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Experts say parents can't do much to protect kids from the bumps and bruises of first crushes beyond keeping the lines of communication open and offering comfort.
Most likely, they're not even thinking about sex at all—but may get freaked out because you are." Let them guide the conversation, and listen carefully to what is really being asked.My daughter was 11 when she went to her first school dance.I put on a brave face as she got out of the car in her polka-dot dress (with a denim jacket for her signature swagger). But what I really wanted to say as she disappeared into the crowd of sixth-grade bravado was, "Wait—come back!"Kids want someone to hear them out and help them make sense of what they're experiencing—not to tell them it'll be over by tomorrow." For many adults who grew up with heat doodles and do-you-like-me-check-yes-or-no notes in middle school, watching their kids hook up and break up via Facebook, Twitter and text feels not only alien but scary, because it's often unsupervised.Try to institute ground rules about "romantic" interaction early on, even before there's any curiosity.This reassures your child that it's okay to be interested in getting to know someone better.
Spelling out the parameters in advance also lessens the possibility of conflict later on.
"Biologically, it's what their bodies are telling them to do—they're in the early stages of puberty.
And socially, it's when they learn to negotiate relationships." But there's some good news for mom and dad: Tweens still want to talk to their parents.
"So you have parents thinking their daughter has never dated while according to her, she's on her third boyfriend," she says. '" Try the same tactic with online activity: Find out whom she chats with and how that person makes her feel. But the point is to get regular conversations going.) As soon as the topic of a possible boyfriend or girlfriend arises, many parents wonder what to discuss.
"It seems silly to parents but is very real to kids." To bridge the gap, Saul suggests listening to your kids' conversations when they're on the phone, or when there's a group of them in the car. "Try saying, 'I heard you and your friends talking about crushes. While it's normal to want to protect your kids, experts suggest slowing down before charging into the condom lecture.
"Of course, the message may be different for each family based on their culture and dynamic," says Fran Harding, director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services center, which tracks teen behavior.