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Newsflash:
Sunday, 25 March 2001

Is Eleven Too Young for Boyfriends?

Written by  Naomi Baum, PhD.

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QHi, my daughter is 11 years old and very popular. She has developed and started her period. I feel that I'm being over protective. I get nervous when she's alone with a boy. She prefers hanging around with just boys. Sometimes there are three or four around. They are all good kids and very polite and come from good homes, but is there something I need to tell her or be doing? I don't want her to get a reputation. She is a very good girl and we do have open communication. Isn't 11 a little too young to have "BOYFRIENDS?"

AIt is natural to feel uncomfortable when our children take a big jump that we aren't necessarily ready for. You say that your daughter is 11, but well developed physically and perhaps emotionally. Yet, this isn't the child you knew a year or two ago. She has taken a leap ahead and sometimes that leaves us parents without our bearings.

Some girls prefer boys, and others prefer girls. Most children will socialize with children of both sexes. It is important that you talk with your daughter about her physical development and the implications of this development. Raising the subjects of sex, pregnancy, birth control and AIDS should be a priority. While she is young, your concerns are legitimate and it's not too early to begin communicating with her about these issues.

Give her information she may be lacking. Children like to give the impression they know it all, but they rarely do. Even if they have sex education in school, there is nothing like hearing it from mom or dad. State clearly what your point of view is while allowing room for questions and discussion. Children need to hear clearly from their parents what their values and limits are. Both values and limits give a feeling of security to children of all ages, including teenagers.

Reading a book about adolescence may help you better understand what to expect, and how to deal with some of the issues that may come up over the course of the next couple years. Remember, that although teenagers get a lot of bad press, most of them are really neat kids who get along well in school and with their families and peers. It sounds like your daughter falls into that category and with such a caring mom hopefully it will stay that way.

Good luck,

Naomi Baum, PhD

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 15:34
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Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum is the Director of the Resilience Unit at The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma and the National School Resilience Project. Her work at ICTP focuses on developing programs to build resilience in communities that have been highly exposed to trauma and stress. She has successfully brought her approach to Biloxi, Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Her work there included seven visits to the city, she trained teachers, social workers, school nurses, and counselors. She has also worked with the population in Haiti following teh earthquake. She has written about Trauma and Resilience in several published articles and books.

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