The Dangers of Teachers Giving Gifts to Their Students

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Why shouldn’t you give gifts to your students?

  • It can show favouritism
  • It can put pressure on your students to perform
  • Your gift could be inappropriate

As teachers, we often want to find ways to show our students how much we appreciate them. Showing your students how highly you regard them can also work to quickly build relationships with your students. Sometimes, this means giving gifts to our students. While there is nothing wrong with this in principle, there are a few dangers that teachers need to be aware of when it comes to giving gifts to their students. Here are some of the dangers of teachers giving gifts to your students and some advice on how to avoid them.

It can show favouritism

One of the dangers of teachers giving gifts to their students is that it can create a sense of favoritism. If you are constantly giving gifts to one or two students, while neglecting the rest of your class, it can send the message that you prefer those students over others. This can lead to hurt feelings and resentment among your students.

A teacher is kneeling down to give a bunch of flowers to a young student in a uniform. They are both smiling.
Giving gifts to individual students regardless of your reasoning why can be difficult for those who don’t get gifts.

This can also be legally dangerous. In Australia and many other countries around the world, teachers are only allowed to give students gifts under particular circumstances and according to strict guidelines. Before you give any gifts to your students, you need to make sure that you know what is expected of you and what you need to do to protect yourself.

To avoid this, it is important to be thoughtful about the gifts you give and make sure that you are giving them to all of your students, not just your favourites.

It can put pressure on your students to perform

Another danger of teachers giving gifts to their students is that it can put pressure on the students to perform. If you give a student a gift with the expectation that they will do well in school or in a particular subject, it can put a lot of pressure on them. Even if you don’t do this directly, giving a gift to a student could mean that they put themselves under more pressure to not disappoint you.

This can lead to anxiety and stress, which can actually hinder their performance. If you want to give a student a gift, be sure to do it without any expectations attached.

Your gift could be inappropriate

Finally, teachers need to be careful about what types of gifts they give to their students. Avoid giving anything that could be considered inappropriate or offensive. For example, do not give students gifts that are too personal, like clothing or jewelry. 

A blue background with a gift wrapped in brown paper with a string bow being held by two hands.
What you may see as a small, appropriate gift may be perceived differently by your students and their families.

Even something as simple as food can be wrought with danger. You need to be careful even when giving your entire class sweets or snacks as many students have allergies or cannot have certain foods because of cultural reasons. You also need to be incredibly careful of anything with fragrance.

Also, avoid giving students gifts that could be construed as bribes, like gift cards or money. If you are unsure about what type of gift to give, always err on the side of caution and consult with your school’s administration before giving anything to a student.

Should I give gifts to my students at all?

There are so many risks that you take when you give gifts to your students, that it is often better to steer clear of it entirely. While there is nothing wrong with it in principle, there are dangers that teachers need to be aware of. These are not limited to creating a sense of favoritism, putting pressure on the students to perform, and giving inappropriate or offensive gifts. 

The expectations around gift giving do change depending on the culture and country that you are in, but regardless of where you are, you are taking a risk when you give a student a gift. By being mindful of these dangers, teachers can give gifts to their students without any negative consequences.

Do you have any advice for teachers who want to give gifts to their students? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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