In many viewpoints, 11 to 12 years of age is the point at which middle childhood ends and the preteens begin. With no true guideline, it’s easy to understand why this can be a particularly awkward stage. Your 11- or 12-year-old is advancing ever closer to the teen stage, but may still be somewhat dependent on you.
Consider these simple guidelines indicating some things to look for as your child continues to advance. Remember that not all children reach milestones exactly at the same rate.
Developmental milestones for 11- and 12-year-olds
- Girl has started developing leg and underarm hair
- Girl has started menstruating
- Boy is becoming more muscular
Language and communication
- Has word and reading skills appropriate for this age group
- Communicates easily with others
- Is pretty good at responding to others’ comments and questions
Social and emotional skills
- Is starting to be somewhat rebellious
- Wants to be a stronger presence in the overall community
- Is particularly interested in getting approval from peers
- Has an increasing ability to use logic
- Wants an allowance
- Has a growing ability for fast, “on-his-feet” thinking
Your more active role
There are ways you can take a more active role in ensuring that your 11- or 12- year-old reaches these kinds of developmental milestones. Consider these:
- If your child hasn’t started showing physical changes like those listed, don’t worry. This age group is just a starting point.
- Recognize that an 11- or 12-year-old’s physical growth may not keep pace with emotional development. Don’t push (or allow) your youngster into a physical activity just because “all the others” are doing it.
- Go to more events in which your child participates. Discuss her abilities with the leader or coach and don’t demand total success. (In fact, try to teach gracious losing.)
- Acknowledge your child’s growing sexuality. If you can’t handle the conversations, look to someone like a teacher or your doctor for help.
- Talk together about ways your 11- or 12-year-old can earn money, from keeping his room clean to helping neighbors rake leaves
- Instill a sense of community by encouraging your youngster in various activities, like cookie sales and local community service projects.
- To fight rebellion (a child’s way of seeking independence) find ways to offer your preteen ways to make decisions. For example, ask her to write down “Things I think I can do alone now,” go over them and choose together.
- Understand social media and make sure you know (and approve of) how your youngster is using it
- Your preteen may want private doctor exams. Respect that.
There are many more resources that can help your preteen grow and develop well. Talk with your child’s pediatrician and consult specialists, if needed, for more help.
See developmental milestones for other ages:
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