14 Tips for Raising Crush-Worthy Boys


My 8 year old son climbed into the car after school the other day and said, “I know a secret.” These days, that could mean anything, so I tread lightly.

The secret? A girl in his grade has a crush on him.

My first reaction? “Don’t embarrass her.”

Crush WorthyMaybe I should have said something adoring-mother-esque like, “Of course she does! Who wouldn’t love my snuggle-huggle-kins?!”

But this particular eight year old is so serious, so careful about what he shares, so intent on playing it cool, I didn’t want to spook him. So I responded sort of analytically.

“Don’t embarrass her,” I ventured, “It’s a big deal that she even told her friend that she likes you.”

Gauging his reaction in the rearview mirror, I plowed ahead, “Even if you don’t like her back, you don’t want to hurt her feelings. And if you do like her back, even though y’all aren’t allowed to be boyfriend-girlfriend at school, you really don’t want to embarrass her. Did I mention it’s a big deal that she let you find out that she likes you?”

He rolled his eyes and tried to will the molecules of the car door into a gas state so he could pass right on through to the street.

As a mother, it’s possible that I should have taken in the news from my son’s perspective, but instead I was instantly transformed into a pre-tween wrangling with her first crush-like feelings. And I panicked for her just a little.

No matter how loving, kind, and thoughtful we know our kids to be, that doesn’t mean they know how to handle the feelings of an admirer or their own feelings, for that matter. In elementary or middle school? Oh goodness.

This is about kindness. As parents, do we have the opportunity to instill kindness? I think so.

In the coming Valentine season of carnations delivered to class to those lucky few (did your school do that? talk about stomach dropping. I don’t know what was worse: getting a Valentine flower or not.), now is a good time to go over crush-revelation etiquette with our kids. No matter their age.

I asked Facebook friends, “What qualities do you wish you’d seen in your school-age crushes?” Below are tips appropriate for admirable young men from 5 to 55. (only women answered, so we’ll have to do a crush-worthy girl’s edition, as there are some differences)

Here’s to lovelier Valentine’s Days for generations to come!

14 Tips for Raising Crush-Worthy Boys (ones girls won’t regret like-liking):

  • Develop his confidence. 1 of 14
    Develop his confidence.
    "I wish [boys] had been more confident/forthcoming. Found out years later there were a few really nice boys that liked me. I never knew at the time but sure wish I did. I think it's a good lesson to learn (for everyone really) that rejection won't kill you."
    April from April's Little Family
  • Remind him to say hello. 2 of 14
    Remind him to say hello.
    Even if he doesn't know how to respond, simple kindnesses can do wonders for a young girl's self-esteem.

    "I wish they would have been nice and smiled and said hello."
    Heather from Bury Family Life

  • Nudge him to go easy on the teasing. 3 of 14
    Nudge him to go easy on the teasing.
    "Go easy on the teasing. Yes, once we're older we realize it's just how you show your affection and attention, but it usually backfires on sensitive young girls."
    Karen-Jane Wright @ Babble
  • Teach him how to appreciate more than the eye can see. 4 of 14
    Teach him how to appreciate more than the eye can see.
    "My high school crush became my husband... He always made be feel smart...not just pretty. Compliment her brain."
    Meredith at HOO-DEE-HOO
  • Guide him to show humility. 5 of 14
    Guide him to show humility.
    "I wish they'd shown a little humility. There was one guy I had a little crush on who was convinced I worshipped the ground he walked on. That was weird. And offputting. Also don't brag about it if you find a girl has a crush on you. Crappy thing to do."
    Shannon at zchamu dot com
  • Run through Fight or Flight alternatives. 6 of 14
    Run through Fight or Flight alternatives.
    "I have a very vivid memory of a boy giving one of my best friends in 5th grade a teddy bear on Valentine's Day in front of our entire group of friends…and instead of saying thank you she turned and ran away down the hallway. Ah, young love."
    Alie Martell @ Babble
  • Model kindness so he can be kind. 7 of 14
    Model kindness so he can be kind.
    Knowing how to respond when you find out someone has a crush on you is half the battle, regardless of whether you like-like them back. His first response will probably be embarrassment, so help him fight the knee-jerk reaction to laugh it off.

    "They're all trying to figure what attraction means, boys and girls, so if you have figured out a girl has a crush on you, you don't have to let it go to your head. At some point, you too will have a crush on someone who is not interested."
    Wendy at Let the Dog In!

    photo of Quinn at Atlantis Resort Bahamas

  • His friends are going to be a challenge. 8 of 14
    His friends are going to be a challenge.
    If he does like her back, this one may be one of the larger challenges all the way through high school:

    "Treat you the same way around his friends as he does when you're alone."
    Audrey at Audrey Binkowski

  • Point out that not all girls like fart jokes. 9 of 14
    Point out that not all girls like fart jokes.
    "I'd say witty sense of humor. Don't go for the low hanging fruit when it comes to funny."
    Meredith at HOO-DEE-HOO
  • Watch the language there, sailor! 10 of 14
    Watch the language there, sailor!
    "I had a huge crush on this boy in my second-grade class … until he cursed! I was appalled and decided I couldn't marry him right then. Now my stance on cursing is a little more flexible, but it was a huge deal back then!"
    Jillian Capewell @ Babble
  • Focus on compassion. 11 of 14
    Focus on compassion.
    "Not all, but an alarmingly high number of men, cannot access their emotions when those emotions are uncomfortable. A lot of time this has to do with letting a woman know they don't like-like her anymore/enough/whatever, and so their behavior is then received as unkind when probably, they just don't have the skills to communicate what they know is bummer news in a tender way. Yes, I am using like-like as a technical term.

    Focus on compassion and connecting their feelings to their words AND actions."
    Justine at sugarleg

    photo of Quinn at Atlantis Resort Bahamas

  • Give him tips for going the direct route. 12 of 14
    Give him tips for going the direct route.
    "Don't talk to my best friend more than to me because you're shy about liking me."
    Karen-Jane Wright @ Babble
  • Come on, moms are awesome! 13 of 14
    Come on, moms are awesome!
    "Speak highly of your sister and mom."
    Jody at Mommy Moment
  • Nothing beats a gentleman. 14 of 14
    Nothing beats a gentleman.
    "Take up for her. Share your pencils. Save a seat for her. Make her laugh if she is crying. Let her win sometimes."

    Even if she doesn't need it because she's all empowered and all that jazz, nothing beats a gentleman.

    Also, that photo? That's my 8 year old letting me win.

What are your tips for raising crush-worthy kids? What do you wish you’d seen in your school-age crushes?

• • •

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More of Megan on Threadbare Theory:

Disney Hangover: How to Cure Post-Vacation Blues
Why I Love Good Luck Charlie
Ghost Hunting Moms: Haunted Law Firm
(watch our first episode)

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