What are the developmental milestones of kids from 11 to 17 years old?

As children develop there are multiple milestones that they are typically expected to reach between the ages of 11 to 17. Socially, children will start to spend more time with their peers and begin to try to form their own identity. They will often begin to form new role models, other than their parents. Physically, they will begin to have significant growth spurts and changes associated with puberty. Intellectually, children will start to question rules. They may also develop a sense of "invincibility." 

There will also be large changes during this period from an emotional and behavioral standpoint. In this age group, children may begin to act out or rebel with rule breaking, drugs and fighting. They will be going through emotional and hormonal changes that may lead to frustration;  they want to avoid family and things they used to find enjoyable. Remember, though, that all children will develop at different rates. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, discuss this with his or her doctor.

Your middle- and high-school-age child is becoming an independent learner and thinker, and at this age children often become passionate about subjects and interests that they can relate to. Whether your child is enthusiastic about music, sports, literature, science, or history, encourage and support her interests and recognize that your child is becoming the self-reliant, independent, and life-long learner you’ve always hoped for.

Communication and language skills include:

  • Comprehends and uses analogies, inductive and deductive reasoning
  • Understands metaphors and similes
  • Uses idioms and slang terms
  • Begins understanding ambiguity and sarcasm
  • Masters proper syntax
  • Continues to expand vocabulary
  • Seeks to interact with adults on a more mature level
  • Increasingly able to engage in debate

Cognitive and intellectual skills include:

  • Initiates and carries out tasks without supervision
  • Begins to develop ability to think in much broader terms, recognizes how things are connected to one another
  • Begins to develop advanced reasoning skills, allowing him/her to think about multiple options and possibilities
  • Begins to develop abstract thinking skills, considering things that cannot be seen, heard, or touched
  • Begins to develop metacognition skills allowing him/her to examine how he/she is feeling, what he/she is thinking
  • Sets goals based on feelings of personal needs and priorities
  • Explores topics of interest in depth
  • Enjoys playing with ideas
  • Demonstrates a heightened level of self-consciousness
  • Can handle proportions, algebraic manipulation, and other purely abstract processes
  • Begins seeking own solutions rather than asking adults for assistance

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

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Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.