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Eleven is all about transition.

Eleven is tricky. It is a period of transition. Eleven is not quite a teenager, and hardly a child, as they are beginning to dip their toes into the changes physically, cognitively, and emotionally that adolescence brings. They are in the process of self-identification, and pushing limits by challenging figures of authority. Yes, even more challenging, with sass included parents.

The brain and cognitive development of Eleven is more logical. Eleven is increasing their speed in cognitive processing, while also developing a greater desire for logic and reason. Your eleven may often want to know more about the why behind the what, and they become better at using reasoning for decision making, rather than emotions. Eleven may become frustrated if statements are made without explanation. This is when the sass and back talking will be high. So, take time for discussion about your reasons, encourage questions, and give Eleven time to form opinions on their own. Parents can also support Eleven by encouraging the left and right brain integration through problem solving. Buy them a rubix cube, play board games, do a puzzle together make sure to make the time now before it becomes even more difficult. Eleven is interested in learning new skills and these are great ways to encourage their cognitive development while maintaining your relationship with Eleven.

While Ten is sassy, Eleven is moody and unpredictable. Eleven is increasingly trying to figure out who they are which leads to internal evaluation that may translate as being at odds with themself and their surroundings. Hearing “I don’t know and I don’t care” becomes a common phrase for them. Eleven may understand that their mood is changing, but being able to regulate it themselves doesn't always come easy. They are sensitive, sometimes to a fault, and may become easily frustrated. Parents, this is a good time to step in and be a calm presence in their storm, and to be the thermostat that models emotional regulation even if it means just sitting with them, silent.

Eleven wants to feel like they belong. They are thoughtful and outgoing with their peers, as they often define their identity and values based on their peer group. Their social network is increasing and working as a team in collaborative groups becomes more desirable. Although, they can become argumentative with peers, and may be more aggressive at home. It may be helpful to do household tasks as a family, so that Eleven feels like they are contributing. Don’t be surprised by push back, as Eleven is also more likely to challenge those in authority: like parents, teachers, coaches, etc., and bend and push their boundaries. Remember they are learning how to express themselves. They are learning more about themselves and their worldview, largely based upon the values and identity of their peer group.

Parents, pick your battles with Eleven. Things like changing their hair, clothing style, or music they listen to is a way for their autonomy to grow and may not be the battle to choose. Whereas, grades and substance use is more concerning. Even among these challenges, time spent as a family is still necessary and accepted by Eleven, especially if you do things together that interest them. Encourage a routine of quality time and events that are done as a family, such as: dinner, going on a hike, family chores, game night, etc. Expect the push, and hold your boundaries, parents!

As Eleven’s desire for logic and reason increases, so does their questions and eagerness to have valid answers. On the other hand, while Eleven may crave a logical explanation, it is also important to allow Eleven to fail. Yes, failure is a good thing! Eleven needs support from their parents, but it is more important for parents to support them through their struggles, rather than trying to fix them. Allow Eleven to fail, and allow them to solve their problems on their own when they can. Their way may not be your way, and that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Their autonomy is developing-- only seven more years until you want them out on their own, what are you doing now to support that transition now?

Eleven is on the move. As they continue to grow and develop physically, their gross motor skills are improving. It’s important for Eleven to have time for group activities. Encourage this growth by allowing time for social interaction and group gatherings, but don’t be discouraged if your Eleven wants to call it quits on that baseball team they’ve been playing with for the last few years. Eleven strives for success and may want to move on and find new things to invest in if they don’t feel competent in what they have been doing. Let them be curious about activities and interests-join them in the exploration.

The physically developing Eleven is likely to experience more illness than in the prior year. Your Eleven may be complaining of headaches more frequently or symptoms that come along with puberty like cramps, growing pains, and acne formation. Although, girls largely vary in growth at this age and their male counterparts usually have not reached their growth spurt quite yet. Boys remain similar in size during the beginning stages of puberty, while significant differences may be present for your Eleven female.

Your Eleven girl may be experiencing stronger signs of puberty, such as increased body fat, pubic and underarm hair growth, breast enlargement, even their first menstrual cycle. This time is vulnerable and awkward for Eleven. Getting plenty of sleep and a balanced diet is needed. As well as parent availability for any questions or concerns they may have. If you are uncertain how to answer these emerging questions, and/or if they are uncomfortable to you, fall back on the science! Books can be great for this age to explore the specifics of how their bodies are changing. Eleven will see right through you if you try to lie or avoid certain topics, and this is a crucial time in their development to increase knowledge and reduce shame about their bodies. For parents who are looking for help and more information on how to address these topics, these links may be helpful: AMAZE, Sex Ed Rescue, Sex Positive Families. Parents, this is your chance to show you are worthy and safe to share knowledge with, use this time so that when they need you later, they won't hesitate to ask. As puberty creeps in, you may also start to smell odors from your Eleven that you are not used to experiencing. A gentle reminder and education about regular bathing and daily deodorant application helps!

We want to reiterate the need for age appropriate sexual education for Eleven because it is incredibly important! Eleven is often confused, so parents need to be available to answer questions and present information in a clear manner. Parents also need to know the difference between sexual curiosity and sexual abuse (or being exposed to non age appropriate sexual information). Eleven wants to know more about the physical and emotional side of a relationship, and it’s normal for Eleven to be curious and ask lots of questions. However, it is not normal for a child to experience guilt, shame, fear, or anger about puberty, sex, or their changing body. This may be a sign of abuse or bullying.

Eleven and Technology

Eleven has never grown up in an age WITHOUT technology, they often know more than their parents and have many avenues of access. For them, it is a constant norm that they rely on tech for fun, distraction, education, and social interaction. The internet has many ups and downs and oftentimes can be very useful. AND, make sure you keep in touch with what technology your Eleven is using. Monitor their social media pages and make sure to “friend” them on any social media platforms they may be using. Also, beware of fake or “shadow” accounts and discuss that social media is a privilege not a right, and that their choices will dictate how much they get to use their social media accounts. Have open discussions as a family about internet and social media usage. If you find your Eleven is struggling with moderating and being apporporatie in their technology use, as a parent this is the time to step in, set boundaries, take a look around their accounts and have transparent conversations around limited ongoing use for short time periods.

Certain behaviors, such as cyberbullying and sexting, can be incredibly harmful. Eleven needs to understand how their presence on the internet may impact others. They often do not realize the digital footprint they leave behind and may not understand the effects of their actions. Educating Eleven on technology and the “footprint” effect as well as the “if you don’t want me to see it, don’t post it” concept. Have them think about a beloved family relative coming across “their post.” How would they feel about it? Helping Eleven to ponder through questions versus dictating rules to them, is key to them learning self responsibility and accountability for ALL their actions.

Regulate their technology, your child’s brain is unable to self-regulate screen time. Parental control apps are still needed for Eleven, as they do not possess the personal self-control to limit and monitor it on their own yet. There are ever-changing apps that warrant concern when children have access to them, apps that allow your child to have contact with strangers, share pictures/videos, and/or apps that help your child hide their browser history, photos, or videos. Concerning apps, to name a few: Youtube (vs Kids Youtube), Tik Tok, Omegle (website), Snapchat, Whisper, Line, Calculator+, HIP and Kik. Remember this is in constant flux, and kids know them before we do! Show curiosity, have them show you with no judgment involved. You can come back to it later “once you have thought about it” and problem solve your concerns as the new sites and apps come along.

The influences of video gaming are similar to other forms of technology, with both positive and negative impacts on development. Areas of concern include: inappropriate lengths of time spent playing games, changes in mood, and decreased social contact. Video games containing violence are thought to influence the emotions of older children, particularly impacting emotional hostility, with a consequent reduction in empathy. Increased and repetitive exposure to violence can be problematic for children, impacting on their behavioral and cognitive responses. When we visually see something, our brains don’t know the difference between what is real or fake. Our physiological response is the same, helping all children to understand this can help them to monitor themselves.

Parents should become familiar with video games played by your child, and maybe become players yourselves, to maintain a relevant connection with your Eleven. You don’t have to like or be good at it! It is about sharing time playing something your child is passionate about. Learn the lingo, the goal of the game, and how your child problem solves in the game..

Eleven’s worldview is developing and they are defining their sense of self. They may compare themselves to others and their identity and values are largely defined by their peer group. Eleven wants to know, “Who am I?” They need information and role models for developing their sense of identity. Whether that’s in politics, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and other cultural contexts. This is where providing Eleven with the education on these topics either online or in book form is valuable for a parent to provide because, parents, they’re going to seek it out on their own. This is a time to remember that when you make something a taboo, or a “no go” for a topic of conversation, Eleven’s will go find answers. Encourage Eleven to spend time around as many types of peoples and environments as possible with you as their guide.

When to seek help

Eleven comes with its joys and its challenges. The roller coaster of emotions is normal. However, if you feel your child’s behavior is different from others their age, if their aggression is out of control or turns into bullying other children, self-harm, changes to eating habits or they are experiencing prolonged emotional distress, then it may be time to seek help from a counselor or play therapist. Parents, it’s also ok to seek out help for yourself if you are struggling to manage the hormonal Eleven.

Maintaining connection with your Eleven is key. One-on-one time with them and making organized family time a consistent priority helps to foster a positive relationship and connection. Allow your Eleven to have input on the family activities, while also allowing them the freedom to spread their wings and spend time socially interacting with peer groups. Helping Eleven to begin to understand the concept of balance between family and peers is necessary before they head into their teen years.

Even though Eleven’s are tricky, you will see glimpses of the child within. As a parent, strive to connect in even silly and obnoxious ways. As a parent, keeping Eleven connected and talking with you is your goal.

Be on the lookout for our upcoming Ages & Stages Courses on our sister site Playful Wisdom. You can get on the waitlist here.



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