Play­ground ag­gres­sive­ness

Los Angeles Times - - COMICS - Send ques­tions for Amy Dickinson by email to askamy@amy­dick­in­son.com.

Dear Amy: My wife and I have a 5-year-old son who has vi­sion and hear­ing dis­abil­i­ties but is very so­cial. He doesn’t al­ways pick up on so­cial cues, but is al­ways in­ter­ested in meet­ing new friends, and his mom and I en­cour­age this.

How­ever, oc­ca­sion­ally we run into chil­dren at the park, mu­seum, etc., that are less than kind. Most of­ten these kids don’t have an adult su­per­vis­ing them, or if they do, they’re drink­ing wine at a pic­nic ta­ble a hun­dred yards away.

I’m won­der­ing what the proper re­sponse is for a child (that isn’t mine) who is go­ing up the slide back­ward while other kids are com­ing down, or throw­ing bark in the face of a child who has al­ready re­quested that he stop. I’ve tried your usual, bal­anced, pa­tient tone, but typ­i­cally it leads to more ag­gres­sion Pri­or­ity Par­ent

Dear Par­ent: You su­per­vise your son closely, and given his chal­lenges this is im­por­tant. Young chil­dren will of­ten try to push bound­aries on the play­ground, and this is one vi­tal func­tion of play. But a child also needs to learn to re­spect ba­sic safety rules.

If a child is climb­ing up the slide while oth­ers are com­ing down and you don’t see an adult nearby, you should say, “Hi there. You shouldn’t climb back­ward up the slide be­cause the other kids are try­ing to slide down. Use the stairs, OK?” If the child hears you, con­sid­ers his op­tions, and con­tin­ues the be­hav­ior, you should ask, “Do you have a grownup with you?” Find out where the adult is, and ask the adult, “Could you move closer to the slide? I think your child needs some closer su­per­vi­sion.”

If a child is throw­ing bark at another child and no other adult is present, you should say, “You know we don’t throw bark. You need to find a dif­fer­ent way to play.” Many par­ents are tol­er­ant of hav­ing oth­ers step in with re­spect­ful cor­rec­tions, but if a par­ent re­sponds with ag­gres­sion, you should back away, and you should never touch another child, un­less you are sav­ing him from harm.

Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I have a great re­la­tion­ship. From the get-go, we have had open com­mu­ni­ca­tion and my girl­friends have ad­vised me to “make your own re­la­tion­ship rules,” and we do.

He pays for most of our dates, but some­times I take him out. I also open my own car door and some­times hold the door for him when walk­ing into a build­ing. I find noth­ing wrong with any of this.

My par­ents feel that he should be open­ing all car and build­ing doors for me, as well as pay­ing for any and all meals and ac­tiv­i­ties.

I feel that how we han­dle pay­ing for dates is our choice. But we will be ad­here to these “rules” when around my par­ents, in or­der to not make waves.

Do you think this is the right thing to do? Happy

Dear Happy: Um, no. I think your par­ents let­ting you ad­here to your own re­la­tion­ship rules is the right thing (for them) to do.

You don’t say how old you are, but I sug­gest that you run your healthy re­la­tion­ship how­ever you want to. You could dis­cour­age your par­ents’ com­ments by learn­ing how to draw some bound­aries and by as­sur­ing them only of your hap­pi­ness. Tell them, “Mom, dad — I’ve got this.”

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