Why best friends are discouraged at school

Why best friends are discouraged at school

Four-year-old Prince George began school in London earlier this month and the British press were interested in his new school's policy that discourages kids from having a best friend.

The policy is meant to ensure everyone is included and treating others with kindness. That also involves ensuring birthday party invitations aren’t given out in class unless everyone is invited.

I’m not quite sure why this made headlines, at least in terms of the birthday party invitation aspect. Doesn’t this make sense across the board? Even if it’s not a school policy, it’s just the right thing to do.

I hate when my kids come home without a birthday party invitation when others received one in class. Or when kids talk about their parties in class and my kids realize they weren’t included. Sometimes moms will post about their child’s parties on social media and I’ll realize we didn’t get an invite either.

I’m not offended, but I’m an adult and I know how hard it can be to be all-inclusive, manageable and cost-effective when it comes to parties.

If I’m not inviting the entire class, which I only did when my kids were in kindergarten, I’ll send the invitation to select parents by email. I’ll also explain to my kids they shouldn’t talk about their party at school so nobody else is hurt.

As for having a best friend, there’s definitely comfort in having someone you rely on at school, but I also encourage my kids to play with lots of different children and to include them all in games at recess. How would they feel if they were excluded, I ask. They seem to understand.

Does your child have a best friend? And how do you manage birthday party invitations? Do you hand them out secretly in class or invite everyone? Do share!


Reply to
  • cloclo

    I'm very much conflicted about this issue.  I think we are trying too much to protect our kids from every little sad things that are totally normal in life.  Yeah, some parties you will be invited and some you wont. That's life!  Teaching consideration about others is one thing but going out of your way to spare people's feelings (they should instead learn how to deal with disapppointment!) is a little bit too much imho.   

    • Maielle

      The birthday party invites definitely is a tough one to deal with.  Sometimes a child doesn't get invited to a party because it's more of a numbers game, or the kids genuinely are not friends (not that they may be "enemies" but just not friends).  But sometimes it is a deliberate attempt to alienate one person.  In my experience my kids not being invited to a party was never personal, and I've taught them how to deal with disappointment.

      Discouraging best friends on the other hand is utterly ridiculous.  We cannot control every single aspect of our children's relationships with their friends.  If the "besties" are excluding others and going out of their way to hurt other's feelings, then that needs to be addressed with them.  Encouraging all the kids to get along with each other is not harmful and teaches kids how to interact with each other, even the ones they may not like.  I have fond memories of my childhood best friends, and my world would have been very lonely without her...and we got along with everyone in the class as well.

      • PGordon

        Gotta say that when people say "That's life", they are not working with children for a living. I refuse to give out invitations in my class. Why am I to deliver mail as a convenience for parents? But worse still, and what clueless people don't understand, there is almost always a child left out. I will not be the person who inflicts that on a kid because a parent doesn't want to spend an hour delivering invites to their child's classmates on a Saturday morning.  

        When I taught Grade 6, I encountered two situations...one child who had NEVER been invited to a birthday party...ever...in a small town where children often discussed parties in class...and another, whose mother worried that the mean girl contingent in my class would ensure that no one would come to her daughter's birthday party, so she thought perhaps she wouldn't have a party. I know that children are insensitive to the needs of others when it comes to birthday parties due to their excitement, but parents can educate them.  As parents, my husband and I had our children hand deliver every single invite to my their parties to the homes of friends. I encouraged my children, when they couldn't invite everyone, not to discuss their parties in class or at recess.  If you could witness the damage done to children when watching invites being given out in the school yard, and the hurt on their faces when none comes for them, you would choose to spare the child.