How to Handle Your Child's First Crush

When school begins, so do playground weddings. How should you cope with a bad case of puppy love?
boy with a crush

My 6-year-old son, Jamie, came home from school talking about something new that had happened in his circle of friends. He'd caught a glimpse of Miro kissing Stephanie on the cheek, but he wanted Stephanie to be his girlfriend, not Miro's. My questions began pouring out: Does Stephanie know you like her? Do you think she likes you? Do you want to kiss her too?

Although Jamie's infatuation caught me off guard, experts say that kids commonly have their first crush when they're 5 or 6. "Younger children focus their love on their family," explains Cynthia Langtiw, Psy.D., assistant professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. "But as kids enter kindergarten or first grade, they feel affection for their classmates too because they're spending more time in school and in activities outside their family." How should you handle these innocent infatuations? Take these (love) notes.

Spot the Signs
Your kid might be eager to share the news with you. However, it's more likely she'll play coy, says Kristin Lagattuta, Ph.D., associate professor of developmental psychology at the University of California, Davis. Look for these clues: being giggly about a friend of the opposite sex; getting interested in the romantic plots of movies; or incorporating marriage into pretend play.

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