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Ages 11-14: Getting the cold shoulder or rude look from your tween? Don’t worry, it’s normal

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What’s up with your teen? Giving you the silent treatment? Moody? Even rude?

Well, try not to be offended. It’s actually part of their normal development.

As parents, we often hear the term developmental milestones and know it’s important our children hit these markers at key moments of growth. But what exactly do child development specialists mean by that phrase?

“First, it’s important to remember that every child is an individual,” says Randee Gabriel, Children and Family Services manager at 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast. “There are no two children that will hit every milestone at the exact same time. Still, there are crucial cues to look for at each age.”

Here’s some insight from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what’s normal for your child’s development at this stage.

Late middle childhood (11 years)

This is an important time for children to gain a sense of responsibility, along with their growing independence. Also, physical changes of puberty might be arising by now, especially in girls.

Key developmental milestones:

  • Forming stronger, more complex friendships and peer relationships. It becomes more emotionally important to have friends, especially of the same gender.
  • Experiencing more peer pressure
  • Becoming more aware of their body as puberty approaches. Body image and eating problems may start around this age 
  • Facing more academic challenges at school.
  • Becoming more independent from the family
  • Beginning to understand others’ points of view
  • Attention span increases

Young teens (12 to 14 years)

This is a time of many physical, mental, emotional and social changes. At this age, teens make more of their own choices about friends, sports, studying and school. They become more independent with their own personality and interests, although parents are still very important.

Key developmental milestones:

  • Showing more concern about body image, looks and clothes
  • Focusing on themselves; going back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence
  • Experiencing more moodiness
  • Showing more interest in and influence by peer group
  • Expressing less affection toward parents, even to point of rudeness or short tempers
  • Feeling stress from more challenging schoolwork
  • Developing eating problems
  • Feeling sadness or depression, which can lead to poor grades, alcohol or drug use, unsafe sex and other problems.

Regular screening is essential

 “Every age group brings within itself new changes and skills required,” Gabriel says. “Rescreening at each interval is imperative to identify these shifts and ensure healthy development over the long term.”


• Randee Gabriel, Children and Family Services manager, 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

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