Looking for parenting tips on what’s happening with your 11-13 year old son? I’ve worked with over 2,000 boys for more than 20 years in The Quest Project® a 10-week Modern Day Rite of Passage® program. We meet in age appropriate groups: 11 to 13, 14 to 16, and 17 to 19-year-olds. Here I focus on the younger boys, 11-13 years of age.
Tips for Boys 11 to 13
1) At this age male adolescents begin their “journey” to manhood! They are full of awe and wonder, experiencing changes taking place both physical and emotional, and it’s scary for them. You’ll discover they don’t want to talk about it, but would rather you leave them alone and mind your own business!
- My advice: Be patient, set good boundaries and limits and respect the process. Give him space, his behavior is going to change, and he isn’t going to be the sweet little boy you’ve grown accustomed to. Most important, LISTEN for his “gift” (his passion).
2) He is innately watching dad – all the time! That’s right dad, he’s watching your every move whether you realize it or not. He’s deciding if he wants to be like you or not. He is paying attention to how you handle a disagreement with someone. How you change the oil in the car or fix the leaky faucet. How you communicate and interact with your family…he’s watching.
- My advice: LET HIM! Please give him time; a minimum of 3-5 hours a week to just be with you (one-on-one). It’s as simple as that.
3) Pulling away from mom! This isn’t the end of the world mom; he just needs to be with males at this age. He doesn’t want to be babied (unless he decides he wants to)! Your role now is to step back and let him be with dad. A good guide is 60% with dad and 40% with mom.
- My advice: I struggle with this one the most with moms. Most of the moms I meet with are very involved and in many cases are trying hard to be both mom and dad. My advice is consistent on this – a boy at this age needs a healthy male role model/example in his life. Whether it’s dad, grandpa, uncle, coach, stepdad-he needs a man in his life.
4) He’s acting out – way too much! He’s going to test his boundaries at this age; he’s saying things he doesn’t mean like “I hate you” or “I wish you would leave me alone” and so forth. He is testing you on every level!
- My advice: Set strong boundaries and limits; validate his feelings. Work on extinguishing bad behavior and encouraging good behavior. As an example: if you get your homework done, you can play video games for an hour. If you want to go to your friend’s house, you must clean your room up first. It’s give and take, but more importantly, it’s sticking to the rules.
5) He is curious about sex (this is closer to 12 – yes, I said 12)! I know this is uncomfortable, but pull yourself together, he is beginning to think about sex and that is natural. Sadly, most of the boys I see are getting their information from their peers. That is not a good source!
- My advice: Ask that healthy male example in his life to have “the talk” with him-it’s a “guy thing.” When mom attempts this it will feel too embarrassing, so please have dad take the lead on this one.
He’s Growing Up
Generally, and most of the time, dealing with situations with your son takes stepping back and remembering how you felt and acted at the same age. Take a deep breath, remember he needs patience, understanding, guidance and healthy boundaries! You are his best example!
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