If your child is young enough that you are in charge of his or her social calendar, you can always stop making play dates. But if you value the relationship with the parent, this can strain, if not ruin, that relationship too, Hoffman says.

“If your friend pushes you about getting together, you can … say something like, ‘Your son is really rough and aggressive, and he scares my son,'” says Elizabeth J. Short, PhD, a psychology professor and the associate director of the Schubert Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

You can also take steps to control the play environment.

“Make sure you are present to monitor the play dates so that all kids stay safe,” Short says. For example, she suggests that you host the play date if you’re uncomfortable with other options.

“If you think your kid is at risk, then I would not take a second chance,” Short says. “Always be open-minded, but when you feel it might jeopardize your child’s safety, go with your instinct because instincts don’t lie.”

 

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