Thursday, July 17, 2014

The "L" Word

In my 10 years of teaching I have had my fair share of students telling me they love me. Usually it's been a socially higher student who lets it slip out and I let it slide. I had a girl one time that started saying it quite often so we sat down together and talked about who it is appropriate and who it is not appropriate to say "I love you" to. I would say things like, if you worked at a job, would it be ok to tell your boss "I love you" at the end of the day. "Nooooo", she would say. Throughout the year we work on a variety of boundary lessons, so this is something that is mentioned numerous times during the year. 

Jump forward to this past year. I had a few socially and emotionally lower kids in my room, and the "L" word started flowing. One autistic boy in particular who I am going to say is at about a 3 year old level told me everyday when he was walking out the door "I love you miss Karen". Partway through the year I get a new girl about the same level and in a position in her life where the only caregivers she knows have known her less than 3 months. She was an emotional mess, and after a few months she would tell me every few days that she loved me when I would help her or do something nice for her. THEN I have another autistic young man who every time he gets in trouble (especially at home) feels the need to tell me he loves me because he thinks I am going to be mad at him. So, what do you do? I'm torn between knowing it's not appropriate socially and also since they are with me for 4 years, I am someone they WOULD love. Personally it doesn't bother me at all, but I am sure my school thinks differently. It was never a problem with my higher functioning kids and still isn't, but frankly I am torn as to how I should start the new year with these lower guys.

So, I am curious, how do you handle the "L" word in your classroom? Do you allow it? Am I alone? I could really use advice.


  1. Hello again! This is Heather from TpT. Thank you for your quick response. My email is Thanks again!!

  2. I so understand your struggle. As self-contained teachers, we have our students for 8 hours a day for many consecutive years. As you said, we DO love each other after this amount of time. In my room, I try to teach when it is appropriate to say those words to someone that you love, but that is not family. It's ok on a truly special occasion or when something awesome happens, but not just randomly thorughout the school day or at the end of each day. That's a hard concept to teach, but my kiddos often "get it". Also, you can try to teach an alternative phrase that they can use to share their love, but that is more appropriate. Something like "you are awesome" or "I heart you". These are more socially appropriate somehow! :)

  3. Thanks for responding Erin! I love your ideas, I actually think I will go ahead and try teaching an alternative phrase. I'm kinda liking "you're the best". This is gonna be tough, but i'm looking forward to see how this pans out.

  4. I have been wondering the same thing!! I just finished my first year of teaching in a public school and previously taught in daycare/pre-k where they didn't say "I love you" but would give hugs instead. During this past year I had several students say I love you (in middle school) and I had NO IDEA what to do. I think it's awesome that I have gained their respect and that they depend on me. I think I might try teaching them an alternative phrase as well and incorporate social stories/role play throughout the year. I love my social stories! :D

    Michelle B
    Miss, Hey Miss

  5. Thanks for commenting Michelle. We don't "hug" in my age group and I haven't had a problem with that in the past. Some of my kids are so low that I don't think they will get why they can't say "I love you". Let me know how your alternative phrase goes and I will keep you up to date on mine here. BTW, I have in my "need to work on" folder a worksheet on this. I will send it to you when I finish it!