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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.

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.

NotADragonOfSoup Fri 01-Feb-13 11:54:15

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.

NotADragonOfSoup Fri 01-Feb-13 11:55:48

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.

PureQuintessence Fri 01-Feb-13 12:04:05


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.

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