It happens so suddenly you don’t even realize that the years have flashed by and your baby is no longer that little cutie. To you, they are still that squealing little bundle that the nurse handed you on the day they were born, but today, everything has changed. Today, your child has a crush.
Not all kids are going to come right out and start talking about the boy or girl or teacher that they like. It’s also important to realize that first crushes don’t happen in the teen years. According to specialists, you should be ready for your child’s first crush when they are about five or six years old. Many kids play coy instead of letting you know how they feel.
Some children might be eager to share the news of their first crushes with their parents but others give themselves away by being giggly about a friend of the opposite sex, getting interested in the romantic plots of movies or incorporating marriage into pretend plays.
When talking with your child about their crush, do not laugh at them or dismiss their feelings. If you do, they might not feel comfortable opening up to you in the future. And that can lead to bad things.
You then have to determine if the crush is mutual. Suppose your daughter likes a boy in her class. After you explore what she’s going through, ask about whether she thinks the boy feels the same about her. If she doesn’t think that he likes her in that way, explain that it’s important to respect his feelings. By the same token, if a boy has a crush on your daughter, but she doesn’t share his feelings, let her know that it’s okay not to want to be his girlfriend.
Set healthy boundaries. When children crush on others, they may want to act out what they think it’s like being in love. Even though your child is still extremely young when the first crush hits, it’s never too early to start setting boundaries and letting them know what is and is not appropriate and acceptable.
Let younger children know that kisses are only for mommy and daddy, but that it’s okay to talk to their crush, make him or her cards, or hold their hands. TV and movies these days often lead even the youngest kids to believe that the only way to let someone know that they care is by kissing; this is something you need to clarify right away.
Setting rules and ensuring your child understands certain things from the very first crush will help with subsequent crushes as they grow up and even dating when they get into their teen years.
Let your child know that love is fleeting. While most kids will get over their first crush quickly, some may struggle with hurt feelings. Whether your child is the heartbroken or the heartbreaker, it might be a good idea to ask them how they feel about it. It’s also a good time to remind them of all their wonderful qualities.
One thing you should do that seems to help in situations like this is to tell your child your own similar childhood experiences, so they realize that these things happen to everyone and it’s just a part of growing up.