Your children are always your babies, so it can be a little overwhelming when they start to grow up! This is never as relevant as when they start to develop a crush. Whether it starts in pre-school or the school playground, it’s important to know how to handle it sensitively. With Valentine’s Day coming up, we have some helpful tips on dealing with your little one’s first crush.
1. Look for the signs
The first step is to determine if you have a crush on your hands or not. If they are giggly or red-faced around their playmate, or even when you mention their name, this is usually a strong sign that you are dealing with a crush. Increased inquisitiveness about love and relationships should also set off the alarms.
It’s important to find out exactly how your child is feeling, so dig a little to find out what’s going on in their heads. Asking them outright if they like someone may upset or embarrass them, so take the sensitive approach. Express your interest with observations, such as, “I noticed you are enjoying playing with X”. If they have a crush, this should be all they need to be forthcoming with their feelings.
3. Find out if the feeling is mutual
Too often people dismiss childhood crushes, but it’s so important to handle it sensitively so as not to upset your child. The next step is to find out if the feeling is mutual. Once you have gotten the ball rolling, ask if they genuinely think the feelings are reciprocated. Reassure them that you are here to listen and help them through these new feelings.
4. Set boundaries immediately
If you have a mutual crush on your hands, it’s not only your right but also your responsibility to step in and make sure that the situation is appropriately dealt with. While there is usually little to worry about, you need to make sure that your little one knows the boundaries of appropriate behaviour. Tell them that playing together is fine, but under no circumstances should they be kissing. If you are concerned, consider approaching the relevant teacher or the other parent, just so that all the adults concerned are on the same page.
5. Comfort them
No matter what age your child may be, they always stand the risk of getting hurt. Whether their crush does something to hurt their feelings or turns their attention to someone else, this can be quite upsetting for your child. Be there to listen, to comfort, and to build them back up again when they’re feeling low in themselves. Remind them of all their wonderful qualities, and perhaps even relay some of your own experiences or your happy-ending story.