GEORGETOWN, Mass. – Everybody knows that even very young children can form special friendships.
But at one preschool in Georgetown, Massachusetts, little ones aren't allowed to call each other "best friends."
The school says the reason is that this term of endearment doesn't promote inclusivity, but one child's mother calls the policy "ridiculous."
Julia Hartwell loves her dolls in arts and crafts, and like most 4-year-olds she has a best friend.
"She said you know so-and-so you're my best buddy. The teacher told her that she couldn't say that there in school," said Christine Hartwell, Julia's mom.
At Pentucket Workshop Preschool, that's not a term Julia can use to describe her friendship.
"I think it's ridiculous. Children who are 4 years old speak from their heart so they should be able to call kids anything loving me or my best friend you're my best pal," said Christine.
The Georgetown preschool offered this explanation to Julia's parents, saying "the term 'best friend' can lead other children to feel excluded and it can ultimately lead to the formation of cliques and outsiders," encouraging their students to have a wider group of friends.
"Although I think that words are really important and the term 'best' does have an implied meaning to it, I don't know if the right answer is necessarily denying children the ability to use that term," said Dr. Gregory Young, a pediatric psychologist.
"Even now she goes to say it in a loving way -- 'I'm going to go see my best friend Charlie' or this one or that one -- and she looks at me sideways and she's saying it and she's checking in with me to see if that language is OK," said Christine.