Confidence to bob around, try new things & experiment was something we were still struggling with up until our latest trip to our favourite soft play 360 Play, Stevenage.
Being independent & accepting other children being around
B is obsessed with this ball vacuum at 360 so that was our first stop. I was quite surprised that after a while he warmed to other kids being around & wanting to interact with the same things he was playing with. He is now quite aware of the cause & effect of this ‘game’ & absolutely loves it. So much so that I think we probably spent at least an hour in this area.
Some parents may not be as happy with this result but the fact B wasn’t asking me to constantly take part or help him was a huge relief to me. Relief because he is finally confident enough to try & do things on his own, when I did take part I was told off.
Up our jump game!
I managed to pull B away & get him to trial the baby/toddler area, there were lots of babies around so we had to avoid them.
B has, on the whole, outgrown this area. I have found it great for reintroducing him to things that he’s struggling with. For instance, he found the ballpit to be a fantastic place to practice his jumping & landing. I am more than happy for him to do it in there because its a safe area to experiment, as long as no other children are around.
B finds hiding quite a struggle, he seems to feel very uncomfortable & scared. In the ball pit though he allowed me to cover him over & found it quite funny!
Hide & seek is now a popular game, sadly catapulting off the sofa is now a favourite also. He has however learned to correctly land so I can’t worry too much.
Increasing B’s building capability
B doesn’t need much help with confidence for building but increasing it can never hurt. We decided to trial this out in the building block area & the sand pit!
The sandpit was completely empty which meant we had full run of the area & could do as we pleased. It was a lovely deep sandpit, it was just very dry! We tried out best & had lots of fun trying to build castles together. It was also quite a nice bonding experience.
I found the building blocks a bit of an issue as B was intent on building towers & then pushing them down into my face. He found this hilarious.
I can’t complain as he loved it.
Running off alone to explore has always been a no no in B’s books, its something he would bawl his eyes out if I previously tried. This trip however was to be different in many ways, one being that B told me to ‘GO AWAY’ and ran off alone to explore.
He did 3 or 4 loops of the big play area & came back so pleased with himself. It was so amazing to me as even at friends houses he wants my hand to go & find a toy, but here my boy was off running around alone, telling me he didn’t need me!
I’m praying this is a sign of things to come & that he will be happier in future at friends houses & soft play.
Trying new things
Trying new things has always been a massive issue for B, he always thinks he doesn’t like something without giving it a chance. As a result B has never been on rides, he claims he ‘don’t like it’ (His words not mine).
This was another experience that was set to surprise me, 360 Play in Stevenage have a rather amazing, FREE, carousel. B saw it & asked to go on it, I have issues with my inner ear but forced myself to get on as he was too small to go on alone.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, my nervous boy was giggling away & was loving it.
The lady let me off & my little B stayed on for 3 goes all on his own! It helped that the lady doing the carousel was amazing with B, she spoke to him & showered him with attention & praise. Its clear to see she loves her job!
So here are some ideas of how you can use soft play to boost your child’s confidence
• Ease them into it gently. If you want them to try something new make sure you don’t push them too hard & try to make the transition effortless. For example, let them play in an area where they are comfortable & then ask them if they’d like to look around to see what else is around.
• Show them its safe by taking part too. If my son sees myself or another child doing something he is more likely to try the activity himself.
• If your child is of ‘toddler’ age I’d recommend going at an off peak time so they have more chance of getting on equipment & experimenting without older kids getting in their way & putting them off.
•Have an open mind, if they struggle don’t be put off. Let them enjoy their experience. You may just find it helps them want to try new things.
•Dream up games so its not just a case of them aimlessly walking or running around. Get them to explore for hidden creatures, hide an item & get them to find it, you could even pretend the ball bit is the open sea. When children have their mind on another task they sometimes do things they wouldn’t have done otherwise.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, I enjoyed writing it.
Lots of love,