Every parent wants their child to have friends, but should they have a best friend? This question has popped up after Prince George started at a school in England that encourages children to have lots of friends, rather than just one close friend.
Thomas’s Battersea, a private day school in south London, encourages children to have ‘lots of good friends’ to avoid children becoming overly possessive. The headmaster who welcomed the prince, Ben Thomas, has said there is no official policy, but children were encouraged to be inclusive and kind to everyone.
‘You can get very possessive friendships, and it is much easier if they share friendships and have a wide range of good friends rather than obsessing too much about who their best friend is,’ he said.
Thomas pointed out that girls often form close-knit friendships, including ‘triangles’, that could lead to one kid feeling excluded
While most parents would agree that their children’s friendships can become a source of distress at times, some are against what they regard as unnecessary micromanagement of what are simple life lessons.
Some educators believe that if children are protected from negative experiences, they will lack the skills to cope with being snubbed.
Others point out while some thrive in groups, other kids prefer one-on-one relationships.
As relationships expert Judi James says: ‘Children have usually had extensive bonding with at least one parent, so when they start school, they’re used to being part of a double act. So it’s only natural that they want to seek out a best friend.’
Perhaps more important than whether children should have a best friend, is teaching them how to be a good friend.
Helping them to understand sharing, considering others’ feelings, listening and supporting others is vital – as is demonstrating how you behave with your own friends.