If you have a child in elementary school, or if your kids have already passed this age, you know first-hand that "dating" starts very early with kids. It is not uncommon these days for kids to starting dating, in a very loose sense of the word, around the middle to the end of their time in elementary school. Of course, many of these relationships last only a few days and involve nothing more than one child asking another to "go out." They may hardly glance at each other, then they may break up a few days later. These kids are innocently testing the waters. However, there is no place they can really go on a date to, and they really don't know what to do once they get into a relationship. Some kids simply "date" this young to boost their social status at school.
More Serious Dating in Elementary School
While most relationship involving young, pre-teen kids are innocent in nature, some are a bit more serious than you may think. It is not entirely unheard of for elementary age kids to date for several months, to buy each other Valentine's and Christmas presents and to celebrity milestone month-anniversaries. Most of these children have not gone through puberty, so there is little to worry about with regards to sexuality. However, the more pressing issue is the emotional development of kids dating at these young ages. You may recall that dating can be very emotional even as an older teen and adult. Younger kids often do not have the maturity that older teens and adults do, so parents should pay special attention to how attached kids are getting to their boyfriends and girlfriends at these young ages.
Moving Into Junior High and High School
More serious dating and relationships, however, often begin in junior high and high school. Dating in high school may be more socially acceptable (and more acceptable by concerned parents) than dating in junior high is. However, once again, much of this dating is experimental, and there often is limited real emotion involved. Many kids date for a few weeks and break up, moving on to new crushes. Others, however, date for six months, twelve months or longer. These are the relationships that kids hang onto emotionally, and they often develop into sexual relationships as well.
Each set of parents will have their own rules regarding dating. Some will allow their child to explore relationships with their oversight and supervision. Others will forbid all forms of dating until their child reaches a certain age. The fact is that all dating, whether superficial or serious, can affect a child's development. Because of this, it is important for parents to regularly monitor their children's love life through open communication and to establish rules and guidelines for dating.
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