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Pay attention to your child: notice their qualities

soft play notice their qualities
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Pay attention to your child: notice their qualities

soft play notice their qualities
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Pay more attention to child! “Oh, here we go” you’re thinking, “here comes someone else judging me for my parenting choices!” For taking a few moments to yourself or enjoying a rare uninterrupted conversation with a friend while your child runs off some steam at the soft play centre. Don’t worry, this is not what you think! I’m with you 100% in needing a break. However, what I’m asking is that once in a while you take the time to really see what they’re doing and notice your child’s qualities developing!


This is, I think, is often particularly noticeable at soft play. At soft play our children can climb, jump and move in ways they often aren’t allowed to at home. I’m sure I’m not alone in comparing a soft-play centre to hell on earth. I think it’s a combination of the relentless pop music, bright colours, noisy over-excited children dashing around and junk food smells that is completely overstimulating for me, a fully grown adult. So it’s hard to imagine how it must feel for a small child. Toddlers experience the world in a highly vivid fashion; they’re multi-sensory creatures who can very easily become overstimulated. So, I get it when kids push each other over because they’re overwhelmed. I completely see where their behaviour comes from.

Those aren’t the behaviours that interest me, though. What I want to talk about are my kid’s behaviours and qualities that I never usually notice. The behaviours that we never see because we’re on the defensive in case our kids have an altercation. We’re anticipating our child pushing someone over at any moment, throwing a ball pool ball in someone’s face or just generally requiring some parental mediation or refereeing.

Notice their qualities

What is going on when parental input isn’t required? What do our children get up to then? Well let me tell you something, they’re amazing! I spent this morning at soft play, and for once I made a conscious effort to watch my son; to really watch attentively, not just defensively; to watch him but also the other children around him. I noticed him working really hard on a specific physical skill, tweaking his technique to make his behaviour more efficient. He practised it over and over to perfect the skill before moving onto something else. I never saw him give up when the going got tough, he just persisted until he mastered the skill.

sharing take turns notice qualities

That’s a pretty awesome quality that I’d be very proud to see him carry through to adulthood. I noticed him collaborating with his peers, working as a team to all help each other up a slope that was just a little bit big for them. They were communicating, formulating plans, testing methods and readjusting them until they had solved the problem. Every single kid involved demonstrated a huge list of amazing skill and qualities. I saw turn-taking behaviours without anyone making them share, I noticed compromises, consideration, compassion and intelligence; qualities any parent would be proud to see.

Offer recognition of the qualities you notice

Our children are truly amazing, and if we’re constantly just fire-fighting and reacting to the drama, we’re potentially missing out on seeing our children for who they really are, and what they are really capable of. As we were getting our shoes and coats on ready to leave, I had such a great conversation with my son. I told him how I had noticed him helping the little girl up the slope, and we talked about how helpful and thoughtful he was. I told him I was really proud of him, and that he should feel proud of himself too.

As we were leaving the lady at reception asked if he’d had a good time, and you know what he said to her? “I helped the little girl up the slope, I’m a helpful boy.” A pretty awesome take home message for him in my opinion.

Children want to be noticed, and to receive recognition. When we watch them and offer commentary back about what they are doing, we are validating them. We are demonstrating our interest in them, acknowledging that their actions have meaning, and that as people they have worth. We are nurturing the connection that exists between ourselves and them, and we are also nurturing the amazing qualities our children possess.

Our children come with incredible qualities: look and see

As parents, we often feel it is our job to teach our children: to teach them to care for others and teach them concern and empathy. But a little newsflash for you, children are born good. They are born with an innate tendency towards caring for and connecting with others. They also already have inbuilt qualities such as persistence, ambition, drive, confidence, resilience, compassion… The list goes on.  It’s not necessary to teach them, these traits are already built in, they just need recognising and nurturing. But to recognise them we have to notice them, and to notice them we first have to observe. So, next time you’re at soft play (and indeed anywhere else), a polite request: please keep a closer eye on your child. ​​

Hannah Cartledge- CalmFamily Sheffield and South Yorkshire

I’m Hannah, I live in Sheffield with my two children (1 and 2 years old) my husband, a cat and four chickens. I’ve been running CalmFamily Sheffield and South Yorkshire for a little while now. Children are only small for such a short time though, so I’m trying to enjoy it rather than wish it away!

I read the BabyCalm book while pregnant with my first. As I’m sure a lot of adults have, I’ve carried quite a bit of baggage from my childhood and the way that I was parented. I knew that I wanted to do things differently. Reading BabyCalm I just thought “Yes! There is another way, and this is it!”. Everything in it just seemed to make so much sense to me. A parenting concept that treats children fairly, compassionately, unconditionally and with the respect that they deserve. Why wasn’t everyone aware of this stuff? So I kept reading, and finished ToddlerCalm too. And then I really thought, everyone HAS to know this. This information could truly change the world. So that’s when I searched online to see if I could train to teach classes in these topics, and the rest as they say is history!

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Being a parent, Child learning & development, Parents & families, Toddler development, Toddler play
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