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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Nine-Year-Old in Love

Written by  Sylvia B. Rimm, PhD

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QDear Dr. Sylvia,

I have a soon-to-be ten-year-old son already experiencing girl problems. At first I thought it was the usual boyfriend-girlfriend cute thing all the kids go through, but now I see it is much serious. He walks this girl to her car everyday after school while carrying her books. He writes her letters telling her how much he loves her. The other day he said she broke up with him and he started to cry. He didn't want to go to school the next day for fear she may do it again. He was sent down to the office twice complaining he didn't feel well.

Now he isn't doing so well in school. He isn't allowed to talk to the girl on the phone anymore, and I told him to tell her that they should only be friends (which I don't think he has done). I have tried telling him he is too young to be acting like this. He has plenty of time in his life for girls. He still seems to need to hold on to her. We show him plenty of love, but he's getting mouthy and disrespectful, and I'm finding it harder and harder to like him. Any suggestions?

AYour son's symptoms are appearing more and more among "tweens" in our society, children too young to be in love, but encouraged by our society to skip into a developmental period without the maturity to handle it.

Your message to your son is an appropriate one, but to help him shift his passion from a girl, he requires something else to become passionate about. Involvement in a theater group, a competitive team activity (not necessarily a sport), a spelling team, Odyssey of the Mind, a model rocket club, or a collection activity of some kind may surely help.

It may also help if your son finds others who share his passion, thus making it less likely that he will fall back to his girlfriend. The girl is undoubtedly getting similar wisdom from her parents, but you may wish to check with them in case she is flirting. Two sets of parents on the same team can only help both children.

Dr. Sylvia Rimm

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 13:54
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Sylvia B. Rimm, PhD

Sylvia B. Rimm, PhD

Dr. Sylvia Rimm is a psychologist and best-selling author with a national following. She is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and is a clinical professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

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