A Traditional Developmental View of The Eleven Year-Old

Eleven is a really interesting time in which to observe development; in many ways it is more akin to the six/seven year transformation and change.  That same burst of complete restless energy is there, along with crying outbursts from both girls and boys, and a complete preview of adolescence to come. It is a different energy than children going through the nine year change, where the child is feeling lonely and separated.

Let’s take a closer look at the developmental qualities of an eleven-year old from a traditional perspective:

  • Ten year olds are more friendly and easy-going, in general, than the eleven year old who often has a more oppositional stance.
  • Eleven year olds are on the go and have a great amount of restless energy; it is hard for them to sit still
  • The Gesell Institute book talks about the eleven year old as “slow to respond, quick  to criticize.”
  • Most eleven year olds love food, and live to eat! However, they can really be quite picky and get on “food jags” with absolute preferences.  (These can change though!)
  • Eleven year olds can fight, hit, kick doors, slam doors and yell, swear, talk back and say mean things.  That is just eleven.  The moods of an eleven year old are often at extremes.
  • Eleven year olds generally really enjoy life!  They love to be outside and to collect things.
  • Friendships are very, very important to an eleven year old.
  • Most eleven year olds behave really well away from home and with other adults; just not always mother.
  • There can be a tendency toward colds, flu, ear infections, and general fatigue. By the end of the afternoon, an eleven year old can be quite wild due to fatigue. They can also be sick and miss more school this year than in other years.
  • Tensional outlets can be high
  • Boys show very little evidence of approaching puberty at age eleven; girls have a very individual variations of expression of puberty.  Some have no trace of sexual development, and some do.  Many eleven year olds will have some pubic hair by the time they hit close to age twelve, and many will also show a broader pelvic area.  The average eleven year old, according to the Gesell Institute, will have reached about eighty percent of their adult height and fifty percent of their adult weight.  Breast development may occur; one breast may develop faster than the other breast; breast pain and sensitivity can occur.
  • Many eleven year olds will bathe willingly, but want a large amount of time in which to do this, so then bathing can end up being sporadic if “they don’t have time”.  Some have a new awareness of dental care.
  • Eleven is one of the most tearful ages.  Fear is common.  Eleven year olds may not want to be alone.
  • Eleven year olds, in general, despite all this, are generally happy.
  • They may be jealous and competitive.
  • From the Gesell Institute:  “The child must do his own growing. But the parent can provide the atmosphere which is conducive to good growth.”  Ho hum, parents, ho hum.  Much of the outward manifestations of anger, jealously, fear is actually against their own inner selves at this age.
  • Eleven year olds notice family dynamics much, much more…they really know parents don’t know everything, know that daddy has a temper or is emotionally unavailable, know that mommy has a hard time making decisions, etc.
  • Eleven is one of the worst ages for being kind to younger siblings.
  • Friendships are based less upon “who is around in the neighborhood” and who an eleven year old actually likes.
  • Everything is of interest to an eleven year old!
  • Eleven year olds need snacks!
  • Eleven year olds may need help socially; they may fight and verbally hurt each other as well.
  • Eleven year olds are good about telling the truth about big things, but often will lie to protect themselves.  Boys are more likely to cheat than girls, and girls are more likely to shoplift than boys.

Many blessings,


8 thoughts on “A Traditional Developmental View of The Eleven Year-Old

    • Terri,
      Some of the outward behavior may look similar, but I think the nine year old has such an achy separation and loneliness about it, as opposed to eleven’s completely brash, energetic, restless, rebellious sort of nature.
      Many blessings,

  1. This was the first thing I am seeing this morning and honestly exactly what I need. All of this was on display at our house last night with our newly minted 11 year old. (except for the ho-hum parents – it was one of THOSE nights) Thanks for posting this Carrie. I will read it again and reflect on it this afternoon.

  2. I really appreciate reading this- very interesting, and validating. We have an eleven year old, and she has gone through many changes from when she was nine and ten- many of which I read here!

  3. I have been meaning to reply to this post. This was excellent Carrie! I sent it to Erik and we both had a good giggle on our trip about how accurate it is and also about how perfect the Waldorf curriculum is for children as they develop. I also had a good giggle about this as a new parenting place for us, while I have done 11-12 transitions twice before with my boys, this is the first time going through it while also navigating the changes at age 6. It is very interesting to watch their relationship change – they have been so close and loving since Sam’s birth, but there is a change there now, she is a lot less tolerant and it mirrors the rest of her development. The two can set each other off in ways I never dreamed!

    Life is amazing!

    • Melisa,
      Right? I think 11 year old girl is so different than 11 year old boy….:) ANd you nailed it, lot less tolerance and patience there. Almost the irritability that goes along with hormonal changes!

      Love you!

  4. Pingback: Plans for January | Sure as the World

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