WHAT IS LOVE: Children this age are already beginning to form a concept of romantic relationships from watching their parents or other adults, as well as absorbing messages from the media, such as fairy tales and TV shows. According to Dr. Karen Bax, clinical psychologist, Managing Director of Western’s Research and Education Centre at Merrymount and Assistant Professor at the Western University Faculty of Education,
“If you ask kids this age what a boyfriend or girlfriend is, their definition usually relates to personal closeness.” This is why they may want to marry daddy or insist that their babysitter is their girlfriend, simply because they want to spend time together.
THE COMMON CONCERN: Kindergarten children may begin to mention a peer being their boyfriend or girlfriend, and might either discuss it enthusiastically, or become embarrassed by any mention of their new “love”.
THE LOVE LESSON: “Along the whole developmental spectrum I would encourage parents not to tease or make a big deal out of these sorts of relationships,” advises Dr. Bax, “and instead be curious about them.” She suggests asking your child what they like about that particular friend, opening the door to future conversations. Mom of three, Jennifer Desmond* from Kingston, Ont., says, “At this age, I tried to steer my kids away from the crush concept, acknowledging that they are going to have special friendships, but at this point it’s just friendship.”
WE ASKED KIDS… WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN LOVE? “You hug and kiss people.” CARSON, 4 “Being nice.” DECLAN, 5 “Hearts.” AUDREY, 8 “Mushy gushy.” EVAN, 10 “You find the perfect somebody.” GREGORY, 10 “I don’t know, look it up online.” MARTIN,...
“Mrs. Winn, Abby is my girlfriend!” “I see. Does she know this?” “No. But I love her.”