Whether your child is just learning to write their name or a bit older, handling your child’s first crush is a situation you’ll find yourself in sooner or later.
Some children even develop crushes as early as age 5 or 6.
The first crush can be an exciting time for a child, but it can be scary for parents. In any case, here’s how to go about it
1. Find Out If They Have A Crush
Children as young as elementary school age and sometimes even preschoolers may decide they have a crush.
And in most cases, when children have such feelings, parents are the last to know.
While some may share this exciting news with you without any hassles, more often is that they have already told their friends, siblings, and even their teacher by the time you find out.
However, with a bit of investigation, you can find out about that person they fancy so that you can discuss appropriate interactions and come up with a way to cope with your own concerns about their crush.
For example, you might notice that your child is spending more time focused on their appearance than they usually are.
Or, for instance, you might notice that they get the giggles when you mention a specific classmate or a friend.
You can always ask your child, “Is there any girl/boy in your class that you like?” or however kids say it these days.
2. Tell Them Romantic Versus Friendly Feelings
When children form friendships, they sometimes declare that they have a crush on someone without really understanding what romantic feelings are or what this feeling means.
In opposite-sex friendships kids often confuse liking someone as a friend with having a crush.
Take some time to talk with your child about exactly what type of feelings they have for this ‘crush’.
This might help them distinguish between liking someone as a friend and having a crush.
For example, you might tell them that when you crush on someone, you often want to spend more time around them.
You could say, “When you have a crush on someone, that person makes you feel happy just by being around”.
In all, be sure to normalise your child’s feelings to keep them from getting embarrassed around their crush; especially their first crush.
Let them know that having a crush is totally healthy, and nothing to be embarrassed about.
3. Set Boundaries
Discuss what’s okay and not for relationships at their age.
Because this is their crush, your child might not know what to expect or do.
So take the time to think about what types of interactions and relationships you’re okay with you child having, and point this out to them.
In as much as developing a crush is a normal occurrence for children, there should be guidelines and limits set on appropriate interactions between kids.
Explain to your child what types of displays of affection is acceptable for their age.
For instance, you could explain to your preschooler, “It’s okay for you to hold hands and sit by each other, but you aren’t allowed to kiss this person.”
Or, to your preteen, “You aren’t old enough yet to cuddle or kiss”.
“At your age, I’m okay with you sitting next to your crush, holding their hand, and talking on the phone, but nothing else.
4. Give Your Child Appropriate Space
You may want to talk about your child’s crush every opportunity you have or supply them with advice on dealing with the crush.
But you will handle the situation way better if you step back a bit and let your child experience their crush.
Ask about their crush now and then, but avoid interrogating them about it regularly.
They may get embarrassed or annoyed and sop sharing anything with you.
Let them experience the course of the crush on their own, with as minimal interventions as possible.
Allow them to experience their crush without too much parental influence so that it seems like a normal part of life rather than a big deal.
5. Trust Your Instincts
While childhood crushes are a normal and even expected occurrence, you should also trust your instincts and judgment if you feel something isn’t right about the situation.
If you have any concerns about the nature or result of your child’s crush, you should strongly consider finding out more about the situation, and well, being a parent.
For instance, if you think your preteen’s crush on the neighbour makes them do things that break your rules, you should trust your gut and address the situation.
Find more parenting resources here.