Thirteen seems like such a milestone as it is officially in the “teens”. A 13 year old is no longer a child, they are a bonafide teenager. While exciting, it can be a challenging time for both you and your teen. Here are some things you can expect.
As your teenager’s body grows, so does their appetite. They will need plenty of food high in energy, protein and calcium. Their body clock will also change and they will start going to sleep later and be harder to wake up. Sleeping late on the weekend is to be expected.
Physical growth and changes will continue to be at an individual rate and your child may compare themselves to others and be self-conscious.
Acne may start to appear on your child’s face, neck and back as hormones make skin more oily. Sweat glands are also working overtime which can lead to increased body odour. Encourage good personal hygiene including daily showers and an antiperspirant deodorant.
Girls’ breasts will continue to development and menstruation may start if it hasn’t already. There may also be changes in your daughter’s body shape as she grows including wider hips.
Boys will continue to notice growth of their genitals and erections with ejaculation will start happening (including “wet dreams”). His voice will start to change and body and facial hair will start to grow.
Emotions & Relationships
Adolescence can be a rollercoaster of emotions and your 13 year old may be particularly sensitive and uncertain at times. Hormone-induced mood swings may be exacerbated by peer conflicts or stress over school.
They continue to be preoccupied with peers and value their opinions over all others. Self-esteem may be low at this age as they still adjust the changes their body is going through. Body image also continues to be a big issue as do peer relationships, as the opposite sex becomes more interesting. Friendships can continue to be a source of conflict, particularly for girls.
Don’t be surprised if your 13 year old does not want to spend time with you and other adults as much as they did when they were younger. At this age they may become withdrawn at home and want their privacy.
The Internet, Social Media and Technology
13 years old is the official age your child can use social media platforms. As your teenagers will likely want to spend a lot of time on the internet (unsupervised), it is important to talk to them about internet safety.
Pornography, hate sites and harmful content around issues such as self-harm, suicide or substance use can all have a negative impact on your child. There are also some dangerous online challenges targeted at teenagers.
It is also important to talk to them about cyber bullying and the importance of personal privacy online.
Parenting a 13 year old
- Explain physical changes are normal and that everyone develops at a different rate.
- Remember that your child, while maturing on the outside, is still only young and will still need parental guidance and support (however much they deny it).
- Reinforce bedtimes to ensure your child gets enough sleep. This may involve removing devices and other distractions from the bedroom.
- Encourage involvement in team extra-curricular activities to build networks outside of school and encourage physical activity.
- Encourage open communication and let your child know you are always there to talk to them.
- If they are reluctant to talk, here are some great tips on getting your teen to open up.