I have a 3.5 yo daughter who is actually very verbally and behaviorally advanced, more like a 6 yo. She is very, very gentle, likes gentle play and is quiet. She loves cooperating with other kids and playing together and when the other kids are not playing nice (snatching toys, being rude) she will first ask them calmly to "please play nice." She never hits or kicks or screams, but will run crying to me or scream at the other child/hold her ground if they persist in the behavior.
We have friends that we play with, mostly little boys and one of them is our very, very good friend whom we love dearly and wouldn't DREAM of keeping DD away from, but after playing with these other kids who are rougher and grabby and sometimes like to snatch from her just to get her reaction, she will often show bad behavior when we leave.
For example, the little boy's (3 yo) mom (my very good friend who also practices GD) is trying to speak to him about his behavior, he refuses to listen, will fight her and she will have to take him off somewhere to help him calm down. When he comes back, he'll be fine for a little while and the problems will start again, etc. He's a really great kid, just has a TOTALLY different personality than DD and can be a handful at times.
When we leave the play group, DD, who is normally very obedient and doesn't put up fights about anything, will totally lose it, seemingly for no reason. Yesterday, it was time to get in the car to go and she stepped up as if to do so calmly and then very suddenly screamed "NO," ducked under my arm and took off into traffic! She has NEVER done anything like this before. For her, it's totally crazy. I had to grab her and try to explain about traffic and the whole time she yanked on me to get away and screamed just like her friend had with his mom. I didn't know what to do or say.
I attribute these outbursts to playing with other kids, because she only does it after another child is being difficult with her. Then we go back to her normal behavior a few hours later.
I can't keep her away from every child in the world that won't play nicely. I know she's doing it because she's copying behavior she has just witnessed. (We've had to stop letting her watch shows like Caillou because after the show, she will immediately emulate Caillou's bad behavior that was in the show instead of learning the lesson that was supposed to go with it.) I guess she's experimenting with what she sees and is mimicking.
I can stop it with media. How do I stop it with real people?
Edit: I should add that I'm not forcing her to play with these children or this child. She calls them her friends and asks to play with them and they usually play together quite nicely, but there's almost always a point where things go awry. It's not as if she doesn't like the kids she's playing with. It's more her mimicking behavior that has become a problem.
I have tried explaining to her WHY we don't act this way and she always wants to know why her friend does it. I have no idea how to answer that. She keeps saying "he's always naughty," etc. which I don't think is true and I don't want to teach her that. Ideas?