Teenagers and maturity about dating

Take note of how your child reacts when you discuss dating.

It could be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing, but if your child is unable to even discuss it with you without getting defensive or upset, take that as a sign that they probably aren’t ready. Be aware that for many tweens and young teenagers, dating amounts to socializing in a group. It’s important to consider your child as an individual.

While there may be interest between two in particular, it’s not double-dating so much as a group heading out or meeting up at the movies or the mall. Consider their emotional maturity and sense of responsibility.

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Groups play a big role in relaying information about who likes whom.

Even if your son is mooning over a certain girl, most 12-year-olds aren’t really ready for the one-on-one interaction of a true relationship.

It can be alarming and uncomfortable to think about your child dating.

But don’t pretend it’s not happening (or that it won’t at some point), whether your child has brought it up or not.

When you’ve made a decision, be clear with your child about your expectations.

Explain if and how you want your child to check in with you while they’re out, what you consider acceptable and appropriate behavior, and curfew. We may use terms like “puppy love” and “crush” to describe teenage romances, but it’s very real to them.So when it comes to dating, how can you prepare yourself to deal with potential questions and issues? The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that on average, girls begin dating as early as 12 and a half years old, and boys a year older.But it may not be the kind of “dating” you’re picturing.It’s important to acknowledge how your child is feeling without trying to pull them out of sadness.Be patient and sensitive, and remember that sometimes just listening is the best thing you can do.You may be surprised to hear dating labels like “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” and “together” from the lips of your sixth-grader.

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