12 Years

Discover tips, tools, and support for this age

Your child is developing fast during this exciting (and sometimes tiring) time. Their physical features may start to change as their thoughts and opinions develop. As they start to think more maturely and take more responsibility, you can help them set goals!     Learn more about your child’s development, explore resources available in and out of school, and find free activities for kids below.


Skills children develop as they play, learn, speak, act, and move are called milestones. Learn about milestones to help you understand your child's development and act early if you have concerns.

Around 12 years old, many children:

  • Social

    • Are more patient and able to handle frustration
    • Are more able to think and act on their own and less dependent on parents
    • Start develop their own moral principles
    • Are more sensitive about their body and want more privacy
    • Enjoy the chance to take on extra responsibilities
    • May have sudden impulses, sometimes make bad judgments, and get more aggressive
  • Communication

    • Show signs of thoughtful listening
    • Switch between formal, casual, and slang language, based on audience
  • Learning

    • Get better at problem-solving
    • Challenge adult knowledge
    • Use long-term memory to understand and solve complex problems
  • Physical Development

    • Show advanced signs of puberty, including the growth of body hair
    • Have growth spurts at different rates and times
    • Start to develop different sleep patterns, sleeping longer and getting up later
  • Health

    • Have 5 to 6 ounces of grains daily (such as 1 bagel plus 1–2 slices of bread)
    • Have 2 to 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily (such as 1 medium baked potato plus 2 medium carrots)
    • Have 1 ½ cups of fruits daily (such as 1 medium or large apple OR 1 ½ cups 100% fruit juice)
    • Have 5 ounces of meat and beans daily (such as 1 small chicken breast plus ½ cup of beans)
    • Have 3 cups of milk daily
    • Do 1 hour of medium- to high-intensity physical activity each day, including many 15-minute periods of activity
    • Sleep about 9–11 hours per day
    • Stay on schedule with shots

Act early by talking to a doctor, teacher, or social worker if your child:

  • Act Early

    • Goes off topic in conversation often
    • Distances themself from relationships that were close
    • Starts to engage in high-risk behavior, such as using drugs and alcohol
    • Spends more and more time watching TV
    • Gains and loses weight quickly


Find the support your family needs to thrive

School's Out NYC (SONYC)

NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD)

After school program for middle schoolers

SONYC offers a mix of activities, including leadership, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), literacy, academic help, sports, arts, and more.

School Food

NYC Department of Education (DOE)

Free school breakfast and lunch

NYC students can enjoy free breakfast and lunch every school day.

School-Based Health Centers (SBHC)

NYC Department of Education (DOE); NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)

Free health care in schools

Students can get free health care in their school.