A healthy interest in the opposite sex is one of the earmarks of adolescence. Although parents may restrict dating until the age of fifteen or sixteen, teenage girls begin to notice boys much earlier than that. Pairing up into couples in middle school is not uncommon and though pre teens and teens may declare themselves to be "Boyfriend" and "Girlfriend," more times than not, this simply means that they have made a public declaration of their affection for each other and eat lunch together every day in the cafeteria.
Although a healthy interest in boys is perfectly normal at this age, being overly concerned with them and their opinions may lead to the neglect of former interests that once provided much pleasure and satisfaction for your teenage daughter. Although many parents may feel that being "boy crazy" is a normal part of growing up and perfectly harmless, the situation can be harmful when it prevents the teenager from taking part in healthy and enriching activities that nurture the soul and aid in emotional and intellectual development. Here are some tell tale signs that your teenager daughter has crossed over from being interested in boys to the "boy crazy" stage and how you can gently redirect their interests.
Sign: Your Teenage Daughter has a whole new group of friends whose primary interests seem to be boys. Changing groups of friends is normal throughout the teenage years when young people are developing their own identities outside of the family. If your teenage daughter has suddenly traded in her old friends for a group of new ones whose interests do not mesh with anything your daughter was formerly involved in, this may be a sign that your daughter is simply striving to fit in with these new friends and feels conflicted on how to split her time. A heart to heart talk with your teenage daughter will reassure her that she should follow her own heart instead of following the crowd. By encouraging your daughter to share her interest in music, poetry, art or gymnastics with her new friends, she may give the girls something new to focus on besides boys and enrich their lives while holding on to her own passions.
Sign: Your Teenage Daughter has removed all her posters of ballet dancers, ice skaters, famous watercolors and her "Save The Whales" bumper stickers in favor of male pop stars and models. This may just be a phase and passes as quickly as it came on, but it may also be a sign that your teenage daughter is losing her passion for things that were formerly near and dear to her and feels a little lost right now. This is a normal part of adolescence as hormones are busy doing their job and self awareness is at a critical stage. This is also the time when teens are susceptible to peer pressure and low self esteem, so parental involvement is a must. Suggest new activities and hobbies to pursue such as pottery, yoga, journaling, scrap booking, cooking or gardening. You may meet with some resistance at first, but keep at it and eventually something will click. Keeping your teenage daughter immersed in a new activity will busy her mind and body and help her to avoid the pitfalls that this tenuous time can bring.
Sign: Your Teenage Daughter has a new crush every week and spends all her free time chatting with them on the computer and talking to them on the phone. Teenage girls can be quite fickle and place their affections on different people frequently. This is all part of the growing up process where teens become aware of what is important to them and what they are ultimately looking for in a relationship. If your teenage daughter is spending all her free time in front of the computer IM'ing or giggling on the phone with her girlfriends about this boy and that boy, some gentle redirection may be in order. Limit her time on the computer and the telephone in favor of easy household chores, taking walks together, helping with dinner, or watching a movie together as a family. By reducing the time spent focusing on boys and replacing it with other activities done together, you are providing easy and relaxed time together for her to share her feelings. These activities will also help to refocus your teenage daughter's attention and remind her that there are many worthwhile things in life in which to expend her energy on that doesn't need to include members of the opposite sex.
Talk to Your Tween Daughter About Boys
Is your tween daughter taking an interest in boys? Is she ready to date or meet boys out of the house? That is only something that you as a parent can decide. However, you must talk to your daughter when the time is right and set some ground rules or at least establish a dialogue about boys. Follow these steps to talk to your tween daughter about boys.
- You should try to put yourself into her shoes. Things are not the same as when you were a child and in fact, things are not the same as when she was younger. Be willing to adapt your parenting style a little to meet your daughter's changing needs.
- Focus on your relationship with your daughter rather than just the subject of boys. It is important to establish a connection so that she feels comfortable coming to you now and in the future. Bring up the subject of boys and ask her what she knows rather than sharing your wisdom.
- Don't let her try to push you away. Some of these subjects may be embarrassing or she may think that "you don't know anything," but you must stay in her life. Talk every day and not just when you discipline her or have something important to say. Once she has discussed her feelings on boys, work together to come up with appropriate rules.
- Understand that your tween is already anxious about adolescence and maybe boys as well. There is a lot of peer pressure and your daughter may not know how to handle it. Put her at ease by telling her that almost every girl her age has felt the same way at one time or another.
- Once you have set some ground rules together, give your tween the freedom to follow these rules without constantly checking up on her. However, schedule some quality time with her alone at least once a week so that she can talk to you about anything. You never know, she may even begin to look forward to this time each week.
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