Some American and European educators believe the time has come to eliminate the concept of “best friends” from schools in an effort to encourage kids to be more “inclusive.”
The movement gained international attention when Prince William and Kate Middleton enrolled their son Prince George in Thomas’ Battersea prep school in South London last year. News reports on the school indicated that the school encouraged students to “be kind” to all their peers, which included discouraging students from having a “best friend” in favor of being equal friends with everyone at the school.
Although Prince George’s school only “discourages” students from having best friends, WCBS-TV in New York reports that some schools are considering banning “best friends,” with the enthusiastic support of education experts.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg told WCBS that the idea is catching on in schools. According to Greenberg, “There has been a movement in some American schools and European schools to ban the phrase ‘best friend,’ … The idea of banning the phrase ‘best friends’ is a very intriguing social experiment.”
Greenberg acknowledged that simply banning the phrase “best friend” won’t stop children from having “close relationships,” but might encourage kids to be more inclusive in their friendships: “I see kids come in all week long who are feeling dreadful because they are excluded and because they are either nobody’s best friend or their best friend has moved on… Let’s face it, you can’t ban somebody from having a close relationship, and you can’t really ban somebody from having a best friend but what the schools are trying to do is foster the idea of kids having more than a single friend.”
The British school movement to ban best friends has been gaining momentum for years, and now it appears to be catching on in the United States, according to Greenberg.