"What your tween really wants to talk about are feelings—the way her heart beats faster when she thinks about seeing the boy at band practice, or how good it feels when he says hi," says Benoit.
That's why it's so important to use these years to get closer to your kids while laying the groundwork for healthy relationships during adolescence and beyond, says Benoit."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.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.That's no simple task—kids seem to leapfrog from sweet curiosity about the opposite gender to demanding to know when they're allowed to date to holding hands, kissing and more."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.