Although your daughter may look years older than her age, her emotional intelligence, reasoning, and judgment have a long way to go to catch up to her body. In essence, she may be a girl with the body of an older teen, but her emotional and intellectual makeup remains that of an 11-year-old. Older boys often pursue girls who mature earlier physically and these girls are often flattered and excited by this attention (for example, the freshman girl who is romanced by the senior boy).Although it's usually true that girls do mature socially earlier than boys do, we are not talking here about socialization skills -- we are talking about 11-year-olds dating. I would not belittle or embarrass your daughter by making fun of her sudden attraction to "the guys at school," but I would set clear dating guidelines at this time. Boys and girls socializing together at this age is healthy, but in my opinion, individual dating should not be encouraged or allowed. Because of your daughter's early and rapid physical maturation, you need to be aware that she resist postponing her entrance into the dating world. Make sure that you engage her in an ongoing, age-appropriate dialogue of sex and sexuality as part of her overall childhood development. By the way, consider the fact that although she may protest loudly if you do not let her date for the next couple of years, down deep she may be relieved that she can avoid her own fears about dating by blaming her mom.
Eleven-Year-Old Wants to Date
Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.
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