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Keep several things in mind as your children start paying attention to the opposite sex: Don't panic if your child tells you he or she is going steady.During elementary school, claiming to have a boyfriend or girlfriend often has much more to do with impressing the child's friends of the same sex than with going out on dates.Children who are immature, easily manipulated or have poor self-esteem are at higher risk for being sexually or emotionally exploited when they date.That's why the decision to allow children to start dating the opposite sex should be based on the parents' values, as well as their insights into how well their children have formed more mature friendships with children of the same sex.An interest in befriending and dating the opposite sex is sometimes seen as a measure of social maturity, but child development researchers disagree with that view.They worry that some of this precocious behavior can lead to problems.David Elkind, a professor of child study at Tufts University in Massachusetts and the author of "The Hurried Child" (Addison Wesley, 1989)."That may interfere with developing more sophisticated heterosexual relationships when the child is older." There's also pressure from the mass media for young children to date earlier.
"You can role-play with your children how to handle getting a phone call from someone when they don't want to talk," said Dr."It happens a few times a week, especially on Friday nights," said Dr.Elliott, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.Stephen Elliott, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.Don't base your decision on when to let your children date on what others their age are doing.