Puppy love is a hugely exciting time for kids.  This is not the first time they come home and say they have a boyfriend/girlfirend!  Chances are you won’t know the first time your child “falls in love!”  In fact, it is common not to know these things until it is all over and they are dealing with heartache.

So, as a parent, you want to make sure that they have the best information possible to make smart decisions about relationships.

In this blog post, we will give you some tips on how to talk to your tweens about puppy love and how to best handle it.

Keep in mind that every child is different, so tailor the advice to fit your child’s personality and needs.

Establish Trust With Your Tween

Be open and honest with them about your own relationships.  Let them know that it’s okay to talk to you about anything, no matter how personal it may be.

Tell them about your first crush – your puppy love experience, your first date, and any other relationship milestones you may have gone through.  This will help them feel comfortable knowing that you have been here before.  It will also allow them to open up to you about their own relationships.

For example, you could say, “I trust that you will make smart decisions about relationships, and I’m here to help you if you need it.  I want you to feel comfortable talking to me about anything.  I will not judge you and will be as honest with you as I can.”

Puppy Love - establish trust with your tween

Listen To Your Tween’s Thoughts And Feelings About Relationships

Ask them what they think is important in a relationship.  What are the key things that make them happy?  What makes them upset?

This is a great opportunity for you to help them understand healthy relationships vs. unhealthy ones.

For example, you could say, “It sounds like you think it’s important for both people in a relationship to be happy. That’s definitely one key factor in a healthy relationship.”

Here is an article to help you facilitate good communication with your kids; Communicating With Teens: Are You Really Listening To Them?

Handling Puppy Love – Tell Them The Dark Details

They don’t necessarily need to know when you lost your virginity but tell them about any heartbreaks or disappointments.

Let them know about relationships you have had where you thought they were “the one”, but how they turned out not to be.

While we can’t teach them everything through our experiences – yes, mom and dad, they will have to make mistakes on their own – we can help them along the way by sharing.

Don’t beat around the bush – give them real answers and let them know the ins and outs of dating.  Once they have a solid foundation of why people date, then they understand what it is all about and what to expect.  They will also go into any relationship with a much clearer mind which helps with communication.

The Importance Of Respect, Communication And Compromise 

Help your tween understand that these are essential components of any healthy relationship. Without them, relationships can quickly fall apart.

  • The Importance Of Respect

Discuss how respect applies in any relationship, even yours with them!

For example,  “Respecting your partner means treating them with kindness and understanding.  It also means listening to what they have t0 say, even if you don’t agree with them.”

  • Communication Is A Key Factor In Any Healthy Relationship.

Help your tween understand that communication goes both ways.  They need to be willing to listen to their partner just as much as they want their partner to listen to them.

It is also important to understand that being in a relationship does not mean you have to agree on everything!  Sometimes it is the difference of opinions that makes relationships special.

  • Compromise Is Also important.

No relationship is perfect, and disagreements are going to happen.  But, it’s how you handle those disagreements that matter.

Will both people be willing to compromise in order to resolve the issue? Or will it lead to more arguments and resentment?

For example, you could say, “It sounds like you had a disagreement with your partner. What happened?  Did both of you listen to each other to try and resolve the issue?”

In The Puppy Love Stage, Date Only If They Are Truly Ready

Some tweens may be ready to start dating at a young age, while others may not be ready until they’re a little older.  It’s important to let your tween know that you support them no matter what their decision.  There is no rush and you want them to date only if they are truly ready.

For example, you could say, “I know you’re ready to start dating, and I’m here for whatever you need.  However, you don’t Have to date and should agree only if you’re really ready, and they are the right person.  It’s important to take things slow and not rush into anything.”

Check out the book written by Laurie Krasny Brown: What’s the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys

Let Them Know That You Will Always Be There For Them, No Matter What.

No matter what happens in their relationships, let your tween know that you will always be there for them. They can come to you with anything and you will never judge them.

For example, you could say, “I love you and I will always be here for you. No matter what happens in your relationships, I’m here for you.”

Puppy love needs communication and trust

Make Rules To Handle Puppy Love

Lastly, set guidelines for your tween’s puppy love.  Keep these fairly simple as too many guidelines can be confining,and lead to rebellion.  Conversely, no rules leaves a lot of space for trouble and heartbreak.

Possibly, if your child is reasonable enough, work with them together to set rules.  By allowing them to collaborate with you, it will feel less like confinement and more like collaboration.

In a world full of social media and other devious outlets, relationships – especially at a young age – are not what they used to be.  All too often, children may be exposed to things when they are too young to understand.

Wrap Up

There is something to be said for a sound relationship and puppy love in particular.

By teaching your children the foundations of a good relationship and what to look for, hopefully, you will guide them one day into a healthy marriage.   They know what they are looking for, how to communicate and how to appreciate their spouse.

Then, they will both thank you.  

How do you discuss relationships with your children?  We’d love to hear  so please leave a comment below!