12-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones

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Do you remember all the struggles you faced while growing up? All the confusing emotional and physical changes that suddenly start happening to you and your body. And when you’re a tween, everything feels as though it’s the end of the world. So, you’re now blessed with a moody 12-year-old child yourself, then try your best to understand what they’re going through.

Raising a 12-year-old can be tough, and even more so if you don’t take the time to empathize with what’s going on in their lives. As a parent, you should be aware of all the physical, emotional, cognitive and social changes your child will be going through.

That’s why here at FeedFond we’ve gathered all this information for you. So grab a cup of tea and read on for all of the developmental changes you can expect for your 12-year-old child. 

Physical Development of a 12-Year-Old

12-Year-Old Developmental Milestones - physical development

Physical changes are the most obvious development your tween will have to deal with. So its time for you to anticipate these bodily changes and explain them to your 12-year-old so that they know how to deal with them. You’ll have to give them advice about the regular use of deodorant, the need for daily showers and menstrual hygiene, etc.


At 12 years old, your daughter is probably well into her puberty. Her breasts will be developing and she will have hair in places like the pubic region, legs, and underarms. She’ll have a narrow waist and wider hips, and her hormones will be all over the place, causing her to have acne, oily skin, and greasy hair.

Your daughter will also get taller and heavier. If she hasn’t had her period yet, expect it to come soon. Her peers may have started their periods already, so this is the peak time to explain menstruation and the reproductive system to your daughter.


Boys typically start puberty at the age of 12, which begins with the enlargement of their muscles, penis, and testicles. They’ll also become hairier in the pubic area and armpit regions. Your son’s face might show the beginnings of facial hair which is the key sign of reaching manhood. His baby voice will also start to change and become deeper. 

Related Read: 11-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones

Cognitive Development of a 12-Year-Old

12-Year-Old Developmental Milestones - cognitive development

At 12 years old, your child’s brain has developed completely in terms of size. They’ll be able to organize things better than before, and categorize them by different characteristics like height, thickness, color or topics. They will be able to grasp hypothetical situations and problems. 

However, this does not mean that they have matured. They still won’t have the ability to control their impulses and you can’t expect them to be extremely reasonable either.

Learning Ability

12-year-olds will have a more complex thought process and apply logical thinking to the problems they face. They will also progress with ‘on the spot’ and quick thinking. Kids this age may be a little stressed with school work and life in general, but they should be able to cope with the workload.

They do best with visual and audio learning. You’d be surprised at their argumentative and discussion skills. If you suspect that your child is not learning as quickly as other kids; have a talk with their teachers or a professional.

Communication Skills

At this age, your 12-year-old will be able to speak fluently and have a good vocabulary. They will recognize different tones in people’s voices and their insinuation. Idioms and metaphors won’t confuse your child anymore. They will also understand “grown-up” humor. In fact, your child might even start to give sarcastic responses, much to your dismay.

Your child will become much more expressive than last year. They will know how to talk to different kinds of people and they will understand behavioral etiquette as well. You no longer have to actively remind them to say ‘sorry’ or ‘thank you’, or correct their behavior. 

Related Read: Best Toys for 11 Year Old Girls – Gift Ideas & Buyer’s Guide

Emotional Development of a 12-Year-Old

12-Year-Old Developmental Milestones - emotional development

Along with physical changes, your 12-year-old will go through many emotional changes too.  They are likely to have insecurities and face depression and body image issues at this age, so keep an eye out for any worrying behavior.

Mood Swings

Your child might be happy one moment, and sulking the next. You can also expect rude behavior and rule-breaking, along with a challenging attitude. However, these mood swings are completely normal and not a cause for concern.

Change in Thinking

Your 12-year-old will develop their thinking ability and have their own concepts of right and wrong. They might have a lot of complaints about or differences with family values too. Although they may have self-centered views, this age is the perfect time to teach your kids to do good deeds and give back to the community.

Tweens are also at the stage where they understand there are consequences to their actions. They will understand complex concepts like ‘justice’ and ‘equality’. It’s a time for exploration, so don’t be worried if your child is looking into new ideas like ‘veganism’ or wanting to learn about other religions.

As your child is growing up, you should also address issues of safety with concepts like ‘stranger danger’. It’s also the right time to give your child the ‘sex talk’ and explain how their bodies work. While this might be awkward at first, communicating openly will ultimately make their lives easier. They should also feel as though they can trust you and come to you in times of need. 

Important Read: 10-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones

Social Development of a 12-Year-Old

12-Year-Old Developmental Milestones - social development

At 12, your child will be more socially conscious than ever. They will constantly want to fit in with their peers and at the same time, they will be discovering their individual tastes and choices. They will have their own opinions and dress sense, along with their own hobbies. They’re also likely to have a very active social life. Your child will have close friends, and cliques and will probably want to spend more time with them than with their family.

This is a time when your child may be easily influenced and develop bad habits. Being popular will be the ultimate goal for a tween and during such periods, they may often bully or be bullied. They can be extremely confused about what they should be doing. Always try and steer them in the right direction.

Romantic interests will also be on the rise with your child finally seeing the opposite gender in a different light. 

Additional Read: 8-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones

Other Developments of a 12-Year-Old

12-Year-Old Developmental Milestones - other development

Your child should be physically active at this age and may even want to start group sports activities like soccer, volleyball, and basketball. They will have new hobbies and obsessions which may or may not last. This is the time you should enroll your child into extracurricular activities like karate, dancing, singing and whatever else they might want to do.

The media and the internet will play an important part in your child’s life. Soit is very important to monitor what they watch, without making them feel restricted.


It might be difficult to keep your 12-year child away from soda, chips, and candy, but it is extremely important to give them a healthy diet. Balanced, timely meals will help your child grow properly and allow their brain to develop. Don’t start counting calories, but make sure that they are getting the right amounts of nutrients in their meals.


Roughly 8 to 10 hours of sleep is ideal for a 12-year-old. Your child may not want to go to bed and try to stay up later, but keep in mind that a sleep-deprived child will be even moodier and difficult to handle. This is why sending them off to bed at the right time is very important. Make sure you maintain a strict bedtime and waking up schedule. 

Important Read: 6 Top Parenting Tips from Harvard Psychologists

Final Thoughts

Being a 12 year old isn’t easy. It’s an intensely emotional time with lots of physical changes; after all, your child’s personality is just forming. You should be very involved in your 12-year old’s life, no matter how moody they are. They may be seeking independence, but they’re also emotionally dependent on you.

It is crucial for your child to get proper guidance at this age. And you can only help them if you make the effort to understand their problems. So, now that you have read this article, we hope you are equipped to give your 12-year-old the love, support, and advice they need to grow up into strong and independent little humans.

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