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Childhood Milestones age 11

Child development: Your 11 year old

Your child at 11 will be embarking on a period of physical growth at a faster rate than at any time in life except infancy. This will be accompanied by a series of major bodily and hormonal changes in preparation for puberty, as well as increasingly advanced cognitive skills and emotional maturity. Children may also be starting secondary school this year. It is a time of exciting transition but also of rapid and sometimes confusing change for both child and parents.

Age 11: Physical development

If you have a daughter and she has not yet started her growth spurt, it may begin this year. She will typically gain about 3.5 inches in height over the course of a year, along with an increase in weight that is largely due to depositing body fat to create the classic female hourglass shape, with breasts and wider hips. Boys' growth spurt is on average two years later.

In girls especially, the changes of approaching puberty often become increasingly apparent now, as changing hormone levels promote the development of secondary sexual characteristics. In both sexes, this includes the appearance of pubic and underarm hair, along with increased sweat gland activity and oil production in the skin that may promote acne or stronger body odour.

Children may eat more during growth spurts or during periods of higher activity levels, and may show remarkable appetite for a time.

Age 11: Cognitive and language skills

Your child at 11 has an increased capacity for learning and applying the skills they develop. He or she may now be starting to use abstract thinking, such as inferring motives or reasoning hypothetically, but revert to looking at things more concretely at times, especially when under stress. Children may find it easy to discuss the 'who, what, where and when' of events, but have more difficulty with questions of 'why'.

Children at this age are developing better problem-solving skills, which can be promoted by encouraging them to think of different ways to deal with difficulties they encounter, or looking at multiple 'what if...' possibilities. You can help your child to become more self-sufficient by giving them the opportunity to take or contribute to decisions about their own life. Talking through problems with your child also enables them to work out positive ways to combat stress, deal with difficult feelings or handle disputes.

Age 11: Social and emotional growth

By now your child should be taking increasing responsibility for themselves and need minimal prompting to remember to take care of routine tasks such as personal hygiene or homework deadlines, though parents can help with ways to plan and organise their time. Children at this age are often more amenable to reasoning when behavioural difficulties arise, and are increasingly able to contemplate the consequences of their actions. Potential rows can more readily be diffused by humour or calm discussion.

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