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My little one and I have recently setup a weekly fairy tale movie session. She really loves stories where the female character falls in love and lives happily ever after, usually with some kind of prince. A few times now she has asked me after the movie in her own sort of way, when what's in the story will happen to her, or as I'm translating it, from what age people feel in love/fall in love. I have asked her a few different follow up questions each time so I feel quite confident that this is what she is trying to ask.

One of the things I remember when I was growing up, was adults or older siblings dismissing apparently feeling in love as "just a crush" or "love really, at your age" etc. Personally I'm not a fan of this kind of approach since I feel that if someone thinks they're in love, who am I to tell them otherwise, I don't know how they feel since I'm not them. Even adults get confused about being in love or not. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but generally I feel it's important to not be dismissive.

I feel like saying that: you can fall in love at any age, or, age doesn't really have anything to do with it, but at the same time I'm wondering if there's a better way to phrase/explain this? For example, in terms of feeling in love and being aware of it, this can be quite tricky if you feel it but don't quite understand that that is what's happening. And on the flip side there's of course times when you think you feel in love but later realise you actually weren't. The movie Little Manhattan captures all of the above beautifully, and I can try watching it with my little one, but I'd like to have a way of explaining things myself as well.

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I think that answers like this should be tailored to that child's age. Rather than "at a specific age", which wouldn't be a useful answer even if it were possible, explain what "love" means for a 3 year old - ie, someone you care strongly about - and explain that as you get older, love will mean different things to you, but it always means that core thing (that you care about someone). Your answer at nine will be different, as it will be at fifteen - but in terms of what makes sense to her now, explain what it means to a child her age now. That way she will understand it in terms that make sense to her.

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