My step-daughter is very tolerant of other people, and kind-hearted. She is also quite mature for her age (11) and is not emotionally volatile like some of the other children in her class. I don't for any minute think my step-daughter is 'perfect', but her emotional maturity is definitely one of her strengths.
There is a girl in her class that is not very capable of making friends. She does not have a concept of personal space, and is constantly moving and jiggling around in front of people in their space. She is also very moody and sulky and will blow up or get offended easily. She speaks in a strange voice. Due to these issues, none of the girls at school want to hang out with her. Possibly she is on the spectrum or ADHD, and I do feel for her.
My step-daughter seems to be the only person in the class who is not nasty to her. This has meant the volatile girl has 'attached' herself to my stepdaughter, and will be at her side the whole day, in class and at recess/lunch, and including getting to our house early in the morning to walk to school (sometimes before we have even got out of bed!), and will walk home too. My step-daughter cannot get a break from her. She does not have much in common with the girl, and finds it difficult to be around her so much.
Having the volatile girl at her side at all times prevents my step-daughter being able to hang out with her other friends, as no-one else wants to be with the volatile girl.
I have thought about discussing with the girls mother, but there is no nice way that I can think of saying that my daughter needs space without offending the mother (and we live in a small town). I don't think the mother is the type with enough emotional maturity either for it to be a rational discussion with any beneficial solution. As many moms, I think she thinks its always her daughter in the 'right'. In a perfect world the mom would be able to train her daughter in some of the reasons why she is having difficulty making friends, but I can't see this happening, and I doubt the mom has much insight, as the mom also has few friends.
I have also spoken to the teacher, who has done nothing. She brushed it off and said she would sit them at different tables, however the unwanted friend keeps coming to my daughters table anyhow for help with work.
I've also thought of addressing the girl directly, but I have no clue how to do so.
How can help our daughter deal with this overwhelming 'friend' in a kind way? We want our daughter to maintain her other friendships that she had before this other girl attached herself. We think it is nice for our daughter to be kind and offer some friendship to the difficult girl, but not to the detriment of all others. We want our daughter to have some space, but (hopefully) also help the other girl grow or learn from the experience.