24/06/2010 10:33 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Do Children Really Need "Friendship Coaches"?

A new profession is springing up in the USA - "friendship coaches".

Apparently having "best friends" is now a Bad Thing and children should be encouraged to be friends the "right way". Whatever that means.

According to ParentDishUS, children who become too close are being separated, and at schools kids are being stopped from eating lunch with their best mates.

Sounds crazy? Apparently it's all about children's "emotional health".

Christine Laycob, director of counselling at a couple of private schools in St Louis, Missouri, told the New York Times "Parents sometimes say, 'Johnny needs that one special friend.' We say he doesn't need a best friend.

"We try to ... get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive."

According to these coaches, it's too hard on children when their best friends turn on them or reject them.

ParentDishUS writer Lenore Skenazy says this is crazy and children need to learn that like everything worthwhile in life, friendship is not always perfect.

"These "Friendship Coaches" buy into the current belief that kids can't handle any adversity," she says. "Kid loses a soccer game? Give 'em a trophy anyway. Kid's friend says, "You're not my friend anymore?" Send in the grief counsellors with a five-part friendship plan."

Surely children don't need this kind of mollycoddling? How are they going to make friendships in the adult world if it's all controlled for them when they're children?

Some kids are good at, and need to make, best friends - others find it easier to just be friendly with a number of children. But they shouldn't be ordered to do one thing or the other.

What do you think? Is there any place for "friendship coaches"?

Source: ParentDishUS