Tween Dating Tips

It's tricky turf to navigate, but we're here to help. Here are 11 tips for talking to your tweens about dating.

Article Excerpt

When it comes to the age of attraction, it all depends on the kid. For some, those feelings start in late elementary school. For others, it's not until high school. If your 9- or 10-year-old is starting to show romantic interest, however, being proactive is key.

1. Set the stage. Take…

—End of excerpt—

  • Leslie V.

    Tween dating? Really?
    Dating is a minefield enough when adults do it! It seems irresponsible for adults to allow/encourage kids whose bodies have not even woken up, whose friendships are just becoming meaningful, whose awareness of the world outside of themselves is only budding, to suddenly negotiate that territory.

    Crushes are normal and healthy (all systems are go!) and all the great open-ended questions listed in the article can be asked without involving the other kid at all! What makes this person stand out to you? How does he treat girls? What are her friends like? All those are things that can be discovered by OBSERVATION, which is what tweens should be learning, not jumping into the minefield! We have a great opportunity at this age to gently usher them into self-control (no need to write love notes or buy secret gifts or drop hints), to teach them to watch not just what a person says but to see if it lines up with what they do, to be kind without making things awkward, to keep private things private and not rush out and splash feelings all over social media to then regret it in a week.

    Most of us remember completely embarrassing ourselves by writing some note to the clueless boy (or a friend doing it!) and it taking FOREVER (it seemed) to recover enough social grace to be in the same room without turning beet red or stammering. And those poor boys and girls who were the unwilling objects (most of us experienced that, too), put into awkward situations by dewy-eyed suitors, trying to figure out how to say no without crushing them but with enough finality to prevent further attempts. Not to mention the third position, that most of us have been in as well, the friend between the two who knows that one has a crush and is too embarrassed to say anything but who thinks (good grief!) that they can play Cupid and starts dropping hints or creating situations.

    Please! Can’t we teach children how to contain their thoughts, talk to parents, and watch rather than act? Those crushes dissipate so quickly it is unfair to all involved to then have them in a “relationship” (??) that they then have to figure out how to extricate themselves from. How painful… And are we really thinking that this is good preparation for being friends and ultimately marriage?

    Take the kids seriously, yes! TALK, yes! Respect them and protect them from themselves first and from each other! Give them lots of opportunities to talk, give them stuff to think about, and teach self-control and privacy. Advise them not to change their behavior around the person and not to express it on social media or lightly among friends. These kids really do have enough mines in their minefield with their changing hormones and bodies and self-images without having to throw soon-to-be-ex-boyfriends and -girlfriends into the mix.

    • What a very thoughtful reply. I hadn’t thought of tween dating this thoroughly lol… i keep it simple by telling my kids that children + dating is not even a thing that will be entertained. I tell them its ok to have crushes and for now that is enough, that they have decades of their lives to navigate romance. My oldest is in high school now and although parents cant control everything kids do, weve steadily cautioned him to cool his jets. At 15 he still hasn’t had a gf or even kissed a girl. My gosh there is time for all that! Plus there are so many other wonderful and important things that he should be focusing on academically, physically, socially, developmentally, and spiritually that he doesn’t need to be distracted from, and just having fun too! Do not cultivate “romantic feelings” in tweens (children). Its ridiculous. My 11.5 yo also likes boys and i tease her in a fun way but it’s understood that this is all that is allowed during childhood. I didnt date until i graduated from hs and i survived. I married my first bf and that was 30 yrs ago. Zero regrets.


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