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You can also consider what other parents are doing.Are lots of kids the same as yours already dating in the true sense of the word?If you want your child to understand your expectations and rules about dating, you need to express them.Don’t let your child learn about dating from their friends or the media.For eighth-graders, dating likely means lots of time spent texting or talking on the phone, sharing images on social media, and hanging out in groups.Some kids may have progressed to hand-holding as well.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.
This kind of group stuff is a safe and healthy way to interact with members of the opposite sex without the awkwardness that a one-on-one scenario can bring. For many kids, 16 seems to be an appropriate age, but it may be entirely suitable for a mature 15-year-old to go on a date, or to make your immature 16-year-old wait a year or two.
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's natural -- and important -- for kids to break away from their parents at this age.
Yet these must be among the most difficult years for any parent. "I think too much is made about self-esteem," says Elkind. But people should feel bad if they have hurt someone or done something wrong. If they have a good role model from early on, they will be less likely to make bad decisions in their rebellious teen years.
When you’ve made a decision, be clear with your child about your expectations.