Teen Ages and Stages: Your 12-to-13 Year Old

Adolescence Is a Process of Change on Multiple Levels  

It is important for teenagers and those who care for them to understand that some changes have major impact on emotions, behavior and development.  Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D. Ed.D., researcher and author, has left us with helpful profiles by age on these changes.

teen girls

In her book Safeguarding Your Teenager from the Dragons of Life, Dr. Young has given us a fundamental resource that provides a wealth of knowledge to understand the ages and stages of adolescent development. 

That Awkward Year of Transition

 At age 12-to-13 your son or daughter transitions from childhood to adulthood.  Changes on the outside and inside occur during this phase.

  • We now know at this age a significant set of brain changes begin that continue to develop until age of 25.

Our Lakeside staff has worked with many students age 12-to-13, and we can confirm a new level of intellectual development happens. Young teens are curious and eager to learn.  They now have capacity for abstract thought: they now can process issues that are contrary to fact.  They can reason with a stronger sense of motivations behind attitudes and behaviors. They also learn much better when they can experience activities, particularly with peers. 

A host of physical developments occur: 

teen with backpack
Transitional teens are curious and idealistic
  • Adolescent girls grow faster than boys. 
  • Adolescents gain more weight, height, heart size, lung capacity and muscular strength than in their last four years. 
  • Bone growth exceeds muscle development which makes them more clumsy and awkward. 
  • Puberty occurs, and all kinds of changes in sexuality are perceived physically
  • There may be occasional restlessness and listlessness due to metabolic changes. 
  • Cravings for certain foods which sustains growth become apparent. (Girls tend to want more starches and guys want sweets.)

Psychologically, there are mood swings, more introspections, heightened sensitivity to criticism, exaggeration of their emotional responses (drama) and a sense that their problems are focused solely about themselves

Socially, they will need positive relationships with members of the same sex. You can expect intense loyalty to peer groups. In fact, outright cruelty may be expressed to those outside the peer group. During this time, family authority is a critical factor in life decisions. Much volatility occurs: confusion, anxiety, anger and emotional shifts can happen in short periods of time. Basic self-worth is something that needs constant affirmation due to shifting self-perceptions. 

Morally and ethically, 12-to-13 years olds are very idealistic. They have a strong sense of fairness, curiosities about unique or different ideologies than their own and will often explore new life questions without discussions with parents or caregivers. 

Use this information to understand, set expectations and communicate with your 12-to-13 year old adolescents as they launch their journey across the bridge to adulthood.

Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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