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Home » Age-by-Age Insights »

Preteen & Teen: Ages 12 & Up


Mom: How do you feel? | Teenage Girl: Stop fussing! I can take care of myself! I know how I feel.

Expect to be Needed and to be Rejected

What Kids Experience

As children reach puberty, their hormones go wild. Adolescents want more control over their bodies and they want to decide how to take care of themselves in both sickness and health. Older kids can understand causes at nearly an adult level and anticipate the future. However, they may also be much more emotional about their illnesses than an adult.

Kids at this stage often become very private about their feelings and their bodies. While teens and preteens can react with great maturity, they may also act out in childish but age-appropriate ways. Remember that even if kids this age protest their independence, they still need you.

Preteens still tolerate being nurtured and may even ask for it. However, teenagers will often deny feeling sick until they are completely under the weather, because they need to feel omnipotent. Other times, they will ignore an illness to avoid standing out.

At this stage, kids will respond to illness and injuries in varying ways. While some will claim they're not ill, others may dramatize or exaggerate how they feel and complain loudly about their symptoms. Some preteens and teens may also diagnose themselves theatrically, saying, "I have pneumonia," when they have a cold, or "I can't move," when they've bumped a leg.

Preteens - How You Communicate

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