Understanding your preteen
Children aged from 9 to 11 years are at a stage of fast change and growth.
Most preteens are focused on school, friends and exploring new interests.
They are becoming independent.
To help you support their mental health, it’s important to understand what your child might be experiencing.
This can help you encourage their sense of self and teach them about making healthy choices.
It’s also an opportunity for you to establish expectations about your preteen’s behaviour and personal safety.
Puberty can start at any time between the ages of 8 and 15. It’s triggered by new hormones from the brain sending messages to the body.
Each child has their own experience of the onset of puberty. These are some common changes to expect:
- growth spurts
- changes to body shape
- changes to emotions and moods.
Learn about parenting your child through puberty on the Better Health Channel website.
Sense of self
What we believe about ourselves influences how we behave.
A strong sense of self can help your preteen better navigate school life. It equips them to face peer pressure and adversity.
Help your child develop their identity by continuing to:
As they grow, children receive ideas about gender from the world around them.
They use this to develop their own ideas of what they feel and think about gender and gender roles.
If your preteen is beginning to show gender diverse behaviour, it’s important to protect their mental health and wellbeing.
- listen to them
- have conversations that help them feel accepted and loved
- seek further support for yourself and your child.
Understand more about identity, gender diversity and gender dysphoria on the Raising Children Network website.
Learn if your preteen is too young to understand their gender identity on the Emerging Minds website.
Sex and sexuality
Your preteen child might become curious about sex. This is natural.
Preteen children might start to have crushes. They might also be discovering who they are attracted to.
For preteens, discovering more about their sexuality is a process that can take time.
They will get information from all around them. This might be from friends, online and school sex education classes, among other places.
You can support them by being:
- interested in their perceptions
- receptive to their questions
- prepared with answers pitched to their age and level of readiness.
Find more information to understand sexual development on the Raising Children Network website.