4-year-olds kissing have parents in a dither

PARENT Q & A

September 24, 2000|By T. BERRY BRAZELTON, M D. | T. BERRY BRAZELTON, M D.,NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL FEATURES

Q.Our 4-year-old son and our neighbors' 4-year-old daughter are infatuated with kissing and hugging each other. At first we thought this was cute, but now we are trying to put a stop to it. We tried telling them it is not allowed. That didn't work, so now we keep them apart. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

A. Maybe the children sense how much this behavior bothers you as parents. I wouldn't be inclined to take it too seriously. They are exploring adult-like behavior - and this is what they see on television and whenever adults they know get together.

This is also the age when boys and girls want to find out about their differences. Playing "doctor" is a common 4-year-old game.

My advice is to find your son a male friend who is like him temperamentally. Get the two of them together often so they can form a close relationship. Your neighbor can find a female friend for her daughter. But don't overreact. I can't see any real harm in their close relationship except making them feel guilty about behaviors they can't understand as bad.

Questions or comments should be addressed to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, care of the New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Dr. Brazelton regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individualIy.

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