Let’s see through these testimonials how kids experience their young love, and how parents, educators, and teachers react to these relationships.
While some little ones seem to easily develop an intense emotional attachment to others, it’s usually between 3 and 6 years old that children experience their first love. It’s an important period in terms of finding their personal identity, during which they want to do everything like their parents and other adults around them, and love is no exception. Children are surrounded by people who live and are happy as a couple: their parents or relatives, and if it’s not the case, the fairytales characters where the story always ends with “They got married, had many children and lived happily ever after” certainly play that role very well. Kids then want to replicate that ideal of happiness.
Jeremy and Adele: lifelong plans!
Six-year-old Jeremy proudly tells his mom that Adele will be his wife when they grow up, that they’ll buy a house next to her’s and that she’ll run all the errands for them and change their baby’s diapers. For him, it’s serious business. Although she’s sometimes a bit uncomfortable when Jeremy kisses Adele, - “I find them a little young for that” – Karine nonetheless finds their little love story adorable and is happy that her son confides in her to talk about his girlfriend.
Maxime and Ariane: Love at first sight
Maxime and Ariane met when they were 4 or 5 months old because their mommies were friends. "It clicked right away between those two, it’s like they were made for each other", says Maxime’s mother Marie-Claude. They saw each other regularly during a few years, and the mothers noticed that they were often trying to get closer to the other (holding hands, hugging), even in the presence of other children. "Maxime told everyone that Ariane was his girlfriend. He missed her and looked at her picture before going to bed. It was a child love, but it was a real love nonetheless."
If most parents find their kids’ love really cute, some are uncomfortable with it. They realize that children’ love stories are not always as innocent as they would like them to be. The 7-year-old little girl who can’t stop talking about her “boyfriend” and draws hearts around his name. The 10- year-old boy who tells his parents that he kissed his girlfriend in the schoolyard. All of this brings them to question the importance they should give to these love stories and the limits they should impose on their kids.
As parents, we must remember that by being open to our child’ secrets, it gives us a greater access to their feelings and their reality as a little "lover". Depending on the situation, we’ll be able to address the issues of intimacy and respect, share our values about love and play down the heartaches, which are unfortunately also very real and intense.
We didn’t see her grow up!
France and Patrick tell us that their 12-year-old daughter had a little boyfriend when they went camping last year. Both children’s parents were joking about it, saying that they would get married, but they never thought that the kids could have kissed. “These things happen to others, not us!”, adds France. That’s what she thought, until the day her daughter’s face became bright red after a comment on the subject, which made her dad react quite strongly. The parents then realized that their child was not a baby anymore.