Q: My 5-year-old son tried to kiss a girl in kindergarten. The teacher called me and told me he chases a girl at recess and tries to kiss her. Apparently the little girl runs away and giggles. The teacher is new and young and wanted me to know. The teacher says he is doing well in class, and we don’t have problems with him at home. He does see my husband kiss me when he comes home from work. How should I handle this and why is he doing this at such a young age? Apparently this isn’t the first girl he’s tried to kiss either!
A: Do not panic! This is the age in which your child is learning about what it means to be male. He does this primarily through identification with Dad and watching and imitating others. Developmentally, he is learning basic gender identity. He has seen your husband kiss you and watched people in movies and TV do the same. Your son is curious and experimenting with what he has seen. It is normal to try and copy this behavior. In a few years, he will think kissing is gross! So talk to your son and tell him that kissing his classmates is inappropriate. Do not punish him but tell him to stop. He can chase the little girl he likes but not kiss her. Suggest that he play tag instead. Most important is your attitude toward this behavior. Be careful not to shame your son or make this into a big deal. How you feel about his sexual development and how you respond to normal development is important.
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