As they stand on the precipice of becoming official teenagers, this can be a challenging time for twelve year olds and their parents.
Your child will continue to experience growth spurts and may start developing adolescent sleeping patterns. Children at this age need on average 10 hours sleep.
Girls: For girls who have started puberty, twelve is the average age to start menstruation. If they have not started already, it may be a good idea to pack a purse with some sanitary items and a change of underwear in your daughter’s school bag so she is prepared. Here is some other good advice about navigating your daughter’s first period.
Your daughter’s body will also be maturing, although this can happen at a different rate from her peers. Sexualisation of girls who mature early or feelings of inadequacy for those who develop more slowly can make girls vulnerable to body issues. Anxiety, depression and eating disorders are all problems that can stem from this, so it is important to talk to your daughter about her changing body.
Boys: Boys will start gaining height and weight, beginning to overtake girls of the same age. You son will also be starting to experience changes in voice, penis and testicle development as well as facial hair growth. Like girls, boys can be extremely conscious of their development compared to peers, which can lead to anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.
Emotions & Relationships
Your twelve year old is starting to learn to handle emotions such as fear, frustration and rejection. They are also developing empathy and learning to value other points of view.
They will start pushing for more independence as they become less emotionally dependent on their parents. Spending time with friends may become preferable over spending time with family, and they may want to start spending more time away from home.
Under the influence of peers, your twelve year old may consider taking risks they previously wouldn’t have. They will start learning about the consequences of choices and actions.
As they begin to develop their own personal values and a sense of self, clothes, culture and media will start to play a more important role as well.
The Internet, Social Media and Technology
In this increasingly digital age, it is not surprising that the Australian Institute of Family Studies reports that last year kids aged 12-13 years spent at least three hours a day looking at screens. With approx. 74% of kids in this age group having access to smart phones, and three quarters of 10-12 year olds having social media accounts, it is important to talk to kids of this age group about personal safety online.
Keeping abreast of the apps and technology your children use is an important part of keeping them safe.
Parenting a 12 year old
- Stay connected and maintain daily rituals with your child, such as chats in the car, family meal times or quite talk at bedtime. Keep the lines of communication open with your child so they feel comfortable talking to you about what is happening for them.
- Modelling positive attitudes towards health and fitness will help build your child’s confidence and set a good example.
- Try not to take outbursts personally. Hormones can be a powerful and confusing force, which can make your child say and do things they don’t mean or even understand.
- Respect your child’s need for growing independence. Set reasonable limits, but keep in mind you may need to re-evaluate your methods of discipline as your child grows.