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Childhood Crushes: Why they are HealthyWhat do you do when your preschooler starts bringing home stories of liking someone from the opposite sex?by Ines Bautista-Yao .
Psychologist Kathleena dela Rosa agrees. “It’s nothing to be worried about. What a crush is to them is different from what a crush is to a teenager or young adult.” Villarin adds, “The adult is the one who puts a label on it.”
In fact, it is a good thing that children start identifying characteristics they like in other people because this is the way friendships start. However, it would be good to talk to your child about it if you feel he or she is becoming overly attached to the other kid. “Talk about what she likes about that person and point out that her other friends may have those characteristics as well,” says Villarin. “Divert her attention through games and invite some friends to play dates.”
When the kids refuse to confide in you about these childhood crushes, is it a cause for worry? Villarin says, “Most likely it’s because of the teasing involved or negative reactions from adults.”
At the same time, boys and girls may handle it differently. “When I was doing research on differences between boys and girls,” shares Villarin, “I found that girls will talk about it with friends and may talk about it with Mom, while boys will not talk about it at all. Boys are more sensitive to teasing, or they may not even know what they're feeling.”
So how do you approach them about it? Our first reaction may be to dismiss it as nothing or to tease them in good humor, Villarin warns against this. Instead, she suggests asking open-ended questions such as, "What do you like about her or him?" You don’t even have to put a label on it. You can ask, “Why is so and so fun to play with?” or “Why is she or he great to hang out with?” That way, it can even become a learning experience for both of you about your little one’s preferences.
As your preschooler moves away from focusing entirely on herself, she will start looking outward and noticing that the world is definitely much larger than what she originally thought.
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