Growth and Development, Ages 11 to 14 Years - Topic Overview
How do children grow and develop between ages 11 and 14?
The ages 11 through 14 years are often referred to as early adolescence.
These years are an exciting time of many varied and rapid changes. Your child
grows taller and stronger and also starts to feel and think in more mature
ways. You may feel amazed as you watch your child begin to turn into an adult.
But this can be a confusing time for both kids and parents. Both must get used
to the new person the child is becoming.
From ages 11 through 14,
a child develops in four main areas:
- Physical development.
Adolescence is a time of change throughout the body. A growth spurt usually
occurs near the time of
puberty. Girls begin to develop breasts and start
their periods. Boys grow facial hair. Both boys and girls grow pubic hair. Boys
may lag behind girls in height during these years, but they usually end up
- Cognitive development. This is how
the brain develops the abilities to think, learn, reason, and remember. Kids
this age typically focus on the present, but they are starting to understand
that what they do now can have long-term effects. They are also beginning to
see that issues are not just clear-cut and that information can be interpreted
in different ways.
- Emotional and social development. As they start to move from childhood into adulthood,
adolescents feel the urge to be more independent from their families. Often,
friends replace parents as a source of advice. When at home, adolescents may
prefer spending time alone to being part of the family. Still, family support
is important to help them build a strong sense of self.
- Sensory and motor development. Kids this age may be a little awkward or clumsy.
Their brains need time to adjust to longer limbs and bigger bodies. Getting
regular moderate exercise can improve coordination and help your child build
When are routine medical visits needed?
doctor visits are important to detect problems and to make sure your adolescent
is growing and developing as expected. During these visits, the doctor will do a
physical exam and give your child any needed shots. The doctor will also ask
questions about your child's friends, school, and activities to see how he or
she is doing.
It is a good idea to give an adolescent some time
alone with the doctor. This gives your child a chance to ask questions that he
or she may not feel comfortable asking you.
also have yearly dental checkups to make sure their teeth are strong and
When should you call your doctor?
Call your doctor
anytime you have a concern about your child's physical or emotional health,
- A delay in growth or sexual development—for
example, if puberty has not begun by age 14.
- A big change in
appetite or weight.
- Body image problems, such as a girl believing
she is overweight when she is actually very thin. This can be a sign of an
- Signs of mental health
issues, including depression, mood swings, fighting, missing school, or failing
- Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use.
A call or visit to your child's doctor can help you keep
a healthy outlook and know how to recognize a true problem. This may help
relieve tension between you and your child.