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:
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
Call your doctor
anytime you have a concern about your child's physical or emotional health,
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.
Being the parent of an adolescent can be challenging. Even if your child
pushes you away at times, you still play a very big role in your child’s life.
Try to stay positive and keep the lines of communication open. While it is good
to let your child make decisions, realize that adolescents need and want limits
that are fair and firm.
To promote healthy development:
Throughout these years, it is important to let
adolescents know they are loved and accepted, no matter what happens, even if
at times you don't agree with what they do or how they act.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about adolescent growth and development:
Seeing a doctor:
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
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.
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:
time of trial and error, parents need to offer open, positive communication
while providing clear and fair rules and consistent guidance. You significantly
influence your adolescent's habits and attitudes, choices, and adjustments to
physical changes. But realize that your child's way of doing things does not
have to exactly match your own.
Help your child identify
important issues and be prepared for increasing responsibilities. Allow your
child the freedom to figure things out in his or her own way within the
boundaries you have set. Parents walk a fine line between respecting a teen's
need for independence and privacy and making sure that he or she does not make
mistakes that have lifelong consequences.
physical development by doing the following:
Promote your adolescent's healthy
emotional and social development by doing the
Promote your adolescent's
cognitive development by doing the following:
Promote your adolescent's
sensory and motor development by doing the
Your child's doctor can help
you discuss difficult issues with your adolescent if you ever are having
trouble doing so on your own. Keep in mind that important subjects, such as
sex, should be addressed long before you think your child will face
Talk to your child's doctor if you are concerned about your child's health or other issues. For example:
Call a doctor or a mental health professional if your child
develops behavioral problems or signs of mental health problems. Signs may
Also be aware that these problems can sometimes be
warning signs of suicide.
information, see the topic
Binge Eating Disorder,
Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse, or
Depression in Children and Teens.
Routine checkups (usually once a year) allow your
child's doctor to keep a close eye on your child's general health and
development. You also can discuss any concerns you have during these appointments. It may help you to go with a
list of questions(What is a PDF document?).
These checkups are
important to detect problems and to see if your child is growing and developing
as expected. The doctor will do a
physical exam, suggest any needed shots (immunizations), and ask questions about your child's
social, academic, relationship, and mental health status. For information about
recommended shots, see the topics:
Beginning in adolescence,
most doctors like to spend some time alone with your child during the visit.
Although many state laws are vague about adolescents' and teens' rights to
medical confidentiality, most doctors will clarify expectations with you and
your child. Ideally, you will all agree that anything your child discusses
privately with the doctor will remain confidential, with few exceptions. This
gives your child an opportunity to talk to the doctor about any issue he or she
may not feel comfortable in sharing with you.
teens also need to have regular dental checkups and to be encouraged to brush
and floss regularly. For more information about dental checkups, see the topic
Basic Dental Care.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a
variety of educational materials about parenting,
general growth and development, immunizations, safety, disease prevention, and more. AAP guidelines for various conditions and links to other
organizations are also available.
This American Social Health Association Web site
provides a safe, educational, and fun place for teens to learn about their
sexual health and about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The Web site
aims to help start conversations between parents and teens about sexual health.
If you have questions or concerns about STIs, you can call the STI
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health, from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
This Web site provides a variety of resources about
protecting yourself and your family from Internet crimes. There is information
about Internet safety for children, identity theft, general Internet safety,
and Internet privacy.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism created thecoolspot for 11- to 13-year-olds. It's meant to give preteens and
young teens a picture of alcohol use among their peers. Accurate information is
given about how much teens their age drink. And thecoolspot has information not
only to help teens learn skills to resist the pressure to drink but also to
give them reasons not to drink.
CitationsGutin B, et al. (2005). Relations of moderate and
vigorous physical activity to fitness and fatness in adolescents.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(4):
746–750.Other Works ConsultedAmerican Cancer Society (2009). Child and teen tobacco use. Available online: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_10_2X_Child_and_Teen_Tobacco_Use.asp.Cuijpers P (2002). Effective ingredients of
school-based drug prevention programs: A systematic review. Addictive Behaviors, 27(6): 1009–1023.Dweck CS, Master A (2009). Self-concept. In WB Carey et al., eds., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 4th ed., pp. 427–435. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.Frankowski BL, Committee on Adolescence (2004). Sexual
orientation and adolescents. Pediatrics, 113(6):
1827–1832.Garrison W, Felice ME (2009). Adolescence. In WB Carey et al., eds., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 4th ed., pp. 62–73. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.Hazen E, et al. (2008). Adolescent psychological development: A review. Pediatrics in Review, 29(5): 161–168.Kaplan DW, Love-Osborne KA (2009). Adolescence. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 101–136. New York: McGraw-Hill. Kaul P (2011). Adolescent substance abuse. In WW Hay et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 20th ed., pp. 145–158. New York: McGraw-Hill.King RA (2007). Adolescence. In A Martin, FR Volkmar, eds., Lewis's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 4th ed., pp. 279–291. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Maehr J, Felice ME (2006). Eleven to fourteen years: Early-adolescence—Age of rapid changes. In SD Dixon, MT Stein, eds., Encounters With Children, 4th ed., pp. 535–563. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.Marcell AV (2007). Adolescence. In RM Kliegman et al.,
eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., pp.
60–65. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.Radzik M, et al. (2008). Common concerns of adolescents and their parents. In LS Neinstein et al., eds., Adolescent Health Care: A Practical Guide, 5th ed., pp. 969–972. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Strasburger VC (2009). Media. In WB Carey et al., eds., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 4th ed., pp. 192–200. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.Youngerblade LM, et al. (2009). Peers. In WB Carey et al., eds., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 4th ed., pp. 152–158. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
August 3, 2011
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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