14 answers

Daughter Has a Bossy Sometimes Mean Friend What Should I Do?

I am hoping for motherly and or professional advice with this issue. my daughter has a little friend the same age as her. i think of my daughter as a sweet, gentle, soft spoken, shy, giving and loving person. of course most people feel this way.. but i truly think this.. the friend is bossy, unpredictable with her feelings, rough, excited and does'nt show much emotion. when both girls come together the friend will automatically start to boss her into what they should do... my daughter at the beginning would just go along with whatever she would say but since the start i have talked with her about standing your ground and letting her friend know how she feels and if she does'nt want to do what she requests that she does not have to so my daughter has been a bit more confident and vocal about what she wants. still not enough, the friend will sometimes grab her arm and pull her to where she wants to go, hug her to the point where they both fall but my daughter on the bottom being squished, tugged at if she has something off hers that she quickly decides she does'nt want my daughter to play with. my daughter has become frustrated, so she has started to say to her you can not be my friend anymore... and the friend would run to her mom crying saying that my daughter said something mean to her, the crying is fake by the way...there are times that they get along fine but mostly if i am there alone with them... bottom line the friend is mean to my girl and it leaves my daughter with a blank confused look on her face like she doesnt understand why someone would treat her this way. could this be a normal thing between friends and or could it be a way for my daughters confidence to be built and be able to handle tough relationships in the long run..... i truly feel that it is hurting my daughters core and has frustrated her to the point that she is starting to act out with scratching people when she does'nt get what she wants or just feels plain frustrated.... i feel that the thought of their friendship for each other is great until they actually stand in front of each other! what to do?

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I have the same issue. Depending on who we are with my son (4) is sometimes the bossy mean one and sometimes the one being 'attacked'. He cries when it's him and I remind him of that when he's bossy. But I always say the same thing, "Mommy isn't in charge of how you play, you two need to sort it out or we have to leave"

I feel they need to learn to deal with this or what will they do in school? Our parents just left us alone and my mom always told me to sort it out amongst yourselves even when I was small (with two older brothers).

Good luck!

Is this a child of a close friend or near by neighbor? If not, then I would find a new playmate that is more compatible with your daughter's personality. However, if this is a person your daughter sees/will see at school or has to live near or is a child of a close personal friend of Mom, then she needs to learn how to be together. I agree if this happens in your home speak directly to the child that mean behavior is totally unacceptable in your home and she will be sent home immediately. Be her teacher, explain what it is that is mean and why. Then send her home, explaining that she can try again another day. When she understands you are serious the behavior may change! Maybe setting a timer and taking turns to lead play, OK "ABBY" now it 's "Sara's" turn to choose. You can choose when the timer rings the next time. Help the "mean" child learn what a good friend is, after all I assume she is only four too! Have a snack and ask what makes a good friend and why. Chances are she has no idea and perhaps she needs to be aggressive to get attention at home. Playing together is a learning opportunity for young children. Parents need to guide that learning process! Good luck.

I am very sorry to say that my sweet, gentle, angelic almost five year old daughter sometimes behaves like your daughter's "friend." I take care of a friend's daughter, so my daughter and our little playmate (who is almost 3) play together constantly, 3 days a week, and have done for almost three years. She never behaves this way with anyone else. They're almost sisters, and I think that is why she does it. And it's mortifying for me, and a big challenge! What is required is that the little girl gets quick, consistent discipline EVERY SINGLE TIME. So my first question is, does the mother know? You clearly have witnessed this behavior, but has her mother? If so, does she see it for what it is, or does she condone it by ignoring it? If the latter, then I'd agree that they shouldn't play together. If the mom genuinely doesn't realize her daughter is doing it, and it is important to you to maintain the girls' friendship, then you will need to tell her and then she needs to start disciplining her daughter EACH and EVERY TIME she does it. Immediate time outs EVERY TIME she pushes, pulls, "hugs" your daughter. She needs to explain to her daughter, as I have to mine, that friends don't hurt each other, that she can't force your friend to play what she wants to play, and if she keeps doing it, she won't be able to come over to play anymore. This approach has worked with my daughter. But as I say, this is her mom's job, not yours. If she can't or won't do it, then the friendship probably needs to end.

Everyone has great ideas below... One simple thing: when you catch the bossy girl talking meanly to your daughter, walk over quickly, with loud steps, and say sternly, "Don't talk to my daughter, that way!" and walk away. It will shock the bossy girl. If you see her always being the boss in the game, or having the best toy, walk over quickly and purposefully, taking loud steps and say sternly, "OK, it is my daughter's turn now. Please give her that." and look the little kid right in the eye. She will then know that she can't get away with acting mean to your daughter. That you will be right there on her. This worked with one of my son's friends when they were little. The kid was a little scared of me at first, but then straightened out, so then I became more softer and then the kid loved me and respected me too. And, more importantly, didn't boss my son around. Good luck.


As a mom and a teacher I can definatly say that girls can be cruel to each other. I have witnessed this with my 7 yr old , my 3 yr old and even my 1 yr old. I have also seen this within my own classroom. My suggestion is to have a brief chat with your child. Ask her how she feels when the child does this behavior. What would she do to show her friend that how she feels about being treated this way. In our classroom, we have a rule that I carry to my home that says " My hands are for hugs not for hurting." Also can you discuss with your child things to tell this and other children to be respectful to her. Suggestions being: Please stop, I don't like it." Is your daughter trying to please her friend by letting her do what she wants until the kid cries wolf?
Are you able to speak with the other child's parent and explain your concerns without offending her? Maybe other kids have had similar experiences with this child, can you chat with other moms who might know the family?

Hi M., if this child is at your home, tell her if she is not nice to your daughter, she will have to go home.she can come back when she is a good girl. This will hurt a little, but maybe she will wake up, and not be so bossy. Tell her your daughter dont have to do everything she says. Your daughter has to make some sugestions also. Tell her she is not to be bossy. Because you dont like that. They have to play togeather, and have fun.that is why they are friends explain to her. Good luck, with this problem, ok

If you would not continue to associate yourself with someone who treats you like that - why are you trying to teach your daughter that she needs to be "friends" with someone like that. I teach my children that they can choose their friends, and they don't need to be friends with someone who treats them that way (and similarly, no one will want to be friends with them if they act that way). If that's the lesson you'd also like your child to learn, immediately call an end to this "friendship" - AND let your daughter know she won't have to be friends with someone like that in life.

Hi, my son has a similar friend and wasn't sticking up for himself either. The little boy will also pull him around by the shirt to wherever, hit my son for no reason, be bossy etc... My son had his own methods of dealing with him like running away from the kid. I would see my son running (fast) with a toy and this other boy chasing him. Or my son would hit the boy back or just scream stop at him.

I was more confused by my son's friend's parents not doing much to interject and correct their child. So, I started to step in.

I now will step in nicely and stop the situation. If the friend wants to play tag and is demanding my son to play. I say (son's friend) John ask steven to play tag -- I have him say "do you want to play tag?" I then say to my son "Steven do you want to play? it's ok to say no!" Steven will then say "no". I will tell John he doesn't want to play and ask if anyone can come up with another idea.

Or if John is taking a toy from Steven -- I make them stop and make John ask for it and have Steven respond then deal with it from there.

If John hits Steven -- I firmly tell John we don't hit and I have my son tell him "Don't hit me! I don't like it!" and if John continues I say something to his parents like "We don't play with kids that hit." and leave.

I started doing this in front of the parent -- I told the parent I am not correcting your child -- I am helping my child to learn how to deal and cope with other children in a positive manner. This is not about your child but, about mine.

It has done a couple of things -- John has gotten better with social manners (my son) and it has helped my son practice voicing his feelings and wants/needs from other children. John's parent have even started working with the boys.

The other thing I have done is told my child that how John is acting and treating him is not a reflection on you or who you are -- it's a reflexion on John. I tell Steven that if he doesn't like how someone is treating him -- it's ok! not to want to play with that person or even like that person, but, he still has to be nice to John or whoever.

I hope this helps.

Is this a friend from a play group or preschool? Or one of your friends daughters? If no, then I would politely decline any firther playdates. I have had issues myself with other children and my girls. I wouldn't say my daughters are soft spoken but, they can be. One incident is similar to your story and the mom and I decided not to get together anymore. We even had a girl at a play group we went to that would be excited to see my daughter but, would immediately take away whatever toy she had. We ended up changing playgroups.
It's one thing to have a bossy friend, it's a whole different thing to have a friend who is rough and pushes your daughter around. Explain to your daughter that you don't treat friends that way and that the behavior is unacceptible. You don't want her to start acting like that. She'll be in school soon enough and even the teachers would not accept that kind of behavior. Good luck!

Hi M.: It sounds like your child definitely needs your support. I wonder if you could address some of these concerns with the mother of the other child, when neither of the children are around? I'm not sure what your relationship is to this family, but definitely important to listen to your instincts regarding your daughter and to act in her best interest. Good Luck!

Do her a favor and keep her away from her bossy friend! I had a friend like that & still until this day I wonder why the hell I was friends with her at all for so many years. The only reason we stopped being friends is because I moved about 45 min away. That was when I was 13! Her mother was exactly the same way too & knew what her daughter was doing. They ganged up on me and put me down all the time too.
Like for example once we were playing "school" she of course was the teacher & I was the student. I had several learning disabilities and she was very smart. She knew math was my worst subject but yet as the teacher "made me take a math test". I did horrible on it & her and her mother made fun of me. I never told my own mom about this until a few years ago & she said had she known she never would have let me play with her again & would have spoken to her mother.
Oh well, life is great now and my life (I know for a fact, we did "reunite" a few years back) is much better, healthier and happier than hers!

M. this pretty much describes by daughters relationship with her best friend since birth. They are now 6 and I am so very frustrated. I know your post was years ago. Can you tell me how it all turned out.

Is there any reason yor daughter has to play with this child? Is her Mom a good friend of yours. It sounds like it may be a good idea for them to have some separation. My older daughter has a friend like that who is our neighbor. We conveniently couldn't have some play dates so she doesn't come over as much and when she does, she is much nicer. At that age you may have to really supervise and feel free to tell the girl if she's being too rough or mean, not to be mad at her but to teach her. She may have never been told she's being too bossy by an adult! Your house, your rules- if you don't want her to touch your child- you should tell her so! I do agree that these relationships help our meeker children to toughen up, but if she's picking up the behavior, make sure she remembers how she felt when it was done to her and give the two some space for a while!

I am a toddler teacher but on occasion I work in the pre-k room with 4 year olds. It surprised me how bossy and mean some the girls are at this age. Even competitive about friends. I say that if they can't be nice then they can't play with the girls they have hurt and suggest to the girl that has been hurt to go play with someone else. I hope this helps.

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