How can a kind child stand up against a bossy kid who obliges the child to play exclusively with them?
Answer by Thomas Zerbarini:
This sounds like indirect bullying to me. It sounds like the controlling child has not been taught to include others and is not comfortable around others.
If it were my child, I would talk to them about what a good friend means and what a not good friend means.
I would talk about how important it is to have more than one friend. To interact, play and share with others is a good thing and nobody should make you feel bad about that.
I would emphasize that it is important to include others and be friendly to others, especially those that are alone, shy, single out, teased, etc… Nobody wants to be left out and being left out hurts feelings.
I'll also explain that it is okay to have one on one time with a friend, but not all the time. You should spend time one on one with other children to build your friendships.
Children and friends can be a difficult thing to navigate sometimes. Kids can be mean to each other one day and best friends the next. I have had talks with my kids about that very issue. I simply said that they can share their feelings with their friends when they are being mean and say that you need to take a time out from your friendship for a little while. Amazingly, it worked and my kids handled it incredibly well. To help, I would spend a little special time doing some activity with them and even helped them call and set up play dates with their other friends.
I think the most important thing is to teach our children that a bossy friend is not good behavior and maybe not a good friend.