How can I help my child, who has a “rude” friend?

We know, at some point, our children will be faced with the challenge of having a "rude" friend. As mothers, it can be tempting to step in and be a "protector." But how can we handle the situation in a way that helps our children develop healthy boundaries and interpersonal skills?

By Dr. Kimberley Bennett




about the doc

Dr. Kimberley Bennett has a Doctorate in Child, Adolescent and Educational Psychology.  She has been a Registered Psychologist for 10 years. When not at her practice, she is a mother to two beautiful children. Her eldest was the inspiration behind The Psychologist’s Child. Becoming a mother taught her more than any of her professional trainings to date. Her highly sensitive son guided her down the gentle parenting path which has aligned so seamlessly with the theory and research that she studied and practiced throughout her Psychology career.

Dr. Bennett has a particular interest in Child Development, Attachment Theory, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Infant Mental Health, Positive & Gentle parenting.


You can find more of Dr. Bennett’s work on her website

We often allow our children to have playdates at our house with their friends.  There is one particular friend that is extremely bossy and is often very rude to our daughter when she comes to our home.  How do we handle correcting the child? Is it proper for us to address it with the child directly or should we involve the parents?

I would love to know how old these children are to know whether “bossy and rude” behavior are developmentally normal…

I will say this. Children should not be expected to follow the direction of an adult with whom they are not attached to. So, it is not our role to “discipline” or correct the behavior of our child’s playdate – even when they are playing with our child in our house. Of course, we absolutely should step in if there is a safety concern, but otherwise, in the situation you described, I see our role as coaching our own child on how best to assert themselves should a similar situation present in the future, as well as reflecting with our child by discussing what they noticed about their friend’s behavior and how they felt about it. This could present a beautiful opportunity to talk to our child about what makes a good friend, and how best to ensure children have fun when playing together.

With regards assertive skills coaching, again it depends on the ages of the children involved, and the specifics of the situation.

But we can provide children with a “script” to use in similar situations.

“I” messages can be helpful:

“I feel….” (Describe your feelings)

“When…” (what caused the feeling)

“I would like…” (explain what you need)

So, for example,

“I feel sad when I don’t get to have turns with the toy. I would like to share.”

When another child is treating our child unfairly it can be so hard not to step in and “fix” the situation. But we won’t always be available to do so. What is always more helpful in the long run is to identify gaps in the skills development of our own children and think of the best way to support them to navigate similar situations independently in the future.

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