Innocent Crushes and Puppy Love
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Avoid teasing. Though you don’t mean any harm, teasing can embarrass your child and make him less likely to open up about new feelings in the future. Instead, ask open-ended questions, such as “What do you like about her?”
Host a playdate. Often, a crush just means that a child wants to be friends. It’s okay to invite peers of the opposite sex over without it being anything more. Try a gender-neutral activity such as a bike ride or a trip to the park.
Check in at school. Most kids with crushes are too shy to act on their feelings, but some enthusiastic admirers offer hugs and kisses. Speak to the teacher if you think your child may be giving or receiving unwanted affection. Most children simply outgrow the phase.
Find the teachable moment. Use a crush to talk about friendship, including showing respect. Remind her to treat everyone with kindness, even if she doesn’t share the same feelings.
Laura Amann is a freelance writer and mother of four who lives in the Chicago area.
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Sources: Dr. John Duffy, clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent and Dr. Russell Hyken, psychotherapist and educational diagnostician.
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