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Seriously, though, when is your child ready to date? "At this age, kids use dating labels but aren’t ready to have much direct one-on-one interaction beyond maybe sitting together at lunch or recess," says Dale Atkins, Ph D, a family therapist in New York.
"Most of the activity happens in a pack, and communication takes place between friend groups." By 8th grade, dating probably means talking on the phone and hanging out, usually in groups.
Today's precocious preteens often shock parents when they begin to act like teenagers. They’ll astonish you with their ability to conceptualize, to argue brilliantly, and then to do foolish things.“But if he’s so uncomfortable that he gets angry or shuts down or otherwise just can’t continue the conversation, that’s a big sign that he’s not ready for this.” If so, assure your child that there’s no hurry to start dating.Instead, if they answer your questions or seem eager to date, you can steer the conversation toward reassuring them that these feelings are normal. Are they just trying to keep up with their friends?Michelle Anthony, Ph D, a developmental psychologist and learning therapist in Denver, suggests an opening line like: “It sounds like a lot of kids are talking about dating now. ” If you can't tell what dating means to your kid, try discussing dating as shown on TV shows or in movies that are age-appropriate.For instance, Atkins suggests asking your child why they think someone acted the way they did, and whether they made a good or healthy choice. It's your job, as their parent, to figure out if your child is ready to handle the level of dating they have in mind.