Firstly, it’s good to be aware that these few years are a time of huge emotional as well as physical change for all 11 – 14 year olds.
There will be times when you feel moody, short-tempered, and sad and may have trouble understanding those feelings and even more in trying to express them to others.
You may have loved physical affection from your parents and now it feels a bit strange and not as welcoming.
Because of this rapid change, which doesn’t happen at the same time to everybody or at the same pace or even in the same way, it can cause some concern in your friendships. People you really got on well with when you were younger, might feel different to you now. Perhaps they are hanging out with other people? Or you just don’t feel the same closeness to them? If you really like them, stick with it, it adjusts in time and if either of you are feeling like you’re growing up at a different pace to the other, or liking different people or music, TV or celebrities, it happens, and you just need to cut each other a bit of slack during this influential period. But it’s also a time when you make new friends, when you get to know yourself better and move on from childish interests and conversations.
As well as your childhood friends and new ones at secondary school, you’ll also probably start to take an interest in having deeper, more intimate friendships with either or both genders. These feelings can seem odd and clumsy to some at first – while others seem to take them totally naturally. It’s an age for exploring your responses and finding out more about yourself and those you are attracted to. You might find that you fancy or think about people of your own sex and this is absolutely fine. It doesn’t mean you are gay, although it might, it just means that you are on the start of a journey of highly sensitive emotions and responses which will guide you towards whatever feels right for you in due course.
While it is a time of dramatic and often bewildering emotional change – perhaps the biggest in your life – it’s also a time to have fun, enjoy finding out about yourself and other people, and having the kind of carefree friendships and relationships that many of us sadly lose as we grow up.
Jo Hemmings is a Behavioural Psychologist, specialising in the media and celebrity analysis as well as a dating and relationship coach and TV and radio personality. She was voted Dating Expert of the Year at the UK Dating Awards in 2016.
Jo is a the Consultant Psychologist on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, regularly appearing on the show, as well as This Morning and BBC, Channel 4, C5 and Sky News. She also helps behind the scenes, in the contestant selection process, by giving psychological advice and assessment to reality TV producers and contestants both during the selection procedure and the series.
Recent reality TV work includes Celebrity Big Brother, Katie Price’s modelling series Signed by Katie, the ITV Tonight documentary Looking for Love and TLC’s new dating show Undressed, with the first series broadcast in July 2016 and the second series in October and November 2016. She is also an occasional presenter of LBC’s Saturday night sex and relationships show.