Physical Development: Ages 11-13


Growth spurts and puberty’s onset will result in clumsiness and awkwardness. During this period, children are growing fast, and sometimes their bodies are changing faster than they can adapt.

Signs of Puberty

During this stage, girls will start menstruating. They will also start developing physical features earlier than boys do. They will grow pubic hair and breasts, and they will see changes in the way their bodies distribute fat. When boys begin puberty, their voices will deepen, they will start to grow facial hair, and they will experience testicular development. Their muscle mass will increase, and they may grow several inches in height.

During these years, children will also be more aware of their physicality and sexuality and will be focused on whether they are developing too quickly or too slowly. They may spend a lot of time in front of a mirror. It’s important for them to show good personal hygiene, such as using deodorant.

For more information on puberty and sexual development, read the kidcentral tn article.

In other aspects of physical development, children at this stage can:

  • Apply skills and strategies in individual, dual and team sports
  • Participate in a variety of activities that utilize large and small motor skills
  • Cooperate with peers of a diverse population to achieve group goals in a competitive and cooperative setting
  • Follow rules and procedures designed for safe participation
  • Understand the importance of daily physical activity to overall health
  • Perform a variety of activities that promote social interaction and self-expression
  • Learn to adjust coordination skills due to rapid physical growth
  • Employ movement to express thoughts and feelings (You may see some strange dance moves—don’t be alarmed.)

Keep This in Mind

Your child may not be athletic or interested in competitive sports. But that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy an active lifestyle. Experiment with different activities until you find the ones that most interest your child. Give everyone in the family the chance to choose a favorite activity, whether it’s an afternoon hike or a trip to the local skating rink. You might also create a family fitness challenge, setting goals and awarding those with the most miles or minutes logged.

  • If your child does like sports, remember that every sport and activity is different, but there are steps your children can take to protect themselves from concussion and other injuries.
  • Ensure that they follow their coach’s rules for safety and the rules of the sport.
  • Encourage them to practice good sportsmanship at all times.
  • Make sure they wear the right protective equipment for their activity (such as helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards). Protective equipment should fit properly, be well maintained, and be worn consistently and correctly.

Also, don’t fuss if your child sleeps in on weekends. They will be tired as they develop adolescent sleeping patterns and get up later in the morning.