The childhood crush is a rite of passage for most kids. The butterflies, the covert hand-holding or passed notes mean your child is growing up and experiencing new feelings. Of course, for parents, those feelings can equate to stress and confusion, especially if you're not ready to deal with your child's first crush. You can help your child navigate the choppy waters of his crush and make it through unscathed -- and maybe even ready to love again.
If you get a call from another parent about kissing kids or overhear your child talking to a peer in a romantic way, take a breath. Crushes are a natural part of childhood and a way that your child explores himself and his relationship to others. If you scold your child for having a crush, he might mistakenly believe that his feelings are bad in some way. Instead, keep calm and remember your first crush as a way to remind yourself that it's normal. It's the ideal time to open the lines of communication between you and your child, clinical psychologist Stephanie Meiselman, tells FamilyEducation.com.
Talk About It
A crush is an excellent opportunity for you to talk to your child. Whether you're raising a toddler or a teen, it's an ideal time to discuss feelings, love, how to act around other people and boundaries for physical touching. If you really want the 411 on your child's crush, use it as a catalyst to discuss other subjects such as, "Why do you like him?" and "What qualities does he have that you admire?" suggests clinical psychologist Mary C. Lamia in a 2011 article at PsychologyToday.com. Whether the crush is on someone your child knows personally or she's crushing on a celeb, you can learn more about what she values and teach her about healthy relationships.
Having a crush isn't inherently wrong. It usually just means that your child admires someone else for various reasons. However, it's a good idea to put boundaries in place to ensure that a harmless crush doesn't become detrimental, suggests Ruth Peters, a clinical psychologist, on her website. For younger kids, you can talk about it being OK to spend time with a crush, but put limits on physical touch and supervision -- no kissing and ensure an adult is always present. For older kids and teens, it's a good time to talk about safe communication and how to react if the object of the crush wants something more than friendship. Your child should know what is and isn't OK when it comes to interacting with his crush.
Watch for Warning Signs
It is possible for your child to turn a simple crush into something akin to obsession or infatuation. This can become especially dangerous if your child's crush were to reject her in some way. It could affect her self-esteem and self-worth. Watch for warning signs of your child's crush getting out of hand such as a change in schedule to be around that crush, thinking her crush is perfect or missing out on other social opportunities for her crush. Talk to your child about her expectations and the balance of a healthy relationship, suggests Peters.