What to Expect From Your 13-Year-Old

Goals to strive for and behaviors parents can expect

Here's what you should expect from your 13-year-old.
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Most 13-year-olds are thrilled to officially become teenagers. However, many of them aren't yet mature enough to handle the responsibilities that they think should accompany this new milestone in their lives. Here are some things you can expect from your 13-year-old.

Diet and Nutrition

Your 13-year-old is going to want to decide for herself whether she wants to eat something or not.

As with many things related to teenagers, food is about a teen's choices, not their diets and wellness. They want to have a say.

This is often the reason behind a picky eater. Once you begin to give your 13-year-old child the leeway to make those decisions, you may see he's willing to try new foods.

A key aspect to getting teens to eat better is in the choices you offer them, not in choosing for them. Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy snacks like fruit salads or trail mixes that contain nuts and whole grains. 


Most 13-year-old teens are not so much concerned about sleeping as they are about having a "bedtime" rule. They feel that having a certain time in which they are told to go to bed is childish, and they are no longer a child. 

This is understandable and probably one of the first ways you will see your child stretch his independence muscles. Talk to your teen about the entire family's routine and then compromise on a bedtime that fits into that schedule.

Exercise and Fitness

It is very important for the 13-year-old to get into an exercise and fitness habit. Studies have shown that the more teenagers exercise, the more likely they will carry that good habit into adulthood. 

Parents often feel that if their kids are in sports at school, they are getting the exercise they need.

But organized sports last only one season and don't really help your teen maintain a healthy fitness habit. The federal government and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that adolescents get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days.

Thirteen-year-old teens are a bit clumsy because of their growing bodies. This may lead to one or two accidents when they are playing games or doing fitness exercises.

Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit in your home and car. You may also want to carry your medical insurance card and their Social Security number when you go to their games, just in case.


As they enter adolescence, your 13-year-old may worry about "being normal." They are dealing with their changing bodies. All of this will cause some stress. This stage provides a teachable moment: You can help your child learn how to relax by using healthy activities like exercise, listening to uplifting music or escaping into a good book.

Behaviors, Responsibilities, and Discipline

Because your 13-year-old has been slowly developing independent responsibilities for a few years and is looking for more privileges, now is a good time to offer a little more freedom. Tell your teen he can earn more privileges by demonstrating that he can be responsible.

If he's able to do his chores without reminders and he can get his homework done on time without an adult standing over his shoulder, he may be ready for new responsibilities. If however, he's still struggling to get out of bed in the morning and he can't keep his room clean, he may be showing you he needs more practice before he can be trusted to make decisions on his own.