Early Adolescence - Ages 11 to 13

Developmental Milestones

  • Increase vocabulary to 40,000 words (nearly double from ages 8-9)
  • Choose friends based on common interests, rather than parent selection
  • Begin the process of sexual maturation, both physically and emotionally
  • Become more interested in community goals — service to others

What's on Their Minds

  • Classify or categorize each other, such as "smart," "sporty," "nerdy," etc.
  • Consider dating, particularly in groups
  • Become conscious and deliberate in their choice of fashion — try to develop a style
  • Want to "fit in"
  • Feel misunderstood by adults, especially parents
  • Believe achievement (in athletics, academics, arts) becomes increasingly important
  • Increase their awareness of popular culture and its clashes with parental values

Building Parent-Child Relationships

  • Set boundaries that respect the strengths of adolescents
  • Acknowledge and talk honestly about sexual feelings, pressures, and misconceptions. Talk openly about the value of sexual abstinence and other healthy choices
  • Balance the peer pressure by continuing to express pride in your adolescent, spending time with your adolescent and his or her friends
  • Reserve time for special activities with your adolescent
  • Acknowledge and talk honestly about alcohol and other drug use
  • Encourage healthy risk-taking, especially in athletic, artistic, and academic domains

Maximize the Camp Experience

  • Include your adolescent in all important decisions about camp
  • Allow child to assume responsibility for camp preparation (e.g., help to shop for necessities, help to pack, help to complete registration forms)
  • Select a camp that builds on your adolescent's individual strengths
  • Consider a camp that concentrates on this age group
  • Arrange some practice time away from home in the months before camp starts

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