Pre-adolescence, what it is and tips to manage it

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Pre-adolescence, what it is and tips to manage it

The changes in puberty are physical, sexual, social, mental and emotional, but when the delicate phase begins pre-adolescence and how can we help our children in this time of great changes?

In this article

  • Pre-adolescence, when does it start?
  • The mood swings
  • How to help them?
  • Some practical advice for parents of pre-teens
  • How to promote positive independence during pre-adolescence

Pre-adolescence, when does it start?

Puberty begins when changes in the brain cause sex hormones to be released. In principle, this is what happens:

  • in females around 10/11 years, but the range is between 8 and 13 years
  • in males between 11 and 13 years, but can vary over a period between 9 and 14 years.

We do not know when these hormonal changes, which are the main stimulus for social, emotional and physical transformation, will begin.

During puberty, most children will experience:

  • oily skin (with the well-known acne)
  • fat hair
  • increased sweating and body odor
  • growth spurt (about 11 cm per year in girls and up to 13 cm per year in boys).

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The mood swings

I mood changes and changes in energy level they are normal circumstances in puberty, as is the constant oscillation between the desire to become independent from parents and the request for support on their part.

The pre-adolescent wishes to establish and fix his own identity, and this may push him to create new friendships and social relationships, to have difficulty managing current friendships, even the long-standing ones that have accompanied him throughout his childhood, they want to explore their sexuality and develop the first romantic relationships. And again, at this stage our children need:

  • seek greater responsibility,
  • take care of your own appearance and look,
  • preserve their spaces and privacy.

How to help them?

At this age, boys and girls can alternate between feeling awkward and after a few hours feeling omnipotent. These are common and completely normal changes that show that our child is transforming, is undergoing one of the most extraordinary transformations in life and is becoming an adult.

He is forming his own identity and experimenting with pros and cons independence: tests his decision-making skills and learns to recognize and understand the consequences of his actions.

One of the best strategies we can put in place during the puberty of our children is there reassurance: these are normal changes and even if they can be frightening, they will pass and represent fundamental stages for becoming adults, for transforming the cocoon into a butterfly.

Let us encourage them to take care of their body, but above all because it is important to stay healthy, to take care of their appearance without exaggeration or fanaticism. We offer them a healthy lifestyle.

Read also: 10 tips for managing a preteen child who has become "rebellious"

Some practical advice for parents of pre-teens

  • Praise your child for their efforts, achievement, and positive behavior.
  • Put yourself in your child's shoes and try to see his behavior for what it probably is: your child struggling to become an adult.
  • Try to stay calm during your child's outbursts - wait for the moment of anger to pass before talking about what happened.
  • Stay interested, involved, available to talk.
  • Try to support your child in his self-expression, even if some things seem strange to you, such as an extreme haircut or unusual clothing choices.
  • Try to tolerate long periods of time spent on personal care, such as hours in the bathroom, but talk to your child about reasonable time limits for the family.
  • Talk to your child about any permanent changes they want to make to their body, such as tattoos and piercings, and discuss temporary alternatives, such as henna (removable) tattoos.
  • Talk to your daughter about her period and how to manage her period.
  • Reassure your child that the testicles develop unevenly and it is normal for one to be lower than the other. It may also be helpful to explain that penis size does not affect sexual functioning

How to promote positive independence during pre-adolescence

It is normal that our son des a major independence, but he still needs our support, in this period more than ever. We talk to him about the risks, about how not to put his life in danger while he tries to explore his boundaries. Let's ask him to keep us informed of what he does and where he is.

Finally, let's take some time to accept that our child, our role as parent and family dynamics are changing: we no longer have total control over his choices and his life and can only tell ourselves that we have done our best to prepare him for this moment, that we have faith in him and in all that we have sown in previous years.


  • Young Teens (12-14 years of age)
  • MSD Manuals

  • pre-adolescence
  • puberty
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