March 26, 2012 Kerala Taylor

Should schools ban kids from having best friends?

Did you have a best friend growing up? These days, you just might be breaking the rules. That's right -- according to our friend Tim Gill at Rethinking Childhood, at least one UK school has enacted a "best friend ban."

Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni told The Sun, "They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend. But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they're learning to deal with it."

Let's face it: Pain is part of growing up. Skinned knees teach children valuable lessons about their physical limits, just as a waning friendship helps to emotionally prepare them for future losses. Trying to protect them from either is not only fruitless, but can actually do more harm than good.

And while it's clearly beneficial for children to learn how to play in groups, no one should have to sacrifice a close friendship to do so. Rather than criminalizing a normal, and often healthy, element of growing up, why not gently encourage more group play by teaching collaborative recess games? (Our good friends at Playworks are experts in this realm.)

What would you tell your school if they implemented a best friend ban?

Photo by cobalt123 (cc).

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