Your son is now officially in his second decade and, while he no longer needs you to hold his hand as much, you still have a valuable role in helping him negotiate the path to adulthood.
His physical skills are now well developed and he might be interested in activities that require coordination, balance, strength and speed. Exercising at least three times a week – with a combination of aerobic, strength and muscle-building activities – is important. The improvement in his fine motor skills show in better handwriting and art.
Cognitively, he’ll have moved on to longer books and he may even be writing his own stories. Better verbal communication skills, enhanced by considering cause and effect more, enable him to present logical arguments and he can hold longer conversations with adults and other children. Mathematically, he’s competent in addition and subtraction and may be tackling multiplication, division and fractions if he hasn’t done so already. School gets more academically challenging and regular homework teaches him how to work independently as well as honing his problem-solving skills. At home, he’ll be able to tackle more complicated chores such as doing the laundry or cooking a meal.
Emotionally, he may be prone to sudden bouts of anger and this is the only time he’s likely to cry. This may be caused by a combination of hormonal changes and him trying to work out who he is and wants to be. Your relationship with him may change as he grows more independent; this can require some adjustment for both of you. He may develop an issue with eating or body image, especially since puberty affects different children at different rates, for example, girls can be heavier and stronger at this age. Exercise, a good diet and helping him build his self-esteem can encourage him to adopt a healthy lifestyle and attitude.
His social circles have changed. It could be important for him to be popular with the “in crowd,” or he may have just one best friend. He’ll still be affectionate with you as it’s not uncommon for a child to feel closer to his mother at this age. He has a strict ethical code and strong sense of justice which can make him more focused on what’s wrong rather than what’s right and the realization that grey areas exist may leave him needing help to build a moral framework. The opposite sex has become more interesting and he’ll show off for the girls though he won’t admit doing it. He may also have platonic same sex crushes. He’s becoming more independent, but not as independent as he thinks, and your quiet support and encouragement can go a long way to help him, especially when faced with major changes like changing schools.
There are other ways you can support him. Encouraging open communication, talking about problems, being honest and consulting him on family decisions gives him the confidence and knowledge to face new challenges and increase his trust in you. You can help him develop his sense of responsibility by setting chores and educating him about sound money management. Safety issues have changed and it’s important to teach him about the risks and what to do to protect himself both online and in the real world. You can facilitate his studies by encouraging him to do his homework, giving him a suitable place to work, and working with his teachers to address issues. Supporting him, praising him for effort as well as achievement and showing him affection helps him feel more secure and confident in himself.
Your son is starting to show stronger hints of who he will be as an adult and your help with enable him to become a man you, and more importantly he, can be proud of.