Growth and Development, Ages 11 to 14 Years - Common Concerns
The years 11 through 14 are exciting
and confusing. Many parents have concerns about how their children will handle
the many physical and emotional changes that usually happen during this time.
Some of these common concerns include:
Your child's transition into middle school or junior high. The fear of the unknown and the anticipation of more
homework and uncomfortable social situations can be terrifying for some
adolescents and young teens. Listen to your child's concerns and ask whether
you can help. For example, you may be able to help relieve your child's
anxieties about joining a school-related activity, such as band or a team
sport, by making sure he or she has the right equipment and knows exactly when
and where the practices will be held.
How your child will handle
the challenges of
puberty. The way puberty affects your child may in
part depend on the
timing of puberty—whether your child starts puberty
early, late, or at about the average age. It can help if you
explain the effects of puberty before physical changes
start to happen. Try offering your adolescent age-appropriate books about
puberty. Share some of your own experiences. And reassure your child that it is
normal to feel uncertain at times.
Confusion about what matters to your adolescent. Although you may remember some of the
anxiety of the adolescent years, the specific causes of these anxieties
constantly change. Being involved in your child's life—by going to school
events and encouraging friends to meet at your house while you are home—can
help you understand his or her world.
How to talk about sex. Approach the subject before the information is needed, but don't
expect your child to want to talk about it. Offer information gradually, rather
than overwhelming your adolescent with too many facts at one time. Be aware
that children have easy access to many websites with sexual or pornographic
content. Keep the computer in a shared area where you can see what your child
is doing online. And monitor your child's cell phone use.
Whether your child will avoid tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Do not smoke, drink, or take drugs if you expect your child
to avoid using them. Set firm, fair, and consistent limits for your child. Help
him or her understand the immediate and long-term consequences of substance
use, such as falling grades and poor health during adulthood. Give your child a
chance to practice how to respond when a harmful substance is offered, such as
stating, "No, thanks," and moving on to another subject. Look for community
programs led by youth (peer education). And talk to your child right away if he
or she has
signs of substance use.