GEORGETOWN, Mass. (WBZ/CNN) – Julia Hartwell loves her dolls and arts and crafts and like most four year olds she has a best friend.
According to Julia’s mom, Christine Hartwell, “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.”
At Pentucket Workshop Preschool, that’s not a term Julie can use to describe her friendship.
Christine Hartwell/Mother of Julia Hartwell: “I think it’s ridiculous. Children who are four years old speak from their heart so they should be able to call kids anything loving; you’re my best friend, you’re my best pal.”
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.
Dr. Gregory Young is a pediatric psychologist. He explained, “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.”
Christine said, “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 okay.”
Christine told WBZ her daughter will not be going to school the rest of the year. We reached out to the Pentucket Workshop Preschool for comment. So far we have not heard back.