Too Young for Boyfriends?

Should you be worried if your 8-year-old starts talking about boyfriends? Most of the time, it's better to take it in stride.
Raphael Buchler

Q: My 8-year-old daughter and her friends are always talking about their "boyfriends." I don't think they're old enough for this. Should I say something?

A: This kind of talk is starting to appear among younger and younger kids, but it's still just talk. "To an 8-year-old, having a 'boyfriend' does not mean having an exclusive or physical relationship with a boy," states Rose McAloon, Ph.D., a family therapist in New York City. "It means having something fun to whisper about with her girlfriends."

If you're really concerned, try asking your daughter a mildly probing question, such as "What's all this talk about boyfriends?" or "What do you think it means to have a boyfriend?" It's unlikely that you will hear anything you need to worry about. "This is a perfectly normal stage in a child's emotional and sexual development," says Dr. McAloon.

Whatever you do, it isn't a good idea to lecture your daughter about being too young for boyfriends, Dr. McAloon warns. "Because your child isn't thinking what you are thinking about boyfriend/girlfriend relationships to begin with, that will only stir up her anxiety," she explains.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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