Tips for Talking to Preteens


Tips for Talking to Preteens

May 9, 2024
A family with preteen children laugh together on the sofa.

Are you a champion to a young person in your life? Champions can be parents, guardians, coaches, mentors, or other family members that a young person trusts to speak openly and honestly with them. 

Preteens are experiencing the physical changes of puberty (which generally begins anywhere from age 8- 14). These young people are concrete thinkers and have a heightened interest in their friends, cliques, and, probably for the first time, romantic partners. Use the tips and guidelines below to start important conversations early, plan for the future, and build trust with preteens. 

Assume No One Else is Talking to Them About Sexual Health

Talking to your young person about healthy relationships and sex is normal. Even so, it’s better to assume that no one else is having these conversations with young people than to think that it’s someone else’s job and letting your preteen fend for themselves. To ease your way in, incorporate little discussions about sex, love, and relationships into other, tangential conversations about TV shows, social media, or schoolroom drama. 

It’s Never Too Early to Start a Conversation

As preteens, young people are increasingly concerned about what their peers think. It’s important to ask them early and often about their friends, classmates, teammates, and other peer relationships. Starting early normalizes conversations and builds a foundation for more to come. Topics you can cover include consent, puberty, and healthy vs unhealthy relationships (romantic or otherwise). 

Use Pop Culture to Start Talking

Try beginning a conversation by bringing up music they listen to, a TV show you watch together, or a movie they recently saw with friends. You might use the plot or lyrics to ask about real life friendships, possible romantic relationships, or questions that the song/show/movie raised. 

For example, “I know you’ve been watching I Woke Up a Vampire lately. How do you feel when you see people on the show kissing, family in love, or holding hands?”

Be an Approachable Champion

An approachable champion may not have all the answers, but they are a trusted adult with an open door for questions and conversations (big and important or small and fun). Check out all our Talking is Power resources for more information.