How to Respond When a Student Has a Crush on You

"I Love You"

Author: Kathy McInnis

As you stare at these words on the romantic card, discomfort threatens to derail your plans for the day. The card is from a student. Questions reverberate through your mind. Should I ignore it? Should I report this to my supervisor? Should I confront the student?

How to Respond When a Student Has a Crush on You

A student having a crush on a teacher is not unusual. As early as preschool, children develop strong emotional bonds with teachers. Children under ten years of age may develop romantic attachments to teachers as a way of coping with leaving home each day.

For other students, a teacher may be the only positive role model in their lives. You are their trusted confidante, mentor, and advocate. They look forward to feeling the warmth of your kindness everyday in your classroom.

The following suggestions are ways to respond. Keep in mind, responses can differ depending on the age of the student.

  • Don’t panic. Crushes are normal. Your discomfort is normal. Take a deep breath and proceed cautiously.
  • Ignore the situation. Children (ages 6-11) can be in love today and forget it tomorrow. An older student’s crush may last the entire school year, but as long as they do not act out, there may be no need to address their feelings.
  • Do not ignore the student. Continue treating them as any of your other students. However, you may want to ignore any flirtatious behavior, depending on the age. Flirtations from older students should not be ignored but addressed gently and firmly.
  • Avoid embarrassing your pupil. One of the worst things you can do is to embarrass or humiliate students with crushes. The pain of those negative emotions can cause long-term wounds.
  • Talk to the student privately. Establish professional boundaries and remind the student that you are their teacher, not their peer. Assure them that anything other than a student-teacher relationship is inappropriate. Inform your supervisor of the meeting to protect yourself and your reputation should the student ever retaliate.
  • Parents can become your allies during a conversation conducted with kindness and professionalism. Start the conversation with, “Hello [Parent], this is [Teacher], I need your help with something.” Inform them of the crush but insist that the student not be scolded or disciplined for their feelings. Assure the parents that you are not angry but need them to speak with the child about appropriate boundaries.

Never tolerate retaliation or blackmailing of any kind. Request that authorities get involved if the student becomes abusive or exhibits aggressive behavior.

A teacher’s primary goal is to provide an environment in which all students can learn. Building and maintaining a professional relationship with students will help accomplish this goal. While you may want students to like you, respecting you as a teacher is more important than your popularity.

Remember, every situation is unique. If you feel inadequate dealing with a student’s crush, reach out to a counselor for guidance. For more advice on teaching, check out how to handle special favors.

About the Author

Kathy McInnisKathy McInnis writes inspirational nonfiction. Kathy’s first book, “Companions on My Journey”, is the true story of an abuse survivor. Her essay “The Perfect Day” won third place in the 2021 Florida Tapestry Awards. When she’s not writing, Kathy enjoys hiking, sitting on the beach, or reading a good mystery. Kathy and her husband have three grown children and three grandchildren.

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