Dear Dad at soft play

Dear Dad at soft play,

I saw what happened on Sunday, I was watching it all. I saw as you looked up and your son came running to you saying “Daddy, that boy pulled my hair”, you looked concerned. And who wouldn’t. No one wants their child to be hurt by another child. But soft play areas get busy, especially on a cold Sunday morning, and tensions run high between the kids and sometimes these things happen. For so many different reasons. I heard you ask your son which little boy and as he pointed, I looked over and saw two little boys come down the slide with big smiles on their faces. Whatever the issue was with that child, it was clearly forgotten about.

But you couldn’t forget it. You couldn’t let it go, telling your son to stay away. Or approach the mother and ask her to watch her child. Instead, I heard you say something I really didn’t expect, I heard you tell your son “If he pulls your hair, push him back.”

Dear dad, you look like a nice guy. You’re well dressed, as is your kid. He came to you for comfort, he came to you for a cuddle, to tell you he’d been hurt. He wanted your reassurance, your love, your comfort. Your child needs to learn how to handle things without resorting to violence. Your child needs to learn that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. He needs to know that these things happen in soft play centres but that he should use his words and not his hands to retaliate. To tell the other child he didn’t appreciate it. To sort it out amicably.

We live in a world where violence is on our TV screens everyday…as much as we try to shelter our children, they will be exposed to it. They don’t need to be exposed to it by those that love them the most. He needed your guidance.

I didn’t say anything because your child looked like a good kid. I didn’t actually think he was going to act on it. He was fine (all his short hair in tact) and the other kid was off on the other side of the play centre.

But what happened after that shocked me even more. Your son sees the little boy approaching him, he turns to speak to you, you look away and in those 2 seconds that your head is turned, he pushes the little boy running past him, causing him to fall and hit his head. And then coincidentally you turn back, poker face!

And the little boy’s mother runs to scoop up her crying child with sadness in her eyes. Because she can’t understand why an older boy pushed her son, while standing right beside his dad, and his dad did nothing. She didn’t know her son pulled your son’s hair, you didn’t tell her you see, you didn’t clear the air.

I know you may think you’re teaching your kid to be tough, to fight back and defend himself. To be strong and take no shit! But what you don’t realise is, your kid gave you away dad. 15 minutes later he went up to that mother and said “I pushed him” and when the mother asked “Why did you push him?” your son responded “My daddy told me to, my daddy told me to do it!”

Children aren’t born vengeful, hurtful, racist. That’s all on us, it’s how we raise them. Parenting can be tough, we’re protective of the most precious people in our life BUT physical retaliation is never the answer.

Your child needed comfort, he needed reassurance, he needed love. That’s it!

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows



15 thoughts on “Dear Dad at soft play

  1. This gave me chills. Children are amazing; how wonderful that the child knew what he had done was wrong and went to say sorry even if his dad didn’t know the right thing to do. Beautifully written as always x

  2. Very powerful Natasha. Very sad. It’s these parents we need to protect our children from and their own children from. Nice to see the inherent quality of a child come out when he confessed. He is pure but sadly misguided. I hope this piece makes it to the press and it has the desired effect. Well done.

  3. Ick. I vividly remember being given similar advice by my parents when I was little and some lads at school were picking on me. It did get them to stop picking on me but it’s not the option I’ll be teaching my own kiddo.


  4. its sad to see this but seems it’s happening more and more. It’s best to go up and confront the father politely in the hope he doesn’t do it again.

  5. I don’t know about the ages in question here but I must be the only one that agrees with the push back?! The father did not say to ‘hit back’ but to push back. I think its wrong the particular time that the boy did it so his fathers ‘advice’ obviously confused him that’s why I’m asking the ages.
    I personally think children have to be taught their are consequences for their actions. I agree with the statement that if everybody did an eye for an eye the world be blind but at the same time the world can go blind by not poking back and the original perpetrator carrying on poking eyes out if that makes sense. Sometimes to react back, be it a push or verbally saying ‘don’t do that’ makes the other person reevaluate their actions don’t you think?
    I could be totally wrong! I just did not seem to agree with everyone saying the dad was in the wrong.

    • Hi Gemma, firstly thanks for commenting even though your view is different. I do see what you’re saying and I definitely think we shouldn’t allow anyone to just hurt us without repercussions. But the child who pushed the other child was 5 and the child who was pushed was 3-4. Also the dad didn’t actually see his son’s hair being pulled, he just went with what he was told and his advice was go and push that child back. The push happened a good 10 minutes later. In my opinion if he thought his child was badly hurt, he should have confronted the Mother or even approached the child. I’ve approached children before if I see them picking on S. And I tell S to defend himself by saying “Stop that, that’s not nice” which I’ve now seen him do.

      • Yes that makes sense. I don’t agree with the pushing later. The problem should of been dealt with at the time. The dad should of gone with his child to the other child and asked for an apology for the hair pulling.
        Also when the dad turned around and saw his kid push the other I would of told him for that.

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