Dear Amy: I have a nephew who does not seem to know how to play with other children in an age-appropriate way. He is a 4-year-old who hits, kicks, pushes and bites. At our last family get-together he hit his 3-year-old cousin in the face. I had to break this up.

We would like to continue spending time with the family but don’t know what to do. In addition, his mother has never said a word to me about it, not even an apology when my son came home with bite marks on his arm. What do I do? — A Concerned Aunt

You need to monitor (and protect) your young son from this other child’s aggression. Being hit and bit can be terrifying for a young child. They should not play alone or at his house.

You don’t mention trying to talk to his mother about this, but you should. You start by saying, “I’m very concerned about ‘Barney.’ I’ve seen him be aggressive with other children. Have you talked to his pediatrician and teachers about this?”

Many medical (and other) problems can contribute to a child’s aggression. So can poor parenting and untold (or unseen) stresses on the child. You cannot solve this problem for the family, but you should alert them to it.

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Dear Amy: My friend recently started what she calls her “small business,” in which she sells sex toys on behalf of a company for a commission. She is hosting a few events in her home, where she tries to get her friends to come and spend lots of money to buy this overpriced junk. I have no need for what she is selling, but she is pressuring her friends to attend and buy things.

How can I politely decline without telling her I think this whole venture is predatory on her friends and provides an overpriced product that I don’t want to waste money on? — Upset Friend

It’s easy to politely decline. You just say, “I won’t be able to attend your party or buy these products, but good luck with your business.” Do not explain. Anyone selling sex toys must realize that there is a (somewhat) limited clientele for this sort of product.

I receive many queries from people like you who feel pressured to patronize these home-based commission businesses. I think it’s time for people embarking on these ventures to realize that this business model is a challenging one that requires people to trade on their personal relationships to build clientele and make money. Some people manage to do this fairly gracefully, but there is a fine line between being assertive and being pushy. If people are going to trade on their personal relationships, then they should also realize that they place these relationships in “play.” Responding politely should neutralize this challenge.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune