How to Handle Your Child's First Crush

Set Boundaries

While crushes often never amount to more than writing notes to each other or hanging out at recess together, some kids may want to hold hands or kiss on the cheek. Experts generally agree that these physical behaviors have nothing to do with sexuality at this age. "Kids are just starting on a path of putting together the ideas of love, physical feelings, and connection," says Lisa Spiegel, cofounder of Soho Parenting, in New York City. But it's smart to talk about boundaries. "You can tell your child that it's okay to play together at school but not to kiss," says Dr. Langtiw.

Heal Hurt Feelings
Early infatuations usually don't last long -- and most kids get over them quickly. However, your son may be hurt if a classmate says she doesn't want to be his "girlfriend" anymore. "Ask him how he feels about it," suggests Dr. Lagattuta. "Then point out all his great qualities and the other friends he has." It's also helpful to mention some of your experiences from childhood so your child realizes that what he's going through is perfectly normal.

Originally published in the September 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

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