Rapidly changing bodies, confusion,
excitement, new social situations, and increased reasoning abilities make ages
11 to 14 a thrilling and sometimes challenging time for children and parents.
Watching your child gradually mature is an amazing process. It also can be
puzzling for parents who may wonder during this transition, "Do I have a child
or an adult?" Since neither is the case, you must continually renegotiate your
relationship with and learn about your evolving adolescent.
Although each adolescent develops at his or her individual pace, general
growth and development patterns can be grouped into four main categories.
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Growth spurts occur during the adolescent years, starting at about age 11 in girls and at about age 13 in boys. This rapid
growth usually precedes or accompanies
puberty, when sex characteristics begin to develop. It
is important to reassure your child that his or her physical development is
okay, regardless of whether the changes of puberty seem to be occurring earlier
or later than average.
Cognitive development. This is the
process by which the brain develops the abilities to think, learn, reason, and
remember. Adolescents typically think in concrete ways but are gradually
beginning to grasp abstract and symbolic concepts. Although they understand
long-term consequences, they often do not accept that they can be personally
affected by them. For example, adolescents may know that too much sun exposure
can cause premature aging and skincancer, but many do not accept that this can
happen to them.
Emotional and social development. In
trying to establish their individuality, adolescents typically distance
themselves from parents and prefer being with friends, hanging out in their
rooms or listening to music. It is important to continue to include them in
family events even if you meet with resistance. Family activities help
adolescents develop a strong sense of self. This is especially important at
a time when the
emotional and social effects of puberty can impact