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The University of Alabama

UA Matters: How to Deal with Your Child’s ‘Puppy Love’

UA Matters logoAs parents, it is tempting to just tell a young person to get over it when puppy love goes wrong.

Dr. Lee Keyes, executive director of the University of Alabama counseling center, advises parents not to go that route.

“Puppy love often happens in the early teen or pre-teen years when emotions are already intense,” he says. “Because they are inexperienced, teens and pre-teens often can’t discriminate among types of relationships, and everything seems extreme and final, and that includes puppy love,” he adds.

“When it ends, they believe their world is at an end, and we, as parents, should approach this as a real loss,” advises Keyes.

Other tips:

  • Keep the lines of communication open. Parents who deal successfully with these issues do a lot of listening.
  • Watch for signs, and find ways to give gentle reminders about proper ways for them to handle these new feelings.
  • Hug them, assure them they are lovable.

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UA Matters is a bi-weekly column that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The columns are available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Suzanne Dowling at 205/348-8324 or

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.