What Should I Expect From My 11-Year-Old Daughter?

Reviewed on 7/1/2021
what to expect from 11-year-old girl
Here’s what to expect while parenting an 11-year-old girl and how you can help her

Age 11 often means huge physical, emotional, and cognitive changes in your daughter. During this tween stage, she is making an important transition from childhood to adulthood. 

At this age, your daughter will start to understand the concept of sexuality, expand her intellectual interests, and begin to care more about what her friends think than what her parents think.

Understanding what to expect from an 11-year-old girl can help parents promote healthy development throughout adolescence and into early adulthood.

Developmental milestones for a 11-year-old girl

Physical development

Your daughter is likely just beginning early puberty, which will cause a growth spurt. Growth usually slows down with the first menstrual period, which occurs in most girls between ages 11-14.

Body parts may grow out of sync with each other. For example, her nose, arms, and legs may grow faster than the rest of her body. Other physical development during puberty may include the following:

  • Bone growth, which increases height
  • Increase in skull bone thickness (forehead becomes more prominent, and the jaw grows forward)
  • Weight gain (weight almost doubles during adolescence)
  • Changes in body fat composition (body fat shifts to the pelvis, breasts, and upper back)
  • Growth of underarm hair and pubic hair
  • Increase in the size of internal organs (heart doubles in weight, and the lung size increases)

Cognitive development

At age 11, your daughter is starting to realize that the choices she makes now could have long-term effects. Important cognitive milestones also include the following:

  • They can think more abstractly and understand hypothetical situations.
  • Memory and attention capacity increases. It’s important to help them develop their concentration abilities by giving them opportunities to dedicate themselves to single, focused activities without distraction.
  • Thought patterns are maturing . Many researchers believe that there is a physical change in the brain that occurs and enables teens to start carrying out complex reasoning.
  • Intangible concepts, such as faith, love, trust, the meaning of life, the origins of the world, etc. can be grappled with using more adult cognitive processes.
  • Girls at this age start to display typical teenage behavior, becoming more competitive and wanting to be accepted by a peer group. 

Emotional and social development

As with boys this age, 11-year-old girls will feel the urge to be more independent from their parents and families. 

She may also make friendships based more on shared values and trust rather than common interests. Friends become extremely important to tween girls, helping them navigate the emotional ups and downs of adolescence. Other key milestones include the following:

  • As girls approach their teenage years, they become more egocentric.
  • They may become more self-aware than they were previously and conscious of how others perceive them, both as a person and as to their appearance. 
  • Body image issues may also be triggered by physical bodily changes, which are all new and alien to them. Helping your daughter adopt a positive attitude toward these changes can make this process less daunting and more exciting for them.
  • Worries about leaving elementary school and entering a new school environment can become evident when peers start to discuss different options.

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References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Middle Childhood (9-11 years of age). https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/middle2.html

U.S. Department of Education. Changes -- Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence. https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/adolescence/part4.html

WebMD. Your Daughter at 11: Milestones. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/daughter-11-milestones#1

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