I never know how to respond when I encounter ill mannered kids at the playground. ESP when their parents say nothing!!
To be fair to these children, their parents (or caregivers) deserve all the blame. Playgrounds are not holding pens for kids to cut loose while Mommy, Daddy or Nanny yap on the cell phone. This lack of supervision deprives a child the opportunity to socialize positively with other children, and robs him or her of the caregiver’s love and attention.
So what to do when someone else’s kid is a brat? I don’t know. In the incident described, I bullied the boy because he bullied my kid, and immediately everything I ever learned from "The Dog Whisperer" about asserting dominance flooded my mind. Besides, his behavior ran longer than a supervising parent or caregiver would tolerate (that’s to say, he wasn’t supervised), and his nudging was escalating to shoving. So I gave him shhht.
If the boy hadn’t touched The Boss, or if his complacent caregiver were nearby, I might have responded differently. Who knows.