My 7 and 6 year old daughters (Alyssa and Alex respectively) are very loving, caring and generally considerate toward one another. Notwithstanding normal little spats and being highly competitive and mildly possessive with their toys and clothes, they play beautifully with one another and Alyssa is a very nurturing though somewhat shy older sister while Alex is very sociably confident.
The problem begins with the situation that my wife's best friend has a daughter (Scarlett) who is Alex's age. Alex and Scarlett are best friends but all three girls are often together simply because my wife spends a lot of time with her best friend with the kids (carpooling to school, at our house and in general) and this results in Alyssa find herself in the position of a third wheel and left to play with herself.
The worse part of this scenario is that Scarlett who is (extroverted and self-confident like Alex) deliberately plays in a way to exclude Alyssa in order to keep Alex to herself and is chronically and calculatingly mean to Alyssa . Alex is aware of this on a conscious level and tries to include Alyssa but Scarlet plays my two girls off against one another in a manner that almost always results in Alyssa being excluded. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that Alex and Scarlett have sleep-overs at Scarlett's house and Alyssa is once again left out.
My wife and I have tried to address this by actively seeking out play-dates and arranging sleep-overs for Alyssa with her two best friends, but my wife's friendship with Scarlett's mom and the consequent time all three girls are together creates an unavoidable imbalance.
I am not in a position to admonish Scarlett for being mean to Alyssa and her mom who I have to admit treats both my daughters with genuine love and affection is nevertheless willfully blind to her daughter's mean conduct toward Alyssa.
My wife's friendship with Scarletts mom has previously also to an extent blinded her toward the problem and she has previously been very harsh with Alyssa when Alyssa acts out against the patently unfair situation. But after we had a few discussions she now recognizes it and we are both trying to fill in by specifically spending time with Alyssa when Scarlett is over, but this still leaves a great deal of time where the three girls are essentially together with adult supervision but not direct interaction - and consequently Alyssa is vulnerable.
This has been going on for the last three years and I had hoped that it would sort itself out but is has unfortunately gotten more insidious and has clearly taken a toll on Alyssa.
Can anyone suggest how my wife and I may hand this with Scarlett and her mom in as kind a gentle a manner as possible?