Parent upset after preschool bans child from having a 'best friend'

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BOSTON (WBZ/CNN) - Everybody knows that even very young children can form special friendships.

But at one preschool in Georgetown, Mam little ones aren't allowed to call each other "best friends."

The school says the reason is that this language doesn't promote inclusivity.

Julia Hartwell loves her dolls in arts and crafts and like most four- 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,” Julia’s mother, Christine Hartwell, said.

At Pentucket Workshop Preschool, that's not a term Julie can use to describe her friendship.

"I think it's ridiculous,” said Christine Hartwell. “Children who are four years old speak from their heart, so they should be able to call kids anything loving.”

The preschool offered an 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."

The school wants to encourage 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 Gregory Young, a pediatric psychologist.

Christine Hartwell said the chiding has left her daughter confused.

"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 as she's saying it and she's checking in with me to see if that language is okay."

Christine Hartwell said her daughter will not be going to school the rest of the year.

The Pentucket Workshop Preschool has not commented.

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