 01-Feb-13 10:15:53

I'm not sure a 5yo would understand the term "a bit of space".

I agree. Kid wouldn't have understood what he was being asked to do.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:17:04

What exactly did the boy do wrong then OHforDUCKScake ?

WilsonFrickett Fri 01-Feb-13 10:17:31

The dad was rude but I agree, a 5 yo (if he was even 5, was this in school hours?) wouldn't understand 'a bit of space.' I think you were being teeny bit precious tbh. Left on their own, kids sort this kind of thing out at softplay.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 01-Feb-13 10:18:09

It really gets on my nerves when normal behaviour such as friendliness and exuberance are viewed as 'naughty.'

Yeah me too.

YABU you should have moved your child to another part of the soft play, or said 'excuse me please' to the lad when he was in her way. I also think you are being harsh on the dad, a 5yr old at soft play doesn't need interaction, and he was clearly supervising or he wouldn't have noticed you telling his lad off. He maybe did notice him playing with your dd but chose not to get involved because thats what he was doing, playing.

nefertarii Fri 01-Feb-13 10:21:59

I can't decide 100% on the dad as it depends on tone.
I would be pissed if someone snapped at my ds, especially if they had not attempted to speak to me first.

yabu not to have spoken to the dad if it was really upsetting your child and he wouldn't leave her alone.
Yabu about the lack of interaction. I have a very clingy ds who is 2, who really couldn't care less where I am when I am soft play. I don't think he would even notice if I left. Usually he is always checking i am about. But not at soft play.

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 10:23:07

I have had to ask other children to give ds 'some space' - although i usually try explaining to the child that 'ds is a bit scared of other children, and just likes playing on his own, because he is a bit shy'. Then I try and explain to the adult, that 'ds is really is very nervous around other children, and sorry if it seems if we are being rude'.

I think you could have explained it to the boy in simpler terms, if your dd was upset. And I think the dad was out of order to be so rude to you.

There are lots of children who are a bit nervous of older children for all sorts of reasons, and they shouldn't feel they have to play with children they don't want to, even if they are in soft play.

OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:26:40

I didnt suggest hed done anything wrong. hmm

I likened the sons father to my own DP and suggested that he shouldnt have leapt in before finding out what was going on.

Flobbadobs Fri 01-Feb-13 10:27:24

The Dad was rude but you should have spoken to him first.
Are you supposed to play with your children at soft play then? I must have been doing it wrong all these years... grin

allnewtaketwo Fri 01-Feb-13 10:27:42

Agree that a 5yo can't be expected at all to understand the concept of a "bit of space"

I've never been in a soft play that doesn't have a separate space for very young children (usually <4), as opposed to a main play area. OP is there no separate area in this one for very young children?

Agree with whoever said the child may well have looked a lot older than he was, especially if he was in the area for young children.

And if he was 5/6, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with his father not interracting with him in soft play.

But all that said, YANBU to be annoyed at the way he spoke to you, or that DD didn't get a chance to play

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:32:50


You said the father's reaction was rash and unfair. That implies his ds was in the wrong hmm

MrsMushroom Fri 01-Feb-13 10:37:44

I agree that you were perhaps a bit unreasonable. As Bupcakes said, when you have 2 year old, a 5 year old seems so grown up but they're not really....and as someone else said it would have been better too say "excuse me please, an you let her out of the tunnel?"

And the Dad could sit on his phone if he wanted...plenty of people do that. I don't really interact with my DC at soft play centres. They don't want me to!

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 10:38:17

Dad was "supervising" but in practice was actually glued to his mobile phone and eating crisps. Didn't interact with his kid at all.

This is me at softplay. DS is 5 and I love it that he's now old enough to run off and find other children to play with and I get a chance to have a coffee and read the paper.

I do keep an eye on him though and I'd be seriously pissed off if an adult told him to go away because he was trying to play with a smaller child.

I think he would understand "give her some space" but it would help to me more specific ie "she's trying to climb through this tunnel, could you move out of the way please? Then it'll be your turn"

OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:38:30

No. Unfair, he should have asked what was going on.

I clearly said that. Clearly.

At no point did I suggest the son had done anything wrong.

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 10:40:08

BorntoFolk, would you be pissed off, if the parent saying it wasn't rude and also had a word with you?


OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:40:15

I do not think the 5 yo did anything wrong. Thus, I wouldnt suggest it.

You carry on reading what isnt there, I cant be arsed with a non-arguement.

1991all Fri 01-Feb-13 10:46:36

look at it from the dad's pov
All he saw was you telling his son not to play with your daughter

He might have looked up a few times and seen nothing untoward so kept texting
His son wasn't doing anything wrong

his child is just as precious to him as yours is to you

And he doesn't need to interact with his son at soft play

another child didn't play with yours the way you would have liked. I suggest you get used to it

atacareercrossroads Fri 01-Feb-13 10:46:41

Yabu, 5 is still so very young, and trying to explain personal space to a 5 y/o is like plaiting fog

Poor lil bugger, sounds like my Ds and makes me sad to think he'd have some adult having a go at him for just trying to be nice. You should have spoken to the dad as the boy wasn't actually doing anything wrong sad

Lindsay321 Fri 01-Feb-13 10:47:31

Sorry but YABU.

The dad was right to say "You do'nt own this place. This is for all kids".

You said the little boy was being nice just overbearing i.e. he was playing so why should he be removed?

DS sometimes get lots of attention from older girls at soft play who want to play with him and while it sometimes freaks him out I wouldn't ask the girls or their parents to move them away from DS. It's just kids interacting.

piprabbit Fri 01-Feb-13 10:48:06

The dad was being an arse.

The little boy however, sounds basically kind and like he was wanting to play (perhaps he was a bit lonely playing on his own). In that situation I have gently included the new child in my play with my DCs, showing them ways to play together nicely. My DCs generally seem to enjoy it (making a new friend is a good thing), and I hope the new child gets something out of it too.

However it doesn't sound the dad would have been keen on that approach either sad.

BubaMarra Fri 01-Feb-13 10:48:45

It seems you have an underlying judging attitude and acted accordingly. So in reality 'I was nice to a boy and tried to explain him my DD needed a bit of space' actually was more like you were trying to exclude him in a way he either couldn't understand or wouldn't accept and when you lost it, you just snapped at him very harsh words.
I can see that his behavior was annoying, but you picked all the wrong ways to deal with it. Also, he might not be 5/6yo, when you have a baby or a toddler, older children tend to look much older to you than they actually are. Something to consider next time you approach other children.

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 10:49:52

hazeyjane, no, I'd have absolutely no problem with someone speaking to DS like you described in your post. It's not a telling off is it? Just explaining that your DS is shy. In that situation, I'd encourage DS to go and find something else to do.

It's just that the tone of the OP's post sounded like she was frustrated and told the boy to "leave her alone" which is pretty rude, IMHO.

I do think that the father in the OP's situation could have tried to find out what was going on before launching into the OP though. He was being unreasonable on that count.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:50:42

Glad to see you agree the boy did nothing wrong ohforduckscake

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 10:51:57

phew, thanks BorntoFolk - I was worried because we actually have this situation a lot, and I just want to know that I am not pissing anyone off, whilst trying to do the right thing for ds, IYSWIM!


Soft play is a chance for parents to down tools for a bit and let their DC entertain themselves!!

The little boy was being friendly and personally I think the dad was right - you don't own it, it is for other kids too. If you didn't like the situation you should have removed your DD and let her play somewhere else.

I feel sorry for the boy actually, he probably just wanted someone to play with.

theodorakisses Fri 01-Feb-13 10:54:46

YABU for suggesting that he was a bad parent for not playing with his kid. For me, kindles are the greatest invention ever. I would have sat and read but then i have always felt nauseated by the loud interactive parents, they scare me.

MrsBethel Fri 01-Feb-13 10:56:31


What a tosser.

OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:56:57

Well thank God Ive pleased you Justgiveme.

I can sleep at night now. <rolls eyes>

Do you usually speak to people as though they are your 6 yo pupil?

Cherriesarelovely Fri 01-Feb-13 10:57:45

When my Dd was 2 she was reseverved too. She would've found that upsetting, yes you could have moved, or you could have jumped in yourself but the dad should have been keeping at least half an eye out for his son. I saw something very similar in a park. Child throwing bark relentlessly at other children, parent nowhere to be seen, grandparent of another child asked him to stop, mother leapt out of nowhere and said "how dare you tell my child off"! Oh, ok we'll all just stand here while you ignore your child and ours get hit in the face with bark!!! YANBU.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:58:32

haha. Just people who sound like Year 6 pupils.

<also rolls eyes>

landofsoapandglory Fri 01-Feb-13 10:58:44

The OP didn't ask the boy to go away, she asked him to leave her DD alone, after 4 or 5 times of asking because her DD was becoming upset!

I don't think YWBU OP. The dad was for jumping in and being rude to you when he had no idea of what had been happening before hand.

But the boy wasn't being aggressive, he was just playing!!

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 10:59:54

I see what you mean! I agree with you that little children shouldn't have to play with the bigger ones if they don't want to.
DS loves to play football with the "big boys" (big, grown up 9-10 year olds!) at soft play so I do keep an eye on him to make sure he's not making a nuisance of himself.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 11:00:23


Totally different situation. Throwing bark relentlessly at a child is dangerous and aggressive. OP says this boy was being friendly.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 11:01:10

Those of you saying I was a bit rude, I did feel bad about this and I wonder if I over-reacted but I had said it nicely to him about four or five times and he just wasn't getting the message at all. And it felt quite unequal because his physical boisterousness -- while not aggressive -- was basically preventing my kid from playing because every time she moved an inch he was there in her face. I tried to coax her into being a bit bolder and engaging with her but she was on the verge of tears.
FiveMinutes its not about viewing it as "naughty" -- it wouldn't have bothered me if he was being friendly all over the softplay area but he was just choosing to do it six inches away from my kid all the time. In practice his behaviour meant my dd was unable to do anything. I didn't see why my child should basically not be able to use the softplay because of this kid's behaviour and I would have liked the dad to use a bit of nous and deal with it.
But points taken etc....

Cherriesarelovely Fri 01-Feb-13 11:01:19

You don't have to be loudly playing with your kids (although if they are shy you might) but you do need to be looking out for them to some extent.

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 11:03:28

The OP didn't ask the boy to go away, she asked him to leave her DD alone, after 4 or 5 times of asking because her DD was becoming upset!

There's a fine line between "go away" and "leave my daughter alone" though, isn't there?
And if the OP was just saying "give her some space" the boy could easily have been confused about exactly what he was expected to do!

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 11:03:40

It is a minefield quesadilla I did once ask a boy to stop what he was doing but that was because he was placing mats over ds and his friend and then jumping up and down on them.

Cherriesarelovely Fri 01-Feb-13 11:06:44

No it isn't totally different, it is slightly different. If my child was being "overexuberant" to the extent that they were upsetting a younger child (blocking the tunnel etc) I would ask them to stop. The dad couldn't be bothered so OP asked him. She asked him four or five times and then she asked firmly. Completely reasonable behaviour. Reasonable response from dad would have been "oh, sorry about that I wasn't watching, is your dd ok?".

landofsoapandglory Fri 01-Feb-13 11:08:01

So the OP had to let her 2 yo DD be upset and not be able to play because the boy was only playing?

LucilleBluth Fri 01-Feb-13 11:10:02

OP do you only have girls, I say this because I have witnessed mothers who only have girls judge normal boy behaviour a bit too harshly.

Fwiw I would have reacted like the dad.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 11:10:11

We'll have to agree to disagree Cherries As I said earlier in the thread I don't like the fact that normal behaviour (friendliness and exuberence) are viewed as 'naughty.'

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 11:11:29

And tbh, what is 'exuberant play' to one child is just scary to another more timid one. They both have the right to be at the soft play, or park, but it is up to the parents to try and make sure they can both pay happily in their own space.

Just a child he doesn't know being friendly to ds can set him off, but I completely get that some children love to be friendly to little ones ( I have 5 and 6 year old dds too, who love to mother smaller children, and I always check it is ok with the parents of the lo), so i always try and be really gentle in my asking them to leave ds alone.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 11:13:57

hazyjane The point for me though is that the OP felt her dd's right to play in her way was far more important than the boy's style of play. That's why she insisted the boy should stop. That strikes me as very entitled.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 11:17:26

Lucille yes I've only got the one girl. And that did cross my mind as I realize that boys are often more exuberant/physical than girls and I didn't want to be hostile or rude to this kid.
But my dd has been to softplay loads and can cope with bigger kids chucking themselves all over the place. The issue with this kid is that he had singled out my dd and was determined to play with her and her alone and to be everywhere she was. And while that was kind of sweet at one level (and he seemed well-intentioned) she really wasn't up for it.
FWIW I don't expect parents to be totally immersed in softplay. But surely "supervision" entails being aware enough of what's going on to recognize when your kid is significantly p**** someone else's kid off.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 11:20:31

FiveMinutes I didn't feel my dd's right to play was more important than the boy's. But this boy could quite happily have played on his own or with the other 3 or 4 kids in there (and he had been doing so before we got there). But my dd literally couldn't move in there because he was blocking her every time she tried to move. I totally get that he has the right to let off steam and do his thing but I don't see why he should have the right to dominate someone else's experience of sp to the extent that the other kid effectively couldn't do anything in there...

BubaMarra Fri 01-Feb-13 11:27:00

If OP had told him 5-6 times nicely and he wouldn't listen, what OP was expecting? If she said it again, but this time firmly, that it would make a difference?
He is a child, OP is an adult, she should have known better. And that includes (among other things) approaching the father and asking him to help her with the situation as her DD is getting upset.

Lindsay321 Fri 01-Feb-13 11:35:09


I wrote something very similar but deleted it as I thought I'd be flamed for saying so. I've seen it a couple of times too. Parents of girls harshly judging boys for "playing rough" and not wanting them near their girls. It's sad and precious. Especially in a situation like this where the little boy wasn't being nasty or rough just a bit OTT like kids are.

TBH I think the OP mage out his behaviour was more like a creep in the pub than a child at soft play.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 11:45:33

Look, I get the point about there being nothing wrong with boisterous play. I've said it before but I don't have an issue with this. The issue I had was that the kid was doing it six inches from my dd's face. All the time. Without any let up.

Fully prepared to accept I may have over-reacted/been precious in the way I responded and dealt with his dad. But I think some of you think I expect boys to act like little lord fauntleroy atsp. That isn't the case. This kid was acting like a defender in a football match, using blocking tactics to stop my dd going off to do her own thing or basically moving at all. That goes beyond boisterous play, its interfering with the right of another kid to move freely about.

ShephardsDelight Fri 01-Feb-13 11:46:17


I have had a 'boisterous child'(at 2 yrs not sure how old this kid was) and I would have preferred you to come to me discreetly and say 'your sons blocking the tunnel so my DD can't get out' I would have apologized etc.

SolomanDaisy Fri 01-Feb-13 11:46:37

Lindsay and Lucille, I agree and I bet both the OP's reaction and her description of the boy's behaviour would have been nicer if the child had been a girl.

LucilleBluth Fri 01-Feb-13 11:49:52

I have two boys aged 9 and 11 and a DD aged 2 so I can see it from both sides. My DD approaches things with caution, at 2 yo my DS's would have been dripping with sweat from running and jumping at soft play.......but I still think the OP went about things the wrong way.

itsahardlifegodfrey Fri 01-Feb-13 11:52:49

Dad was "supervising" but in practice was actually glued to his mobile phone and eating crisps

if his child was 5 of 6 he shouldn't spend every waking second looking at what his kid is doing, its not the same as looking after a 2 year old.

Unless you were watching the father 100% of the time you have no idea how often he was checking on his son. When mine were 5 I would only look up to check where they were every so often - anything more is OTT and unnecessary IMO. I would be listening for them all the time.

The dad was perhaps rude because you came across as being rude to his son.

DonderandBlitzen Fri 01-Feb-13 11:58:03

You mentioned a couple of times that the dad wasn't interacting with his son, but 5/6 year olds don't really want much interaction with their parents at soft play. They want to run around and explore on their own. Having said that the boy sounds like he was being annoying and a girl doing the same would have been equally annoying. It does sound like after all your polite requests being ignored he did warrant being spoken to a bit more firmly to get the point accross. The dad was unreasonable to have a go at you, unless you really had a go at the son.

eggsy11 Fri 01-Feb-13 11:59:19

yabu! How dare you soeak to a CHILD like that?????
The boy wasn't being aggressive, you should of spoke to his dad if you had an issue, not to a defenceless child who was trying to be friendly

eggsy11 Fri 01-Feb-13 12:01:47

My DS is 17months and there has been so many times girls of between 3-6 try and pick him up because they think he's like a doll. they physically hurt him sometimes and I always say 'oh he doesn't like that' or speak to their mums. They don't understand!

WilsonFrickett Fri 01-Feb-13 12:03:52

Am still not convinced the boy actually was 5.


You cant take your child to soft play and expect no other children to be there, and for her to have space to play on her own.

The boy would not have been as old as you think, children start school when they are 4. The boy would not have understood what you asked of him.

The father was probably shocked that you kept nagging his little boy to stop playing!

DonderandBlitzen Fri 01-Feb-13 12:07:06

In term time could you take your dd to soft play during school hours? That way there won't be 5/6 year olds there.

DonderandBlitzen Fri 01-Feb-13 12:20:07

I have older kids and in the circumstances you describe, if it were my son I wouldn't have minded you telling him off if I hadn't noticed what was going on. I just think if kids are being a pain and not responding to polite requests to stop something, then it does them no harm for an adult who isn't their parent to tell them firmly to stop it.

TotallyBS Fri 01-Feb-13 12:21:01

When my kids were young I took them to soft play just so I could have some Me Time. I went one step further and took a laptop to surf off their wi fi. So IMO you are being a bit judgy pants with regards to the dad not interacting with his son.

That aside YANBU to be irritated by this kid but I would have been more diplomatic about it.

I have been in similar situations and I find that a polite 'I don't mean to be rude but...' to the parent does the job. Flip the situation around. How would you respond to a stranger telling off your kid?

elizaregina Fri 01-Feb-13 13:04:39


I have only skimmed - I also dont " interact" with DD in soft play - its me time - where i can put her in a " safe" place - thats soft and let her play.

I do however also manage to watch her and make sure she is playing nicely and with others...and others are playing niceley with her.

I know what you mean op - sometimes when DD was little she was " adopted" by older children and sometimes if you can see they are sensbile and GENTLE it wasnt a problem - like having a little baby sitter actually.

BUt sometimes children were really man handling her - dragging her everywhere trying to pick her up etc and wouldnt leave her alone.

It is possible to have "me" time AND glance up every so often to check or watch your child.

Soft play op - is an area fraught with misery sometimes - when people simply dont monitor thier children.

elizaregina Fri 01-Feb-13 13:07:05

If my DD was causing distress to another I would have simply told DD to back off and play elsewhere.

JollyRedGiant Fri 01-Feb-13 13:23:24

In this situation I would have taken my child to another part of the soft play.

I have no qualms about telling other people's children off and regularly do. I would expect someone to tell my child off if I was distracted.

My 21mo DS can be shy and might not have coped well with the situation. I would have asked the boy specific things like "could you please move from the end of the tunnel so DS can get through?" Or more likely I would have said to DS "you can't go through there just now because the big boy is in the tunnel. Come on over here and go down the slide."

DS is 21mo, I'm aware that the large part of the soft play is aimed at the older children and that DS can play safely in the baby part. Older children, I feel, have more right to run around in the big bit and let off steam than my DS does, so if I feel DS is curtailing their play I will move him.

However if a child is being deliberately aggressive and hitting or pushing others I will say something.

redskyatnight Fri 01-Feb-13 13:25:26

Was your DD playing in a space that was aimed at older children (have been to soft plays where there is (say) an area for under 4s then a separate area for 4+)? I think in those sorts of places you have to accept that whilst your younger child can play in the older child area, it's really up to you to move your child out the way if older children are causing you a "problem".

FunnysInLaJardin Fri 01-Feb-13 13:30:03

at our soft play there is a separate area for young children where the parents can supervise. The older ones are not allowed in. The rest of it is for the older dc and I most certainly don't supervise my DC in there. Once they are in there they can disappear for hours and sort out their own battles

allnewtaketwo Fri 01-Feb-13 13:34:24

I asked this question redsky but I don't think it was answered. It is very relevant though. Either:

- the 2yo was playing in the area for older children, or
- the 5/6 yo was playing in the area for very young children, or
- the other child wasn't in fact 5/6 but was perhaps 4

I've never been to a soft play that doesn't have a separate play area for young children.

NutellaNutter Fri 01-Feb-13 13:36:52

When you have a 2yo, 5yo seem all-understanding huge lumps. When you have a 5yo they seem just as small and vunerable as you see your 2yo.

Also absolutely agree with the above ^

MrsOakenshield Fri 01-Feb-13 13:39:00

our local soft play has a separate bit for babies, but after that they're all in together.

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 13:43:04

I've never been to a soft play that doesn't have a separate play area for young children.

I think that the baby/toddler area at ours goes up to 6 or at least 5. I remember last time I was there being a bit surprised that DS would still be "allowed" in there as he hasn't shown any interest since he was about 3!
So it is possible that both a 2 year old and 5 year old could be using the space legitimately, as it were.

LondonNinja Fri 01-Feb-13 13:45:30

Er, instead of saying the OP should teach her DD to play with the bigger kid (which she didn't want to do – and why should she?) perhaps the boy's father should teach his kid the concept of personal space when it is obvious someone doesn't want to play with him?!

I don't think soft play places are a licence for parents to shut their brains and eyes down and let their kids do whatever they like come what may.

allnewtaketwo Fri 01-Feb-13 13:46:32

OP not sure if you've clarifed this yet but what time did you go to the soft play at? The 5/6 year old would be at school in the mornings/early afternoon?

RattyRoland Fri 01-Feb-13 13:49:00

Yanbu. This is why I hate softplay, too argumentative and noisy and germ infested

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 14:35:35

AllNew no it doesn't separate the "big" kids from the babies. Its a very small softplay. And I went at about 3.45/4. And I'm aware that during school hours would have been better but this is rarely possible for me. I work (almost) full time and work from home quite often so I tend to take her after I've finished but my shift is usually 7 until 3. So by the time I've finished and got her dressed and packed and got there its usually gone 4. Not much I can do about that unfortunately.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 14:47:17

I wonder quesadilla how you would've felt had the father of the boy started to shout at your dd along the lines of 'why won't you play with my ds? ' I'm certain you'd have been furious so as I've already said I have very limited sympathy for you.

SunflowersSmile Fri 01-Feb-13 14:50:17

YANBU op- and I say that as a Mum of two boisterous boys.
Dad should have had bit of eye on son.
If my older child upsetting younger one by over friendliness I would have directed him somewhere else and explained little girl wants to play on her own.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 14:52:39

FiveMinutes I didn't shout at him. I just asked him to leave her alone. I was talking to him constantly while I was there -- he was talking at me and I responded in a friendly way -- and I just: "look, she just wants to play on her own, could you just leave her alone." I didn't raise my voice and he didn't appear upset.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 14:58:57

If you spoke to him nicely why then did the father tell you not to speak to his son 'like that?' And if you did speak to the boy in a slightly off way, as I say, imagine how you'd feel if the dad had done the same to your daughter.
That said, it's obvious you're upset and it is one of those things you're going to have to put down to experience. Never assume the 'excuse for a father' (as you describe him) doesn't feel the same level of love and desire to protect his son as you feel for your dd.

maddening Fri 01-Feb-13 15:00:09

My friend and her dh always play with their children (now 7 &5) at soft play where loads of parents just bugger off and ignore their children - the result is my friend and her dh have loads of children following them round wanting to play too - he now hates it as they end babysitting loads of lazy parents' children.

At the end of the day that man should have been more aware of his ds. Teaching his ds not to harrass other people when they don't want to play with him - your dd is not obliged to entertain his child just as he can't be arsed doing it himself.

I go round with my ds at soft play - which I have to as he is 2 - but will continue to as he gets older as long as he wants me to play.
When I am ggoing round the soft play it is clear that lots of children would love their parents to come and play with them instead if ignoring them from the comfy sofa.

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 15:06:04

The point for me though is that the OP felt her dd's right to play in her way was far more important than the boy's style of play.

I don't see that, no-one should have to play with someone, if they don,t want to, the little boy could have found someone else to play with.

And sorry but the idea of the boy's father shouting, 'why won,t you ply with my son' is hilarious!

There is no reason whatsoever why the op should go at a time when older children aren't there. A younger or more timid child has just as much right as any other to go whenever they like.

And all the stuff about mother's of girls not 'getting' boys and their boyishness, well hooey.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 15:10:23

FiveMinutes you'd have to ask him that. As I say, I did not shout at the kid, I didn't even raise my voice. I may have sounded slightly frustrated or stern or at the end of my rope in my tone, but that was the worst of it. That's what took me back, to be honest... the guy was sat there and he must have heard me more gently admonishing his kid four or five time before I finally asked him to leave her alone. And then after expressing no interest whatsoever in the situation he suddenly snapped at me.
I do understand that its not comfortable to have someone reprimand your child. I just think anyone with any social radar, not to mention any concern about teaching their kid to socialize properly, would have stepped in earlier and said: "can you just back off a bit" to him.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 15:25:45

tbh stopping her going across the bridge by blocking the other end, isn't exactly friendly is it?

If he was saying 'come and play with me' to the OP's DD and the OP told him to leave her alone then fair enough, but he was upsetting her and preventing her from doing what she wanted.

I think the dad saying to his son 'go and play somewhere else, this little girl doesn't want to play right now' would have been a better way of dealing with it than having a go at the OP.

starlady Fri 01-Feb-13 15:33:24

quesadilla - I know this has been pointed out before, but I would put money on the fact this child was a lot younger than you assume. Otherwise he'd have been in school. Either that, or he had SN (if so, yes dad should have been supervising).

My own ds was mistaken as older so many times (including a paediatrician who assumed he was 7 when he was still three). We went through so many heartbreaking moments of casual harshness from other parents who would assume that normal age-appropriate playful behaviour was in someway threatening to their own child. I took to saying in a loud voice 'He's only 2 (or 3 or whatever age he was). It's always hard when you're so tall' - unsurprisingly my ds has a bit of a complex about his height now sad. I know you're protective about your own dd, but I can see why the father snapped - albeit in a way I would never have.

larrygrylls Fri 01-Feb-13 15:39:41

Blocking is bullying. A five or six year old tried to do that to my two year old the other day when he wanted to come down a slide. I let him do it a few times when I thought he might be playing but after the nth time when my son was becoming distressed I gave the bigger child a bollocking ("oi you, what do you think you are doing, let my child come down the slide now"). He scarpered PDQ with a very guilty look in his eye.

I do think that it is a fine line between style of play and nastiness, though and, if the bigger child was trying to play nicely, it would have been nice to encourage some supervised interaction first, rather than telling him to go away. I am often amazed how kind and interested some older children are in my children and generally take the view that this is a great thing. But, if parents don't want to supervise their children, the corollary is that they have to accept other parents supervising them. I take the view that all (well intentioned) adults should be able to supervise all children. When I am at soft play I frequently feel like the pied piper, with four of five extra expectant kids around me (whose nannies are busy having a conversation with one another in Slovakian, Czech or Russian normally). I do tell them what to do and sometimes move them physically (for instance if children are taking turns down a slide and one decides to block the end).

I have only once had an altercation with a father whose child was throwing toys and I and another father had told him firmly three times to either stop or go away. His father got quite nasty but eventually backed off (when his child was not politic enough to actually stop throwing toys...).

So, I think you are DNBU for having a word with the child and protecting your daughter's enjoyment of the area but I do think that you might have tempered the "go away" with something a little more positive.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 15:44:02

starlady it was 3:45pm/4pm! Most infant school's finish by 3pm/3:15pm/3:30pm latest.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 15:46:07

starlady you might be right about his age. It crossed my mind as well that he might have been somewhere on the ASD spectrum -- he was totally hyperactive and seemed to have no sense of restraint at all and zero social skills. Also seemed intelligent. My quarrel wasn't with the kid at all, it was with his dad.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 15:48:41

Oh and 'boys play differently' is rubbish!

The OP's dd doesn't have to put up with behaviour that frightens or upsets her because 'he's a boy'.

If you have a boy, who 'plays' in a way that upsets and frightens other children, you need to teach him to find playmates that like that game, not say 'well you're a boy, upsetting two year-old girls is inevitable'.

usualsuspect Fri 01-Feb-13 15:48:51

YABU, the boy just wanted someone to play with.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 15:50:09

The example I gave was because there's no doubt in my mind the OP would be furious had the father spoken to her dd in a 'stern' tone.
Still feel really sorry for this poor kid. Hope he finds a more willing friend to play with when he's next at a soft play area.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 15:51:35

Believe it or not lots of girls like boisterous, rough and tumble play and aren't frightened of every strange kid they come into contact with.

starlady Fri 01-Feb-13 15:52:45

I understand. I do thiink most mums are usually much better at picking up this kind of stuff, and dealing with it more diplomatically. Dads are different at parenting, and this one seemed to be particularly poor. If his DS was ASD, he's probably grieving, and particular over-sensitive to his son's poor social skills being picked up on? P'raps he was on the spectrum himself?

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 15:55:48

If your argument was with the dad not the child, why then didn't you speak in a 'stern' way to him instead of his son?

usualsuspect Fri 01-Feb-13 15:56:40

So now you have diagnosed the boy with ASD?

Only on MN. He was probably just a kid who wanted a playmate.

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 15:59:07

Well yes, and I would be furious if someone shouted at my ds to play with their child, really, really furious. But the op has said she didn't shout at the boy, only spoke firmly, and this after 4 or 5 attempts to stop him blocking her dd etc.

And believe it or not, a lot of boys are not keen on rough and tumble play, and are nervous of other children, different stokes and all that.

Feminine Fri 01-Feb-13 15:59:30

I can see both sides. I have two 'big' boys and a little girl.

My dd is 'tougher' as she has brothers, but some are intimidated by boys ...no good reason -they just are!

So, its very clear what happened today, op you needed a more involved Dad. Despite he wasn't being naughty (and I know you said that too) his style of play was not cool with your DD. You could see that. Its a shame the Father didn't.

YANBU. is my opinion.

curryeater Fri 01-Feb-13 16:05:07

the dad was fine to eat crisps and read the internet, but only if he was also fine for you to stop his child being a pain in the arse.
and his child was being a pain in the arse. child or adult, you don't have to do something "wrong" (violent or malicious) to be a pain in the arse. If someone wants you (your time, your attention, your company) they don't necessarily deserve it. they can ask for it, you can say no. this child was small and has to learn this, so should be taught it nicely.
Judging from some of the people on this thread some children will never be taught it though - some people (extraverts) really do not get that other people are exhausted and drained at times by people being in their face, however "nice". They should listen and accept it, instead of going on and on about whether or not someone did something "wrong" or was just being "friendly".

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 16:09:13

usualsuspect I didn't diagnose him at all. Other people suggested he might be special needs and I said it "crossed my mind" that he might be ASD. Don't put words in my mouth.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 16:09:29

'Believe it or not lots of girls like boisterous, rough and tumble play and aren't frightened of every strange kid they come into contact with.'

Justgive this was my point, when I said 'Oh and 'boys play differently' is rubbish'.


OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 16:13:52

usual the boy wanted someone to play with, but the OP's DD didn't want to play with him. She shouldn't be forced to play with someone she doesn't want to.

Mollydoggerson Fri 01-Feb-13 16:17:59

YWBU in my view.

The other child clearly didn't understand the message. You could have tried to explain a little more kindly such as 'my little girl wants to play on her own as she is only little, is that ok? Maybe you could find some other kids to play with?' said in a nice, kind voice. Maybe he just didn't understand the term needs more space.

There is never really any need to be unkind to another child, we are the adults we should try to be kind to all of them.

I also think if the boy was 5/6 then it is ok for the dad to leave him play on his own.

TBH very small toddlers aren't 100% suited to the expected rough and tumble of playcentres and as a result playcentres are harder work for the parents of toddlers. Such is life.

Mollydoggerson Fri 01-Feb-13 16:20:08

PS I also think the dad was a bit unreasonable for being so defensive, it would have made more sense for him to have just walked away with his son to another area.

Both a bit unreasonable I think.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 16:21:03

That wasn't at all clear from your post Outraged confused

BabyRoger Fri 01-Feb-13 16:22:01

Exactly what Molly said above.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 16:22:53

Sorry, I thought 'Oh and 'boys play differently' is rubbish' was quite clear!

simplesusan Fri 01-Feb-13 16:29:29

It sounds as though the little boy doesn't understand the concept of personal space.
In his way he wasn't being mean, he only wanted to play.
That doesn't help you or your dd though.
If it happens again, I would go and play with dd and explain to the other child that she doesn't want to play his game, not today thanks. Make sure you are smiling at the child and use a soft tone.
Soft play centres seem a nightmare. Lots of very different people enclosed together with differing views on how to play.

LimeLeafLizard Fri 01-Feb-13 16:39:37

I can see both sides of this and think it is very difficult to call, based on the information given.

I have seen parents be fussily over-protective of their pfb, I have also seen parents use 'boys will be boys' as an excuse to let their child annoy others or be naughty. How much of each was evident here, it is hard to tell.

I think in your circumstances, I'd have taken my child off to the cafe / to look at something else / to the toilet for a bit, to give the boy time to find something else to do - and then gone back to a different part of the soft play.

ILoveFrogs Fri 01-Feb-13 17:08:40

YABU to mention the dad not interacting with his son. My DS is 3 and we go to soft play every second Friday, I sit with my nose in the ipad and only see DS periodically when he comes for a sip of water, obviously I glance up to see if he is being a nuisance but most of the time he's out of sight in the massive play pen….. I'm now feeling a little bit bad that I'm probably being judged by some of the other parents! blush

I personally think you should have spoke to the dad if the little boy was being that bothersome, but he has every right to play where he wants. Incidentally one time I did have to get off my ass and move DS on when he decided to invade the space of a little baby girl who was crawling around, he kept following her and stroking her head, strange little child of mine! Mum was fine, I was a little perplexed though!

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 17:15:28

'but he has every right to play where he wants'

unless where he wants to play is in someone elses face.

You have every right to sit where you like on a bus, but you can't sit on someone elses lap.

aquashiv Fri 01-Feb-13 17:23:23

I would have just played with my child and prob the poor little boy too they normally get bored (or is it me) and go off when you give them the attention they crave.
The father prob zoned out and only heard you giving his son a hard time over giving your child some space(that does sound rather precious sorry)

Lol...... Yes, because a small boy trying, inexpertly, to play with another child at soft play is just the same as sitting on someone on a bus.

I would be willing to bet that, if the father were to post his side of the story, it would be a tale of an overprotective PFB mother laying into his son who was just trying to be friendly.

(And that's not a criticism of the OP, just pointing out that I bet there is a difference in perception here)

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 19:13:30

Why is it PFB or precious if your child isn't happy with another child playing with them when they don't want to?

piprabbit Fri 01-Feb-13 19:32:08

It's a little PFB because I suspect that the OPs DD didn't realise that the little boy was trying to play. Just as he didn't understand where he was going wrong, the OPs DD is too little to realise that here was a chance to make a friend and have fun. That's where the adult comes in to it and tries to help the children find a nice way to play together (at least to give it a try before calling it a day).

The OP had a choice to either help her DD feel confident to play with the other child (in a shared space) or to reinforce her child's trepidation by telling the little boy to go away.

piprabbit Fri 01-Feb-13 19:34:34

It's like when your child finds a new sort of vegetable on their plate unexpectedly and starts to wobble about it. You either encourage them to try a morsel before deciding they don't like it, or you whip it away and never let it darken their plate again.

FrustratedSycamoresRocks Fri 01-Feb-13 20:07:11

My dd doesn't wear her hearing aids at soft play, meaning that she cannot hear anything. I would be defensive if an adult kept telling my dd to "back down" and "give her space" IMO it's not a nice way to speak to a child.
That said I do often act as go-between to encourage interaction between dd and other children. But I don't follow her like a shadow, as she likes her independence. Obviously i would draw the line at her jumping on another child, any always watch her from a safe distance and step in when needed.
But any form of interaction or attempt to play with another child is a huge step for us, so if I heard another parent telling her to "back off" I would be slightly pissed off.

That said yanbu for wanting your dd to play alone, but yabu to speak to another child in this way and not expect his parent to react.

feministefatale Fri 01-Feb-13 20:13:46


hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 20:14:59

Sorry piprabbit, but some children (especially when they are only 2) just don't particularly want to 'make a friend' when they are playing, I really don't see why they should have to, if they are scared, as the op' little girl was.

With ds, I always explain simply that the child is just being friendly, and to say hello, but also explain to the other child that ds is shy and just wants to play on his own today.

gimmecakeandcandy Fri 01-Feb-13 20:15:24

I think you are getting harsh replies op but it would probably have been better to ask the dad to talk to him or when he did have a go at you explain the situation (stand up for yourself) not leave!

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 20:18:17

The OP isn't saying the father shouldn't have recated Frustrated, just that he shouldn't have been rude. He could have recated (when he first heard her ask him to move away) by asking his son to move away or explaining 'he's deaf, he can't hear what you're saying' or 'he has SN, he doesn't understand what you're saying' or 'he's just trying to play'.

CrapBag Fri 01-Feb-13 20:25:28

Sounds like you were being a helicopter parent and not giving your DD any space either tbh.

When I take my DD, I let her be as long as I know where she is and I can see her, not follow her around every where. Oh and as for my 5 year old, I would be sat down and let him come to me when he needed to, so you banging on about the dad not "interacting" with his DS, FFS! Get a grip.

I do think that the boy should have maybe listened when you wanted him to leave your DD alone but I also don't think you actually explained yourself properly to him. I doubt my DS would have understood the term 'give her some space', you snapped at a boy who was, by your own admission, being friendly because you didn't explain yourself properly. I don't think it makes you sound great really.

FrustratedSycamoresRocks Fri 01-Feb-13 20:34:58

outraged I get that the father shouldn't have been rude, but feel that the OP could spoken better to the child in the first place, as in used language that a young child could understand the meaning of.

fluffypillow Fri 01-Feb-13 20:36:25

Hmmm, this is a tricky one. I think the Dad was BU for not supervising his child, as I really feel that in places like this you need to make sure your DC is behaving appropriately and not being a pain in the arse to others.......


I do think you were a little U for not handling the situation better. Involving the child would have been a kinder way to do things. You often find older children can be really sweet to little ones, and they may have had a good time together if you had been a little more welcoming.

It seems you were too busy seething about what his Dad was doing (or not doing) that you took it out on the little boy.

I know it's hard when other children don't behave in the way you would like, but the reality is, your DD will meet all sorts of children (yes, boisterous boys a plenty!)as she grows up, and if you are there while she is little, and encourage her to mix and accept that children are different, and play in different ways, then she will be more accepting of others when she is older.

coldcupoftea Fri 01-Feb-13 20:40:00

Agree with the above- with a 5yo you need to be more direct,eg 'can you move over please so DD can get through! Thank you!' (in a bright and breezy nursery teacher voice!)

If it was me I would have probably taken DD off to play in the 0-2 section for a while, then if he followed you could say 'oh, this section is only for little childten, sorry, why don't you play in the big boys section'.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 20:40:10

I think that's a fair point frustrated, the little boy maybe didn't know what she meant, if the father had got involved earlier and used language that he knew his son did understand it would have been better all round. Maybe the OP isn't used to speaking to 5 years old? I doubt she was purposefully using language he couldn't understand.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 20:41:29

coldcup I think the OP has said there aren't different sections at this softplay.

Matildaduck Fri 01-Feb-13 20:49:23

Why do people go to these places? Seriously they are full of un supervised children.

PopMusic Fri 01-Feb-13 20:50:17

Children at five-ish don't know what a bit of space means tbh (teacher here). I don't think you were yabu tbh - you tried to be as polite as possible. Some kids just latch on don't they and have no concept of boundaries, or rather how to adapt to younger/smaller children - I see it all the time during free play and playground duty.

Dad was being unreasonable though.

PopMusic Fri 01-Feb-13 21:01:55

matildaduck these places are nightmares. Not only are a lot of children unsupervised but its children of all different ages/sizes in a state of excitement within a fairly enclosed space.

We only go because DS loves to. I feel I have to closely supervise him - a helicopter parent, if you will. Most children are lovely and I've seen older ones help the little ones (and I end up helping them too grin) but there are always a few who are too aggressive excited to care and its these children I have to keep my DS from because he gets very upset when they push him aside etc.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 21:22:24

Read your post again. It's ambiguous. I also think you are being unduly judgemental of a five-year old child hmm

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 21:28:58

It's really not. What did I say about the child that was 'unduly judgemental'? grin

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 21:29:11

crapbag - 'helicopter parent' - really! Op'dd is 2!

youmaycallmeSSP Fri 01-Feb-13 21:34:36

YWNBU but I would have approached the father before it got to that point. I also have a 2yo (boy) and it drives me nuts when I end up supervising someone else's child at soft play while the child's parent sits playing on their phone and drinking coffee. There is a balance between following an older child around getting in the way and ignoring them for 1.5 hours.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Sat 02-Feb-13 14:46:06

[no comment

ProphetOfDoom Sat 02-Feb-13 15:07:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CrapBag Sun 03-Feb-13 22:20:11

Yes Hazey. My DD is 2 as well and I don't hover around her in a soft play area in the day when it is quieter. Although there are only 2 where I live, 1 is small and I would know roughly where she is anyway and if not I would certainly hear her, the other one I wouldn't let her in the big area as it is too big for a 2 year old but has a large toddler area with a gate so I sit down and she is free to play. I can't see her 100% of the time but she will either be in a house or in the sensory bit if I can't actually see her at that time.

If the play area is that big that a 2 year old cannot go at least a little bit by themselves then its probably not age appropriate anyway.

hazeyjane Mon 04-Feb-13 09:52:02

It is great that your dd is happy to play with you at a distance, but some dcs aren't, and are happier having a parent close to them when they play, it doesn't make them a helicopter parent.

Hullygully Mon 04-Feb-13 09:57:39


he should have kept an eye and intervened at an earlier stage when it was clear your child wasn't happy.

That way his dc does begin to learn about space and boundaries.

CrapBag Mon 04-Feb-13 10:12:01

The DCs who aren't generally happy to play at a distance are usually the ones who have had the parent hovering around them all the time in general. They are then used to it so are not capable of playing without a parent there.

I am not saying that is whats happened in the OPs case but out of my group of friends who all have children, the ones who want and need constant adult input and attention are the ones whose parents haven't left them alone to develop playing independantly.

elizaregina Mon 04-Feb-13 10:39:17

sweeping generalisation there crap and maybe true in your case but certainly not true in mine,

I also helicopetered parent when my DD was two ish in these places becauses of children the op described but also ALOT worse - acts of true violence - I would happily sit next to the under 3's bit and watch her and get some time to read a magazine or just sit! HOwever because other paretns are not supervising in anyway - the older children ran rampage in the under three section.

Not everyone has a way with children and is able to talk to them appropriatly when needed - I used to feel extremly uncomfortable when in a situation where another persons child was causing a problem.

he should have kept an eye and intervened at an earlier stage

The whole "incident" only appears to have been 10 minutes, during which time the boy actually did very little other than try to play.

hazeyjane Mon 04-Feb-13 12:28:33

I think it is just personality, crapbag. Dd1 always wanted someone near her for reassurance, dd2 couldn't have cared less and would have nosedived into the middle of the ball pool in a heartbeat.

elizaregina Mon 04-Feb-13 12:37:36

I certainly watched out for my DD when younger - and she is the most socialble outgoing child ever - absoluty everyone notices it - she just wants to join in and go off - and do her own thing, she has never clung to my skirts.

PopMusic Mon 04-Feb-13 21:25:30

I don't agree with you crapbag - it's a bit of a sweeping statement. My DS is perfectly happy to play Independently but when there are lots of kids who are older and rougher and too excited to see young ones or stop and wait for them before pushing past, it can cause problems. I used to leave DS when it was a school day as hardly anyone was there who was older but now he is of a school age, I have no choice but to go round with him (he retaliates) Because we only go during the holidays or weekends. Plus he loves mummy going round with him.

I've also helped a lot of other children who either get stuck or who've been hurt by the older ones or defused situations. But then I'm a primary school teacher and I have no problems speaking to children about their behaviour grin

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