This summer, my daughter was having a hard time with the other kids in the homeschool playgroup which we attend. First, she didn't want to play unless the kids played her game. At least I think that what was going on. She would come to me and complain that no one wanted to play with her. I explained over and over that she needed to join in with what everyone was playing if they weren't interested in playing her game. (She is a few years younger than the others - 5 to their 7 or 8.) Eventually she seemed to get the idea and things went well for awhile.
Then, at her 5th birthday party the other kids formed a group which she was excluded from. They said it was because she was being annoying, which to me, it looked like she was. Us parents tried to help the kids work it out, but the party ended and it was never resolved. Fast forward to the next time we're at the park. Beforehand I tried to help prepare my daughter to be a good friend, sharing treats, not being overbearing about her games, being calm, mature, all the things which are really difficult for her. She was ready. Two kids, one of them who was her best friend before, (everyone else was gone) excluded my daughter in a rather cruel way, moving away from her if she tried to sit near them, ignoring her if she offered them a strawberry, shaking off her hand if she tried to hold hands. We left the park day early and I explained that the kids weren't acting like good friends, so we were going to go be with people who were kind (which ended up being just ourselves at the ice cream parlor). We took a break for several months from these kiddos after this incident, and the other parents did try to work with their kids about being a kind friend, etc. (I don't know the details).
Anyway, we joined the group again and everyone was doing well playing at the park - having fun, playing games that everyone enjoyed. But then it started again. The two kiddos from before (with my daughter tagging along) started leaving out my older son (age 7). He asked what they were playing over and over and they pretended that they couldn't hear him. I stepped in and told my daughter to include my son in the game. She did, and then the other kids just took off on their own. Ergh.
Then last week at the park, my daughter was playing with one of the two kiddos on her own, and another new younger child (maybe about age 3) came up and I thought that they were all playing together. As we drove home my daughter told me that the new little child was being "annoying" and how they were trying to get away from him. This is not how I want my child to act (obviously). I did a lot of explaining about why this was wrong and unkind, etc. but I really don't know how much this will sink in. It seems clear that she is learning this behaviour from the other kids who treated her in this way - normally she would never be like that - she loves playing with anyone.
I don't know what to do. I honestly like all the families in this group. They are dear friends to me and their kids are sometimes wonderful - creative, fun, sweet. It's just this one dynamic - leaving people out - which I would like to nip in the bud. Any thoughts?