I thought the most surprising question to ask a mom of a 9-year-old daughter is “Did you know your daughter is probably already in puberty?” The response of disbelief has certainly been greater than I expected.
But I have a feeling that asking a mom if her 5th grade daughter has had her first “crush” will pale in comparison.
When do they start to be interested?
Psychologists tell us that during 5th and 6th grade is when young girls begin to have an interest in boys. Even before they enter middle school, they start talking to each other about their boy interests and these conversations take over more and more of their girl time.
Just as my mission is to help kids navigate puberty, I also feel a responsibility to help parents be in tune with how their daughter’s thoughts and feelings are changing. My intention is not to scare parents but to prepare you for the next part of the “puberty adventure.”
In my opinion, I don’t think you have too much to be concerned about with your 5th or 6th grade daughters. The reason is because the boys in these grades are at least a year behind them in puberty. Most of the intrigue your daughter might feel is probably only being shared with her inner circle of friends. It is highly unlikely that the boy she is talking about even knows she exists.
I’ve written this only to start you thinking about how to respond to these new feelings in your young daughter’s life. This is a very exciting time for her and how you respond to these changes can set the stage for how she handles sharing her relationships with you moving forward.
Here are four things to consider:
1. Try not to ask.
Even though you might now feel very tempted to question your daughter and see if she has an interest in anyone, please use great restraint. If you come on too strong, she will be hesitant to tell you anything. Don’t forget, your daughter is also testing her independence and may not necessarily WANT to share everything with you immediately as she has in the past.
2. Be her driver.
Whenever possible, offer to drive your daughter and her friends to their activities. It is amazing what you can over-hear as they chat away in the car as if you are not even there.
3. Stay positive.
Take some time for introspection and explore how you feel about this new stage in your daughter’s life. This is a milestone for parents and it’s important to work through any fears or apprehensions you might have. This will help you to see your daughter’s experience as separate from yours and probably very different from what you have read in the media. Staying positive will keep you in the conversation with her.
4. Share in her joy.
Your daughter is young and excited about these new feelings. You have time before she acts on them. Let her enjoy the moment while you enjoy watching her begin her journey into the next stage on her path to maturity.