Q: I babysit a seven-year-old girl who is obsessed with boys, crushes, love and dating. Her parents got divorced last year and both of them are now dating, which is affecting her. She’s big for her age and has been teased at school. I tell her that she’s beautiful and that she doesn’t need to worry about boys yet. Is there anything else I can do or say to help her through this troubled time?
A: Telling her she’s beautiful offers her a different view of herself than she’s getting from her peers. Try to encourage this little girl to talk about her parents’ divorce, and encourage her to talk to them about it too. You can help her by telling both parents what she’s been telling you; let them know you suspect her early interest in boys is related to her feelings of loss and worries about remaining special to both of them. If you’re concerned about violating the girl’s trust, tell her you’re letting her parents know so they can help her feel better. Often young children want their parents to know about their worries, but don’t know how to tell them.