There's this clever trick that my son's teachers have incorporated into their classrooms. They all refer to the class as "friends." Not as "students," or "kids" or even "children." Friends. I've heard statements like, "Clean up your stations, friends, and we can all head to the library." And: "I'm not sure where the humming is coming from, my friends, but it needs to stop."
In a way, it is brilliant, because it makes the students consider each other part of one big friends group. So, when I ask my son about his day, I hear him label everyone as a friend.
Of course, the slight downside to this is that it is a little harder for me to determine which of my son's classmates he has a deeper friendship with, but I am OK with having to ask more questions to determine that. (For the record, sometimes he is not OK with my probing.)
Figuring out your child's friendships can be hard. The children that are labeled as friends one day become adversaries the next week and then make up again before the school day is out. Or you'll suddenly get a phone call from a parent inviting your child over because he is the best of friends with their child - even though you've never heard that child's name mentioned before.
I like that most of the advice on the topic of childhood friends is to just listen. Our kids are still trying to figure out how to navigate their own behaviors and sometimes trying to figure out someone else seems like it is too much. Eventually, they will learn what they are looking for in a true friend and (hopefully) will want to tell you all about it.
Does your child have a best friend? Share the story in the comments.