Protecting Kids Who Want To Play

My daughter’s fifth birthday was a big deal. Jenny has had health problems, but is alright now. Nevertheless, the whole horrible experience made us value our children, and life, all the more.

For her birthday, she was allowed to pick what we did. She chose a local play place which she loves, called Pandamonium in Erskine. Close family came along, which included aunts, grandparents and cousins. They were having a whale of a time.

Protecting KidsAfter we’d been there a while, I looked over to see Jenny talking to her aunt. A small boy walked past and I heard her aunt shout at him. I jumped up to see what had happened. The boy had apparently smacked Jenny across the face, twice. She hadn’t been talking to him or interacting with him. She just happened to be there when he walked past. Her face was burning red.

I saw the boy at a long table with a bunch of mums. I went over and asked who the child’s mother was. A woman turned around and said she was the boy’s mum. I explained that her boy had, unprovoked, slapped Jenny a couple of times. The woman was not bothered at all.

She said “I’m sure it was done with no malice. He’s only two”. An apology was spat out, but its insincerity just riled me up.


I understand the boy is only two. Two year olds do that – it’s a fact of life. Kids will be kids. What’s important – and how the child learns – is that when it does happen, you tell them that what they did is wrong.

What made me so angry here was the mother’s attitude. She made me feel like an idiot. So, here I was, in an extremely awkward situation and feeling the anger rise. My mind was racing.

Keep things in context, I thought. Jenny was shocked but she wasn’t crying, but I am fiercely protective. Had the woman apologised sincerely or looked remorseful then I would have probably accepted it and moved on. This lady, however, hadn’t even spoken to her son to tell him that what he did was wrong.

So, I’ve got the devil on my shoulder saying “what would Tony Soprano do?” and giving me mental images of pouring a jug of blackcurrant juice into her handbag and over her head. Actually, Tony would probably send folk around to her house with baseball bats. That’s probably a tad excessive.

I don’t want to ruin Jenny’s day so I just walk away.

Jenny’s cousins took her away and she played. You have to understand, Jenny wouldn’t hurt a fly. If there’s ever someone that’s upsetting her, she doesn’t lash out. She comes and tells us. Every time.


Two days later, we were at a restaurant with a soft play area. We hadn’t been there long when I turned in time to see my other young daughter, Eve, get her face scratched by another child. I went to see her. She was upset and had a cut next to her eye.

I was furious. Eve isn’t like Jenny. Eve can defend herself a bit, but this time she was too shocked. Despite this, I didn’t want to take her out the soft play and I didn’t want to see her dad make a big deal, so I let her go back. I told Eve’s cousins to keep an eye out for the boy who did it.

This has left me thinking a great deal about how to best deal with the situation. I’m genuinely stumped, for a number of reasons.

Ideally, I’d like to be able to just tell the child’s parents about what had happened and have them deal with it, but (as is detailed above), some parents just don’t care. Eve wouldn’t lash our herself, but she would defend herself physically if it came down to it. That causes me stress because I don’t want to be the one facing an angry parent, no matter who hit who first.

My children should not have to miss out on soft play because of the actions of some horrible kids, so avoiding these places is a no-no.

Protecting Kids

I settled on standing right next to the play area and watching as the kids played. It probably looked quite over-bearing but it gave my kids the confidence to enjoy themselves. The other children seemed to be aware of an adult presence and certainly seemed less wild with me there.

It’s difficult, finding a balance. A balance between letting the kids go and have fun, and wanting to stand over them all the time. The more independence they get, the quicker they’ll learn things for themselves. I’ll just be there for when they need me, and I think that’s (hopefully) one of the things that makes for a decent parent.

Edit: I understand this is a hot topic. I’m curious as to how you would deal with the situation I was in…


  1. 18 August 2016

    It is tough as our little ones grow and develop they have to get use to interacting with others and learning what’s right and wrong. LOL My little one is so loving he just wants to hug other little ones ha ha ha 🙂 Which is so darn cute!!! 🙂

  2. 18 August 2016

    What a piece of ____ (I’m leaving that blank) although I can think of a number of nasty words to call that 2-year-old, not to mention the mum. She could’ve at least asked her little boy to apologise. What is she teaching her son? That it’s okay to just hit someone without any reason? If that’s the case, scary world we live in. Sigh.

    • 18 August 2016

      What the kid did was wrong but he was two. Two year olds don’t know their boundaries. It was the mum that really riled me. Still, her punishment will be having to deal with a child with no idea of how to behave.

  3. 18 August 2016

    I can’t believe some parents will not tell their children that what they have done is wrong. Children need clear limits on their behaviour!

  4. Tim Carlisle
    18 August 2016

    AS you say some children (all children) have big emotions. Some don’t deal with it well – and lash out. I know my boy has been that child, occasionally he still is – although it’s almost always with his big sister who is twice his age (he’s four now).

    But here’s the thing – you are right to be angry with the parents. Very rarely has my boy done anything to anyone he didn’t know (in fact I don’t think I can think of any situation) – and he does get frustrated when people take things away from him (he’s small for his age), but when he was going through this phase I kept an eye on him. If we were at a soft play place – I made sure I could see him.

    Young children will do wrong things – that is a fact of life. They aren’t any worse than other children they just struggle more.

    But that doesn’t make it ok. That doesn’t mean it’s alright for them to lash out. And any parent SHOULD deal with it.

    When my boy lashed out in frustration I took him out of the play equipment. I talked to him – I probably yelled at him occasionally if he did it twice. But I made sure he knew it was wrong. He would have a time out – a chance to calm down and stop being hot headed. And then we’d go and talk to the person he had hurt. We’d apologise together, we’d make it clear that what he had done was wrong and was his fault.

    He is so much better now, sometimes he gets it wrong still – but more often than not these days he is the one getting flattened. A few months ago we were at a play place. A boy who was maybe 10 decided to bully my boy. He is four remember. He was pushing him, any time my boy found a ball – he took it and pushed him over. That wasn’t ok either. I couldn’t see a parent who cared what was going on – and I immediately ran in and grabbed my boy. I told that child off, and told him to go away from us. I did it calmly – children need to know that at the end of the day Daddy (or Mummy) is in control and not losing it!

    I hugged him, I talked to him, I told him that what the boy did wasn’t ok. That he shouldn’t have done it . I got off the play equipment and saw the 8 year old with his parents. I had dealt with it – I didn’t need to talk to them – and yet the parents gave me nothing but death stares and angry looks. I couldn’t believe it. Their child – who was old enough to know better had done something wrong – and yet it seemed that the parents thought it was me who had.
    I was so angry.

    Parents need to take responsibility. Children are too young to. But parents should. Personally I think that if a child is bad in a play place – and the adults are not looking after them, they are not supervising them they ought to be asked to leave.

    Sadly too many seem to go to these places so they can drink coffee and eat cake with their friends and chat without having to worry what their kids are doing.

    That’s not right.

    • 18 August 2016

      “children need to know that at the end of the day Daddy (or Mummy) is in control and not losing it”

      You’re so right. I do see red. I will have to do more about taking a deep breath and not letting my protective instincts make me go overboard!

  5. I can totally relate to this. It infuriates me how some people let their child run wild and have no clue what they are doing or are not bothered in the slightest.
    If someone told me that my daughter had hit someone I would be mortified and apologise profusely, and make her leave.
    I had an instance in Butlins this year I looked up at the softplay and saw a boy choke slam my daughter. No exaggeration! My total primal instinct took and I shouted at the top of my lungs ‘oi! Get off her!’ – he was so surprised and did, I was actually pretty mortified as I had shouted so damn loud, lol. They don’t let parents in but I made them, but the boy had disappeared. Nightmare!

    • 18 August 2016

      I’d be happier to hear someone shouting than the alternative, which is people completely ignoring their kids and letting them run riot!

  6. I cannot believe the amount of parents who do not seem to teach their children right from wrong. It bewilders me.

  7. 18 August 2016

    Sadly this does happen and it has happened to my children too. I think it is a learning curve for us all, it teaches the kids that there are some not so nice people out there and maybe helps us to teach them how to deal with it. It is awful though.

  8. 19 August 2016

    It is very tough you don’t want to be too protective but then again teaching them right from wrong is so important.

  9. I had an issue at a friends BBQ the other day. They had a bouncy castle and my kids were in it with many other kids. It got a bit rough and I was so worried, I stood in front watching the whole time.

  10. 19 August 2016

    Well this was his mum responsibility to try to avoid this incident but I guess this is how they learn.

  11. 19 August 2016

    I remember my children being little and others hurting them, it is so hard to know what is best as all you want to do is protect them from horrible children..

  12. 19 August 2016

    It really upsets me how many parents don’t tell their kids what is right and wrong. Lucas is 18 months and I already tell him as he is learning from a 2 year old at his childminders that isn’t told x

  13. 23 August 2016

    Oh Grant, this sounds so horrible – I’m not surprised you almost lost it. I’d be the same. I like to think if anyone EVER tells me my child has behaved inappropriately in the future I’ll have words with him. Even at two, children know (or should know!) the difference between what’s right and wrong. Isn’t that what we ought to be teaching them as parents?
    Hope both Jenny and Eve are okay, and they’re lucky to have you watching out for them!

  14. 25 August 2016

    I hate when moms give that look to people like “Go away, what do you want?”. Their kids are NOT the best and neither are them. Of course that’s what 2 year old do, but the mom’s attitude should be completely different.

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