Eleven years old kicks off the ‘tween, or preteen, years for girls -- the awkward stage between childhood and the teenage years. Along with the bodily changes that the onset of puberty brings are behavioural changes triggered by hormones, social circles, identity crises and desires to assert independence.
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Beginning around this age, children of both genders begin questioning and challenging the rules imposed on them by their families and institutions such as school. They suddenly begin to observe and internalise that authority figures are fallible, and not always right after all. Thus, kids at this age have a sudden need to question everything from school curriculum to bedtime, demanding to know why protocol is as it is and for such standards to make sense and seem fair. The absence of that understanding may lead them to assert their sense of independence by defying or belittling standards imposed by adults.
As puberty causes the production of excess hormones -- combined with social, academic and other pressures weighing in on them -- ‘tween girls are much moodier at this age than they’ve ever been before, and it is considered normal that they snap at parents and others without much cause or warning.
During the preteen years, and on into teenage years, youth begin exhibiting risk-taking behaviours -- experimenting with such things as drugs and alcohol -- because they don’t believe anything bad will ever happen to them.
By age 11, girls are seeking independence and prefer to spend as much time as possible with their peers, and less time with their families. Peer groups become cliquish at this age as well, as children begin enjoying some sense of exclusiveness and secrecy. During this time, they begin facing heightened levels of peer pressure and begin testing parental limits.
By age 11, girls are also displaying heightened interest in members of the opposite sex -- spending more time primping, showing off and teasing. During this stage, girls may also begin experiencing clearer sexual feelings than previously.
During this period, as girls’ bodies are going through rapid changes, 'tween girls believe all eyes are on them. Thus, they dedicate much time to looking their very best at all times, keeping up with new trends and stressing over blemishes and any real or imagined imperfections. At this age, kids are very easily embarrassed.
In the quest for independence and to develop a stronger sense of themselves and their individual identities, preteen girls begin experimenting more with their choices of peer groups, music, hobbies and fashion.
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- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Teenage Growth & Development: 11-14 Years; 2001
- Iowa State University Extension; 9-11 Years Ages & Stages; Lesia Oesterreich; May 2007
- Scholastic; The Moody Blues; Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer
- Selfhelp Magazine; Child Sexual Behaviors: What Is Considered "Normal" Sexual Development and Behavior?; Phil Rich, Ed.D., LlCSW; October 2008