Parents Canada - - Relating -

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.”

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