What to do when dating in middle school

Your tween might show an interest in being more than friends with someone they know.

This is one of many signs your tween is entering adolescence.

Is it spending time together at the mall or movies?

Or maybe it’s just extra texting and a change in her social media status. This is also an opportunity for you to talk about your own expectations for what you believe is appropriate in middle school.

As many parents know, adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 can be the most perplexing and frustrating humans on the planet.

One minute they are happy with life; the next, they hate everything.

It is a peak time of physical growth for boys and girls. Their appearance begins to be important to them so they brush their teeth and shower more. These physical changes often drive behavior, especially when it comes to their burgeoning sexuality—so figuring out when and how to respond is like a high-wire act for parents. They respond more strongly to social rewards like a friend’s approval or disapproval.

One reason that adolescence is such a complicated time is because the brain is still changing. And most teens overwhelmingly prefer the company of their friends over their parents.

If dating in middle school terrifies you, take stock of your concerns.So keeping watch for these changes can be really critical for parents.One recent study from the University of Georgia evaluated the dating habits of 624 students in grades 6 through 12 from six Georgia school districts over a seven-year period.So coupling an adolescent’s risk-taking with his love for reward plus the innate need to establish his own sexual identity can mean that previously innocuous behavior can lead, if unchecked, to high-risk activities. While most people think of dating as getting in the car, picking someone up, and taking them to the movies or dinner, that’s an adult’s definition.In fact, changes in an adolescent’s brain around puberty may contribute to an adolescent's seeking out romantic relationships and expanding them into sexual relationships, says B. Casey, Ph D, director of Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology. Adolescents don’t see dating that way, says Casey Corcoran, program director for Children & Youth at Futures Without Violence. The spectrum of informal to formal relationships is wide,” Corcoran says.

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