If your child has a crush and it’s unrequited, don’t trivialize it
OH, HOW CUTE. That’s what may crossed your mind when a boy from school calls your daughter who is in fourth grade. Witnessing your child’s first crush whether it is initiated by your child or if she’s on the receiving end of the romantic attention may seem cute but how you handle it is more important because it is very important to your child.
Today, the cupid’s arrow strikes kids as early at 6 or 7 years of age. They go through infatuation and it’s a healthy part of growing up for sure. They teach kids about themselves and about relationships. They can also become a source of pain and heartbreak for some. When hormones kick in during the pre-teens, kids will also have a physical response to falling in love. Though you may not always need to get involved, there are things you can do and things you shouldn’t do. Here’s a list of some:
1. Talking to your kids at all ages is important. You must ensure your child understands being respectful of her own body and herself. In their pre-teens and teens, there is peer pressure around sexual exploration with the misguided notion that if they don’t have sex with their crush, it’s not really love. Stay aware of what’s going on. Talk even if it is hard. Having open communication and building trust with your child will ensure that they will come to you when in doubt or in need.
2. If your child has a crush and it’s unrequited, don’t trivialize it by saying things like, “Oh, you’ll get over it,” or “Well, that was just puppy love.” Instead, console him, and let him be upset and grieve the loss. But also stress that rejection is a normal part of life and that you don’t always find the right person right away and affection is not always reciprocated.
3. If another child has a crush on your child and it’s not mutual, encourage your child to politely refuse. Unwanted attention feels like pressure for children of all ages. Kids on the receiving end of crushes can suffer from psychosomatic symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches and not want to go to school. Help them find ways to deal with it without being intrusive or overbearing.
4. Pre-teens and teens in reciprocal crushes can take things to the extreme by texting until all hours or spending lots of their free time with each other. Set boundaries to help your child balance his responsibilities with his social life. If you get the sense that your child is too involved – obsessing about his crush, spending too much time together, not spending time with friends, not concentrating on school work – he may need help to sort out why the crush has become obsessive. Kids might cling to a crush also if things are rocky at home between their parents, they are struggling in school for the first time or something’s going on in their friend’s circle.
5. Often parents comment on their child’s crush in front of the child to other adults or worse, to their child’s friends. Such insensitivity leads to embarrassment and undermines the confidence your child has in you. If he can’t trust you with that sensitive information, how can he come to you with other important stuff in the future?
6. If you know your teen has a crush on someone, don’t fan the flames by suggesting what she should do, or impose adult-oriented behavior onto the situation. This can make your child uncomfortable especially if they are in their teens.
7. Today’s parents struggle with setting limits in general. If your child asks to have a sleepover with her mutual crush, say no but in a respectful way. Keep in mind that when it comes to crushes, your child can be crushed by your reaction to it. Never belittle or become dramatic about their request, instead be firm and kind. This will ensure that your child does not resort to lying to you.