The tween years are a period of considerable change. Once a boy reaches 11 years old, he is no longer a young child, but a preteen who is discovering the world.
At this age, boys undergo a lot of changes physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. Not only do they experience growth spurts in height, but they also have an increasing need to be independent and a desire to be accepted by their peers.
Developmental milestones for an 11-year-old boy
Each child is unique and develops at a different pace, but these developmental milestones are guidelines as to what to expect from an 11-year-old boy.
Big physical changes usually begin at about this age, although they can happen as early as 9 or as late as 14. Milestones in physical development include the following:
- Growth of the testes (sometimes, one testis may grow faster than the other)
- Growth of the penis
- Darkening of the scrotum
- Growth of pubic, underarm, and facial hair
- Signs of puberty
- Production of testosterone that stimulates the testes to produce sperm
- Erections and ejaculation
- Change in voice (voice breaks and eventually deepens)
- Change in body shape and larger muscles
- Sweat glands start to become active and may cause body odor
- Oily hair and skin (sometimes acne)
- Growth spurts and complaints of growing pain and muscle cramps
- Slight physical awkwardness because of sudden increase in height
- Bigger appetite
- Need for more sleep
- Better hand-eye coordination
- Improved handwriting and ability to use various tools
- Ability to master complex integration of upper- and lower-extremity reciprocal actions
Age 11 is when boys find a sense of self-identity, independence, and moral values. Milestones in emotional development include the following:
- Anxious and uncertain about changes in their bodies
- Experience changes in mood and energy levels
- Go back and forth between feeling independent and needing parental support
- Unable to control and express intense emotions in a mature way
- Better at understanding other people’s emotions
- Focus on personal appearance and become more self-conscious about their bodies
- May suffer a drop in self-esteem
- Act without thinking that their actions have consequences
- Develop better decision-making skills
- Argue and question authority figures
- Argue about rules and try to find loopholes in the rules
- Justify misbehavior by giving excuses
- May experience their first crush or puppy love
- Start to resist physical affection from parents
- Begin to think more abstractly
- Promises become important to them
Milestones in social development include the following:
- Try to establish their own identity through new attitudes, haircuts, clothing styles, hobbies, experiences, and friends
- Become more independent and want to do things for themselves more
- Start forming stronger, complex friendships and peer relationships
- Show more interest in friends and less interest in family
- Friends are more likely to influence their appearance, interests, and behaviors
- May experience strong peer pressure (boys struggling with low self-esteem may find it hard to resist negative peer pressure)
- Look for new experiences, including risky ones such as drinking, smoking, or self-harm.
- Think more about right and wrong
- Start developing their own values and moral
- Start to explore their sexual identity and have a new interest in romantic relationships and attractions to peers or celebrities
- May have a first crush or pretend to have crushes to fit in with peers
- Test their limits and push boundaries
- May exhibit antisocial behaviors
- Begin to show a competitive spark at this age, particularly in sports, as they start to spend more time and energy on their hobbies
At the age of 11, boys start thinking more about abstract ideas and not just what they can observe. They get better at organizing thoughts and planning as well. Milestones in cognitive development include the following:
- Begin to rely on news, social media, and peers to get information and form opinions.
- Can argue more than just one side of an issue
- Become more independent from their family
- Develop a greater sense of responsibility and help around the house
- Understand that thoughts are private
- Begin to see others’ point of view
- Start to realize that the choices they make could have long-term effects
- Start predicting the consequences of an action and can plan accordingly
- Start understanding how things are connected
- Have more focus and increased attention span
- Memorize facts more easily.
- Ask more questions and check their work
- May have a rapid change in interests
- May begin to lose interest in school and face academic challenges
Speech and language milestones
Most boys have a fairly large vocabulary by this age. They’re likely to have mastered different styles of language such as slang or inside jokes with friends but more formal language with a teacher.
Any past speech issues usually will be resolved by this time. If speech difficulties are still a problem, they may require speech therapy to correct the issue.
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