The last post I wrote about the twelve year old was here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/09/10/the-twelve-year-old/. I have a little girl who is almost thirteen now, and I wanted to write some more things about the twelve year old before we move out of this age.
First of all, The Gesell Institute has some things to say about the twelve year old in general terms which most parents find helpful. In general, the age of twelve is more calm and tolerant of everyone around them than eleven year olds. Isn’t that a relief? Twelve year olds tend to be kind of detached with their mothers, and sometimes with their family in general, but friendly. Twelve is also often willing for adults to have some of their own “adult’’ life and not watch too carefully over that. Twelve year olds are more tolerant of siblings (sort of!)…in general, twelve year olds get along well with siblings who are under the age of four and those over the age of sixteen. So, sibling quarreling can still exist. Friends are important, too. Most twelve year olds are branching out to have a larger social circle. I have found this to be true with some homeschooled children, and not true with others. Opportunities to make friends and be a friend are part of being twelve.
Other points about twelve:
- This is the year that many girls mature sexually and have their first menstrual cycle. Usually there is a rapid growth in height and weight at age twelve for girls. By the end of this year, the average girl has achieved more than ninety-five percent of their adult height). Usually there is breast development, a darkening of the nipples, and underarm hair. There is a much wider rate of growth amongst the boys. Many boys and girls are searching for information about sexual intercourse.
- Most twelve year olds feel they can do things that would make an impact on the world in a good way.
- Twelve year olds are enthusiastic!
- Their energy level is typically calming down. Whereas eleven is just talkative, and high energy, twelve year olds seem to be settling in a bit.
- Some twelve year olds really work in spurts and fits. They may even not recover easily from intense activity and may feel tired, develop a cold, and need to rest for a day or two. Good health can actually be a little elusive in twelve year olds, with cold and bronchitis topping the list. They may have stomach or head pain or in the feet.
- They are more likely to be able to remain seated in a chair, although they may still wiggle around, and they still tend to fiddle with their hands.
- The Gesell Institute books make an interesting remark about vision: essentially that the ability to fixate the eyes is dominant at ten, and that the ability to focus is dominate at age eleven. Therefore, “The twelves who show difficulties in their combination of focus and fixation without being aware of any symptoms may be expected to develop symptoms by fourteen, and should then also be more ready to accept and profit by visual help (glasses or visual training). The question of having visual help to improve visual coordination and efficiency at twelve is still as difficult to answer as it was at ten or eleven.”
- Twelve year olds eat a lot. They may not eat a lot at breakfast, but eat a lot throughout the day. They may also be interested in cooking or baking.
- Most twelve year olds go to bed around 9:30 according to the Gesell Institute, with the average waking hour around seven.
- Fit of clothes and what is being worn by other children of the same age may be important to some twelve year olds, both boys and girls.
- The twelve year old who hangs up clothes, and who is neat and careful with clothes, is rare.
- Collecting things is usually still going strong!
- Twelve is not nearly as belligerent, disagreeable and argumentative as age eleven.
- Twelve can have extremes though – love and hate and not a lot in between. Life can be terrible and wonderful.
- Not too tearful an age. Not as much as a fearing age as age eleven.
- A twelve year usually is pretty happy with how things are; they don’t want things to change.
- Usually a twelve year old doesn’t become angry with parents and is less likely to argue back.
- “Twelves can be challenged by their teacher. They are ready to be held in line, to have demands made of them. If a teacher is not too sure of himself, is not too good on discipline, then Twelves lead him a merry pace.” Twelves do want to work.
- Art, music, drama, shop are all favored, as is gym.
- A look ahead to thirteen, which may hit toward the end of the twelfth year: inward, uncommunicative, uncertain about self and other people and the world, a slowing down of the metabolism. Privacy, being in the room alone is all normal, along with suspicious, unfriendly, unhappy…The Gesell Institute says that although many see this as a negative phase, they feel it is positive and “by withdrawing and refusing to share, Thirteen protects something far too fragile and half formed for others to see, his budding personality.”