School Age Growth and DevelopmentThe middle to late school age years are a time of great change in your child. In addition to starting puberty, his mind will also grow to understand logical and abstract thinking and he will develop the moral standards by which he will live his life. You can also expect him to begin to move away from the family as he develops his own identity and also become more influenced by his friends. Fortunately, this influence is usually limited to outward things, such as hair and clothing styles.
This is a time of growing independence and children at this age want to be considered more responsible. To help foster this sense of responsibility, now is a good time to begin giving your child an allowance. The amount is not very important, but is usually 50 cents to $1.00 per year in age and should be used for special things that your child wants. Managing an allowance will help to teach your child about the value of money and the importance of saving.
While it is also important that your child begin to have regular age appropriate chores (setting or clearing the table, taking out the garbage, cleaning their room, etc.) around the house, these should probably not be tied to his allowance. Positive reinforcement is important for completed chores, and failure to complete chores can be punished by loss of a privilege (TV, videogames, etc.). Allowing your child to have a choice of which chore to do sometimes helps with compliance.
Encourage self esteem and a positive self image in your child by using positive reinforcement and frequent praise for things that he has accomplished. Encourage your child to be curious, explore and take on new challenges. Also be sure to prepare your child for puberty and sexual development and begin sexuality education if you have not already done so, including that abstinence is the safest way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
For more information on your eleven to twelve year old's growth and development:
- Short Children
- Sleep Advice
- Kids' Allowance Calculator
- When Can I Leave My Kids Home Alone?
- When Should Puberty Start?
- Learning Disability Screening Quiz
- Growth Charts
- Starting To Use Deodorant and Controlling BO
School Age Healthy HabitsYou should regularly talk to your child about the proper habits that can help him lead a healthy life. These include getting proper nutrition (eating three meals a day and two nutritious snacks, limiting high sugar and high fat foods, eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low fat dairy products, including 3 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt to meet his calcium needs), regular exercise, adequate sleep (nine hours each night), and participation in extracurricular activities at school and in the community. Begin preparing your child for their plans after graduation.
It is also very important to begin communicating with your child to help prevent him from picking up bad habits, including the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs (including the use of inhalants; especially aerosols and glue; and newer drugs like GHB and Ecstasy which many kids think are safe). Children whose parents talk to them regularly are at much less risk for experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Teach them how to avoid situations where drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes are present and to choose friends who also choose not to use these substances. Emphasize to them that these substances can hurt him, can make him sick, can cause decreased lung function and problems playing sports, and that it is OK to say no. Also, do not let him attend parties that are unsupervised by adults and let him know that he can communicate openly with you about these difficult subjects. Watch for the warning signs of drug use, including a sudden change in your his behavior or personality, decreased performance in school, or changes in which friends he associates with.