Boost your child’s self confidence at your local soft play centre

Guest Blog by Little B and Me

Soft Play is a place some parents take their children to let off all that excess energy while they get to have some time to enjoy a coffee or cake. Maybe even both sometimes! It’s far too easy to forget that soft play can provide so much more for children; whilst it can be used to let off steam it can also be a fantastic tool to boost a child’s self confidence.


Let’s start with independence; soft play is a fantastic and most importantly safe place to boost your child’s independence.

Soft play offers a safe and open environment where a child can run around completely carefree.

Its bright & interesting colours, hidden places, slides and wacky stairs make a tempting sight to children, somewhere that entices exploring and is welcoming to a child’s eyes.

Their independence may not increase straight away but with a few visits to the same soft play a marked difference in your child will be noticeable. Don’t push them; let them work at their own pace. Enjoy the time when they want you to run around and play with them! Too soon it will be gone.

My son’s independence took off on a recent trip to 360 Play in Stevenage, he went from a boy who begged me to follow him everywhere & cried if I didn’t, to a boy who wanted to try new things & cried if I dared to follow him around! This was all in one soft play trip.

Social Skills

Next up, social skills. This isn’t such an issue for children of school age but toddlers like my son sometimes find it difficult to find other children their own age to socialise with, especially ones that are into the similar things.

This is where soft play can come in exceptionally handy. Depending on what time you go you’ll figure out the type of age group that will be there, we usually head over around 11am & it’s all toddlers! Perfect for my son to interact with. Time is how you will gauge what age range will be in there.

You will tend to notice that when another child see’s a child their own age playing with something they tend to be drawn to it, this in turn usually means they will interact in one way or another. Age dependent this could be talking, sharing or making up games. My son, for instance, quietly engages & shares with other children at the ball vacuum at our local 360 Play.

Remember, ‘social skills’ doesn’t mean just talking so YES your baby could thrive at soft play as well!


Now for experimentation. Some children are less open to trying new things or experimenting with things that they can already do. Being in a situation where they see plenty of other children doing different things encourage them to try.

For instance, my son flat out refuses to go on slides; however once he has seen a few children happily going on the slides he is far more open to trying it.

You would be surprised of exactly how much of a boost it is for your child to see another child doing something they are hesitant of trying or have never thought about trying before. Even as an adult, we are more tempted to do something if we see someone else doing it.

We are exceptionally lucky to have such an amazing local soft play, 360 is where my boy plucked up the courage to try out new things. He now has a huge love of carousels; unfortunately I don’t share the love due to a balance problem.

Make sure to be aware though this may not always be a good thing, my son has watched other children walk up slides & now he tries it. Be aware of this fact and let your child know when the thing they are doing isn’t a good idea.

Problem Solving

Last but certainly not least, problem solving. Lots of soft play venues have activities dotted around that have a problem solving element to them or indeed you could make your own situation up for your child.

Being able to solve something all by yourself is a huge confidence boost, it gives you hope & belief in yourself. Imagine how much of a boost that will be for your child.

At my local 360 play there are lots of problem solving activities to take part in. If you don’t have a soft play that offers problem solving activities I recommend making your own up.

For instance, tell your child that they need to get a ball from the top of the play frame all the way to the bottom without using their hands.

There are a few ways they can complete this task, it’s fun for them to decide which one suit them best & it’s a fabulous boost for them when they solve the problem you’ve given them.

Whichever problem you choose let your child solve it on their own, advise them along the way if they need it but when they realise they solved the problem alone it will be a huge boost to their self confidence.

Little B and Me was inspired to write this blog after a visit to 360 Play and we are really proud to be mentioned. We hope you enjoyed reading it. You can find more great parenting blogs over on the Little B and Me website

Deadbeat Dad and Promises of Bogey Burgers

When I promised my son a bogey burger, I thought there was an understanding that I neither have the sufficient stock of bogies to actually make the burger and that even if I did I would not actually give it to him.

So when he and his friend came for their much planned dinner (which seemed to require the type of cross-parental co-ordination normally reserved for an SAS mission), they were presented with chicken nuggets rather than the much vaunted green patties and as soon as I placed that beige feast in front of them, I could see their faces melt into disappointment as they looked on their feast a little like you’d view a pair of socks unwrapped on Christmas morning (useful but ultimately not what the gig is about).

‘Look, guys, bogey burgers, they’re not real,’ I said, covering my back.

Like being on the end of an argument you’re never going to win, the response came….


Instant crushing guilt!

What made me make a promise to one so young and then so wilfully break it without missing a heartbeat? Am I becoming another lazy deadbeat dad that all of those Hollywood films have told me not to be? (Okay, let’s glaze over the fact that it was chicken nuggets for dinner and not hand reared avocado, free range broccoli and Greenpeace endorsed chicken breast).

It made me think about what we promise and what we deliver for our children. A passing word here, a phrase there, it might seem fleeting, but words stick and actions (or lack of them) are remembered.  I still recall being promised a fishing trip with my dad; the chance to play with the fantasy fishing rods I’d long admired in the pages of the Argos catalogue. It was a small promise, nothing major, just a few words said in passing and quickly forgotten – but one that was never fulfilled (I know, I need to get over it thirty years on).

The promise to my boy was easy to fix. Baked avocado on the next dinner menu (the better choice vs my initial idea of green iced burger) and chocks away, one happy kid (not that he ate it of course – he was never going to).

But what is a promise between a parent and child? When does it become a bond, a bind between two people? Should it be that a promise only counts when that child reaches the age of 18 and can understand the full weight of what a promise means?  Surely promising a bogey burger doesn’t count as a real promise?  Or does it? A child’s understanding differs wildly from that of the fully evolved version of the species, so who knows what weird logic goes through those little heads. Besides, I’m constantly let down by own child’s promises to me (he promised not to come into my bed in the night and steal the duvet  being the latest), so is it not fair that this is returned?

Sadly not, a promise in this arena is sacred because it is the first steps in teaching trust. Sure, a promise missed here or there can be explained away or usually resolved with a touch of green icing, but be careful how many you break, particularly if you want them to believe in your word. Next time I will be a little more careful in my language, replacing ‘promise’ with ‘we’ll do our best’ (surely the motto for any parent). And as a final thought, avoid bogey burgers this Halloween; there are easier and tastier gruesome food tips!