We have been in our homeschooling support group for 7 years, since my oldest was 5 and my middle daughter a toddler. This year my daughter, K, has started coming home frequently in tears and not wanting to go because of another child her age, an only child who just began homeschooling and who joined our group this year. We have never had this problem before. While I'm finally making a move to speak with the mother, who seems very nice (but whom I don't know well), I am always petrified of this kind of confrontation. What do other people do to help a situation like this?
At first, the two girls seemed to enjoy each other a lot. Then we had the other girl, T, overnight after a party (another friend of K's stayed), and things started to go sour. T is very assertive and made demands on me (which I did not always agree to, and she did not like it) and began asking K if she could have some of her things. For example, she told K to give her her sunglasses because she didn't have any herself and needed them to correct her vision (we did try to tell her they are non-corrective). Then she told K that K looked "dorky" in the glasses and should give them to her. A lot of other unpleasant comments were made throughout the morning. I didn't say much about these comments but tried to encourage them to get along until T's mother came for her. I have never had such a difficult or demanding child in my home before. (The other girl who stayed overnight told her mother that T was "not very nice.")
After this, T began frequently acting unpleasant to K at our homeschool group and other gatherings, especially if other girls their age are present. She tries to leave K out of games or refuse to play what K wants to play but shows favor to any other girl present. T seems very competitive and becomes unsettled or jealous if K appears to be good at something or have some perceived advantage over her, and she frequently tells fibs. Unfortunately, K cannot seem to ignore the fibs, despite my advice, and tries to challenge T whenever she perceives she is lying. K also gets quite caught up in the drama of the situation and, even when other friends are present and she does not have to interact directly with T, she is still unhappy and angry afterwards because of some comment or look from her.
We have continued to make attempts to be hospitable (had T over for a playdate one day when it they had been the only two girls their age at group, and they had been getting along), but T seems bent on singling out E and being unkind to her. Yesterday, there were only 3 girls around their age at our gathering, and T attempted again to leave K out of the interaction. She reported to her mother that K was being mean to her, then she reported back to K that her mom had said, "K seems to have trouble getting along with more than one girl at a time." I sometimes tell my kids that 3 together can be difficult, but I don't think it was fair for T's mom to blame K (if she actually did say it) for having a particular problem. In other groups over the years, I have never perceived K to have any special trouble being with more than one child. So now I am also angry that this comment was made; it seems to provide T with what she wants--justification for being angry with or disliking K. If you have made it through my long ramblings, how would you talk with the mother or handle this situation?