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"All My Friends Get to..."

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My husband and I have agreed that our sons, aged four and six, are too little to play in the road. We reside in a quiet suburban street, but there are cars coming and going all day long. All of my children's friends are permitted to play in the road and this is putting pressure on my children to join them. They are now being excluded from the group. I have invited all the kids to play in our yard -- they come occasionally. The parenting styles of the other families are very laid back and I am more into safety, and supervision. How do I deal with this situation without seeming too strict?

A: Children ages four and six are awfully young to play in the road. Requiring your boys to play in the yard while supervised is both reasonable and prudent. Stick to your beliefs and don't allow pressure from the other parents to sway you.

You will probably not be able to convince your neighbors to set the same rules, so continue to invite the other children to your yard to play. Make sure that your yard is a place the others want to come so that they will continue to play with your sons. Turning on the sprinkler, organizing games or scavenger hunts, and offering juice and cookies may help make your yard more attractive. Let the other parents know that you don't mind having their children over and that you will be there to supervise, and they will most likely encourage their children to come to your house.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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