Helping a Twelve-Year-Old child / student – A great Challenge

R K Moses

Principal, Mount Litera Zee School, India

As an educator, I feel it is the responsibility of both parent and teacher to be aware of the challenges every twelve-year-old child / student goes through. I would like to suggest to all the parents and teachers at the same time that they be watchful and careful in handling the challenges of these youngsters.



Your child / student inches closer every day to being a full-fledged teenager. Fortunately, all of the changes that go along with the teen years—physical, social, emotional and cognitive—happen slowly over a period of a time, so you can prepare.

Twelve-year-olds have their moments of both acting like the child / student you have always known and suddenly turning into a little adult right in front of you. Be prepared for the physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development that happens at this time.

Physical Development

Age 12 is smack-dab in the middle of the years in which a girl begins puberty and right at the beginning of a typical age for a boy to start going through the process.

Emotional Development

Teenage emotions are no joke, and you probably will get a taste of the wild ride over the next year. They love their parents but want nothing to do with them..

They feel victorious and then feel as though they have failed everything. There will be moments of happiness, bumps of sadness, and then it will repeat all over again

This is also the time that kids start to find their leadership skills and begin to understand the idea of giving back to the community. Encourage this by letting them take part in decision-making processes in the home and supporting involvement in community or school activities.

Social Development

Friends are becoming more important than ever, but the opposite sex is climbing in importance, too. Your 12-year-old thinks it’s important to belong, which often means finding independence from parents and other family members, but with that comes the risk of peer pressure.

Cognitive Development

A 12-year-old’s brain has stopped growing in size, but it’s nowhere near done developing. Abstract thinking, problem-solving, and logic are all becoming easier,3 but the prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in impulse control and organizational skills, is still immature.

Speech & Language

By 12, most child / student have a strong command of language and communication skills. They are able to think beyond literal interpretations, and proverbs and idioms won’t fly over their heads anymore. You will probably get your first taste of sarcasm, and they will understand tone, as well as the actual language, in a conversation.


Twelve-year-olds are starting to spend their free time on activities such as organized sports, video games, and social activities with friends. Continue to keep an eye on the amount of screen time your tween is getting and encourage them to stay active, even if they’re not into organized sports.

Other Milestones

Many 12-year-olds begin exploring the morals of their peer group, so don't be surprised if your 12-year-old announces they want to adopt a new lifestyle so they can live like their friends' family or that they want to explore a new religion.

Exploring morality is a normal part of the development process.3 So while it's important to explain your morals and establish rules that promote morality in your household, don't worry too much when your child / student says they don't agree with your beliefs.

When to Be Concerned

Physical and emotional development don’t always go hand-in-hand when a child / student is evolving into a teenager. Don’t be concerned if your child / student doesn’t seem emotionally ready for activities that others their age are doing, or vice versa.

Final Words

It’s time to make sure your child / student has the skills they're going to need to thrive during their teenage years. If they lack social or emotional skills, their struggles may become especially problematic when they enter high school.

Proactively look for areas where your child / student may need some help sharpening their skills. Provide extra support by teaching, guiding, and practicing together. If your support isn’t helpful, seek professional help.

R K Moses

Principal, Mount Litera Zee School, India