With everything today's kids are exposed to on TV, the Internet, and stuff they hear in the lunchroom, they know a lot about sex. Even so, it's important to take the initiative to talk to your tween about the changes that are going on in their bodies. Don't wait for your child to come to you with questions; it's a sensitive subject and they may feel uncomfortable bringing up or even talking about the topic.
During middle school, young bodies begin to mature. Most girls begin going through puberty around the age of 10; for boys it's a little later, at 11 or 12. It helps kids to know what to expect before the changes begin happening, then give them plenty of reassurance that developing breasts and sprouting pubic hair is perfectly normal.
Many tweens worry about their appearance, but it helps them to know that everyone goes through the same changes, although not on the same timetable. Acne, mood changes, and growth spurts are all part of growing up, and it can be just as hard to be the first girl with a training bra as it is to be the last boy to grow facial hair. Your tween may also become more aware of the opposite sex, developing a crush on a special boy or girl or "going out" in groups.
How do you get the conversation started? Many parents assume that since there is so much information out there, they don't need to have the "talk." That's not true: there's a lot of misinformation, too, and kids will naturally have questions about things they hear from friends or see in the movies. As a parent, it's important to take the time to talk to them openly and honestly -- and keep the dialogue going as they continue to develop.