How do I get my 8-year-old granddaughter to stick up for herself when the confrontational girl next door tries to boss her around?
This is a tricky situation, but you can use it as an opportunity to show your granddaughter to be assertive and set limits -- while teaching the other girl social responsibility.
Teach your granddaughter to negotiate a compromise, collaborate, take turns and play fair by role playing with her. Then arrange a playdate at your home between your granddaughter and the bossy neighbor. Plan an activity -- like playing a board game -- that gives your granddaughter the opportunity to practice her skills with your supervision. Whenever problems arise, intervene and explain the social rules of your home to both girls and support their efforts at establishing some "give and take." If the other girl still doesn’t cooperate, model a polite ending to the playdate.
You may find that it’s impossible to create a positive experience or that playdates at the other girl’s house never work. If that’s the case, this can be a lesson for your granddaughter in when to let go and find more compatible friends.
Dr. Patti Zomber is a child psychologist based in Marina del Rey, Calif. She has written numerous articles about parenting, and she is a contributing editor on NestleFamily.com as well as the editor of the Los Angeles Psychologist journal.