Ready for Adolescence: Age 11

Coaching Your Child Through New Stages
Ready for Adolescence: Age 11 Hero Image Ready for Adolescence: Age 11 Hero Image

What is The Ready For Adolescence Step?

Age 11 is a great time to prepare your child for the changes and challenges of adolescence, which is why we’ve created the Ready for Adolescence step on the Faith Path. Far too many parents dread the teenage years, and thus, avoid discussing and equipping their child for this major transition in their life. Below you will find practical ideas and resources to help you navigate the important conversations and questions on the near horizon.

We’ve also included some frequently asked questions (see below) that are often posed by parents of early adolescents.

Put It Into Practice

The best way to prepare your child for the transition of adolescence is to set the stage. Mom with daughter, dad with son, or a single parent with either sex should spend time giving their preadolescent child a basic understanding of what’s coming before these exciting transitions begin. Help your child prepare for those changes in a proactive and positive way. Here’s a quick guide to the when and what of that time together:

When: Often parents are concerned that they will overwhelm their preteen or encourage premature curiosity if they jump the gun in preparing them for adolescence. However, a greater concern is the likelihood that someone else will beat you to it. Children are typically ready before their parents, usually around eleven years old. Of course, not all children are the same. That’s why it’s important to spend time with your preteen child, getting a sense of where they are developmentally. Ask God for wisdom about the timing of your conversations.

What: You should plan to address the many areas of change your son or daughter will encounter during the transition to adulthood, especially bodily changes, decision-making, and the changing relationship to you.

  • Body: It’s important to frame the physical changes ahead as much more than a plea for sexual abstinence. Your son or daughter needs a vision for how these internal and external changes will prepare the body for the joys of marriage and the miracle of creating new life.
  • Decision-making: Increasingly, your child will need to make and assume responsibility for his or her own decisions. As you maintain your overall family values in media choices, individual responsibilities (chores, homework, etc.), drugs and alcohol, you also need to direct your son or daughter in how to make wise decisions in areas of health and integrity. The first nine chapters of Proverbs can help guide an early teen on choosing wisdom over folly.
  • Relationship to you: Consider explaining to your preteen that over the next decade your role will progressively change from a teacher to that of a coach. You will begin to guide him or her in the transition toward independence. It is also a great time to intentionally foster relationships with other godly adults who can influence your child’s life.

Next Steps

Here are some practical ideas to get you started:

  • Set aside a special time or trip with your child to go through one of the recommended resources for joint discussion.
  • Create an environment for open communication for your child to share, talk, and discuss topics with you.
  • Listen. Allow your child to share thoughts and questions without being judgmental or quick to give a lecture.
  • Have fun! Your child is much more likely to listen and be open with you if you have established a good relationship by creating fun times.

Additional Resources

Early adolescence FAQs for parents

QUESTION: How early should I talk to my child about relationships, purity, and dating?
ANSWER: Every child is different, but it’s time to discuss purity if any of the following is true:

  • Your adolescent child shows interest in having a girl/boyfriend
  • You notice texts, emails, social media posts, etc. from the opposite sex
  • Your child has any sort of online access including a home computer, mobile phone, iPod Touch, iPad, or any other electronic devices

QUESTION: How can I talk to my daughter about modesty in a fun way?
ANSWER: Go on a shopping trip together and discuss fashion and basic guidelines to tell if something is modest or not. Let her go through the list and tell you what they feel comfortable with. Areas to discuss might include:

  • Length on shorts/skirts: fingertip length is a common standard
  • Proper ways to sit
  • Swimsuit styles: One piece or two? How low on the top? How low on the bottom?
  • Choosing tops: What’s too tight? Too loose? Breasts/cleavage covered when bending forward

QUESTION: How do I help my child set good boundaries for social media?
ANSWER: Set a time to discuss the following questions with him/her:

  • What is a healthy/appropriate amount of time per day to spend online?
  • How will you avoid giving the appearance that you are someone you’re not?
  • Why is it easy for our worth to get wrapped up in what we post or comparing ourselves to what others are doing?
  • What kinds of pictures are or aren’t appropriate to post? (i.e., swimsuit or pajama pictures, photos with too much skin showing, etc.)
  • Emphasize the importance of never responding to someone online, who we don’t know in person.

QUESTION: How do I protect and help my child with temptations they’ll face with technology?
ANSWER: Even if you believe your child isn’t yet tempted, take the following proactive steps:

  • Don’t allow your child to have a computer or TV in his/her room.
  • If they have a mobile device, have them leave it in the kitchen a certain time each night.
  • Limit and monitor text messages.
  • Be careful of the shows you watch in the company of your child to avoid sending mixed messages.
  • Check online parent reviews for content details on any movies, music, and TV shows they want to watch.
  • Set controls/accountability on all TVs, computers, phones and other electronic devices in your home using services such as the following:

QUESTION: How can I expose my child to the influence of other Godly adults to reinforce what we are teaching at home?
ANSWER: When a child enters the adolescent years, it becomes important to help him or her glean from the example and influence of other godly adults, some of whom may become important voices into their life when he/she reaches the rite of passage step of their Faith Path. A few suggestions:

  • Start with extended family including grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. Invite Godly relatives to take an interest in your child’s activities by attending his/her concerts, games, award assemblies, etc. Ask them to invite your child to breakfast or ice cream occasionally to connect and speak into his/her life.
  • When you eat meals with Christian friends, invite your adolescent son/daughter to sit at the adult table rather than with the kids. Simply including him/her in these conversations can help establish a bond with other Godly adults.
  • Introduce yourself to the student pastor and/or a small group leader and ask who he/she considers Godly leaders and volunteers in the student ministry program. You might consider offering to volunteer in the student ministry in order to get to know other adult leaders who might be willing to take a special interest in your child.
  • For more ideas on inviting the influence of other adults into your child’s life, read Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof.

©Inkling Innovations 2019, updated Watermark Community Church 2023.