An eleven-year-old is in the throws of the middle-school years. Eleven is generally considered the beginning of puberty and many physical and emotion changes are on the horizon, if they’re not already in the works. While each child is an individual and develops at his or her own pace, there are some typical developmental milestones parents can expect to see in the eleventh year. Here are some of the normal things you may expect from an eleven:
Socially, it is still all about the “group” and what everyone else is doing, wearing, saying, etc. Around this age, children may latch on to one particular “best friend” and the relationship can be rather intense and consuming. You may also notice the social life of your eleven-year-old becoming more volatile and it may be a challenge to keep up with what is going on, what’s “in” and who’s “out.” Children this age may start to make changes in their peer group and it may be difficult for parents as some long-established friends may be replaced.
As the social world becomes larger and more important, eleven-year-olds may show a decreased interest in family activities. Hanging out at home with parents and siblings, being affectionate, and other elements of younger childhood are being left behind and, while this is typical, it can be painful for parents to witness and experience during the onset of puberty.
Around eleven, girls start to develop physically and some girls will have their first period at this age (although thirteen-fourteen is the average age). Breasts may start to develop and the body may begin filling out. Boys are not quite there yet and this is the beginning of a an age period where the girls seem taller and more “mature” than the boys. Eleven-year-old boys tend to have a lot of energy and need a great deal of physical exertion. Girls, too, although their changing bodies may create some self-consciousness.
For parents, this is the age to expect some distance and moodiness. It is perfectly normal for eleven-year-olds to begin to pull away from traditional family activities and focus increasingly on the outside world. Doing well in school, sports, with peers, etc. will likely be a primary concern for an eleven. Parents can participate by making sure they have plenty of safe, supportive activities to do. Parents should also stay involved with knowing their child’s friends and their families.
Academics may take a dip in the middle-school years. As expectations increase, some children may have trouble keeping up and many learning disabilities are not noticed or diagnosed until the academic load increases in middle school. Parents can keep an eye out and get involved if the child seems to be struggling to keep up or displaying changes in academic competence. For some, it is a matter of learning time management and study skills, while for other eleven-year-olds, more attention to finding if there are any problems or learning disabilities may be in order.