Best Toys & Gift Ideas for 12 Year Old Boys in 2019

Those in-between years can be some of the toughest for kids and adults alike. The preteen era is a tough transitional period for many children to navigate, and adults might find it hard to pinpoint the best ways to relate to kids at this age. Maybe the holidays are around the corner, or maybe you’re shopping for a birthday present, or just something to say ‘congratulations’ or ‘I love you.’ Whatever the occasion, we’ve got you covered. Here, you’ll find twenty of the most lauded gifts for twelve-year-old boys. These gifts all aim to be developmentally efficient in some regard, while also being fun. Boys before have loved them, and we think yours will too!

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By Angeline Mirenda:

Enjoy browsing our top ten gifts for twelve-year-olds, presented in our brand new buying guide format!

Our Top 3 Picks

SnapCircuits Electric Kit
  • SnapCircuits Electric Kit
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Electrical Circuits
  • Price: See Here
Owi Solar Robot
  • Owi Solar Robot
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Solar Powered
  • Price: See Here
Darice Art Set
  • Darice Art Set
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 120-Piece
  • Price: See Here
12 Year Old Boys and Their Development

Child development experts already label this age between 12 and 14 as young teenage years. Technically, they are no longer kids but are already budding teenagers and as such this period is often characterized by a lot of physical, mental, social, and emotional changes springing forth from the hormonal changes that signal puberty. Sadly, these hormonal changes can be quite intimidating to kids of this age and thus, may have an impact in the development of a healthier self-concept.

Physical Changes

Boys undergo changes in the depth or hoarseness of their voice, grow facial hair, and begin noticeable changes in both their penises and testes. By the time he reaches 13 he would have added 4 inches, on average, in his height and put on weight because of the rapid development of muscles.

By the time they reach 13, boys will have already overtaken their peers of the opposite sex. By this time, boys are generally stronger than girls. These physical changes can produce a variety of issues that stem from the different rates of individual development. For example, some kids mature a lot earlier than most making them taller, more agile, and more muscular than others. They are often regarded as very popular and are almost always given leadership roles.

Unfortunately, physical growth does not necessarily equate to commensurate cognitive, emotional, and social development. There is a mismatch between others’ expectations and the boy’s actual capabilities. If the child feels he is lagging behind his peers, this can be a major source of anxiety.

Energy Level at this Age

Fueled by their rapid physical growth and development, 12-year-old boys have tons of energy. They actively engage in sports and physical activities as well as in pastimes and hobbies that allow them to spend this energy in a more constructive manner. They also love displaying their skills and talents and as such are often very active in school plays and other scholastic and extracurricular activities.

Growing Familiar with Responsibilities

On the cognitive side of things, 12-year-old boys enjoy being given the opportunity to make their own decisions as well as to take additional responsibilities that will help them strengthen their sense of identity, especially in terms of being an almost near-grown up. Their problem-solving skills are already advanced and are now in the process of advancing their reasoning skills that border on logic and critical thinking.

They are particularly adept at using counterfactual reasoning as an essential element of divergent problem-solving. Kids of this age already have the capacity to contemplate about the different possibilities and or options based on hypothetical concepts and abstract thinking. Twelve-year-old boys are more than capable of imagining a variety of possible outcomes in any given situation. This helps them in making more accurate planning.

Maturity, Influence, and Peers

By this age, kids can already show an increased ability to tolerate frustrations. They are more patient and are able to understand that sometimes they simply cannot get all they want.

Unfortunately, because they are still in the process of building and establishing their own independent identity, it is not uncommon that 12-year-old kids will make poor judgments on certain occasions, become more liable to making sudden impulsive decisions, and engage in arguments or challenge the opinions of others.

These should not be taken as something that is negative since the boy is still in the process of discovering his true identity. This involves becoming less emotionally-dependent on his parents. A 12-year-old boy will already start taking and following through on the different decisions that he makes.

More often than not, his principles will be associated with those held by his friends although the family’s influence will be influenced by his parents’ guidance and values.

At this age, boys will quickly start to reflect on what they see, or mimic what they see others do. This is normal but is also something you want to consider before encouraging too much time behind a screen or in-house. Activities in the home are still great for them, but a working balance is crucial.

12-year-old boys are known to mimic fighting-style movies and tv programs in particular. This is also known to lead to roughhousing with siblings or other kids. In the end, the parent must monitor their son’s behavior and activities.

Arguments and disagreements will be inevitable among peers. This opens the door for competitiveness, which makes team-based, activity based, challenging activities ideal. These toys can be in both the indoor and outdoor categories.

12-year-old boys are more likely not to need t the intervention of an adult when disagreements are in the air. The process may take some arguing and loud pitched voices, but eventually, they will come to an agreement. 12-year-olds are also of the most sound sleepers. Good luck getting them up after that.

Don’t worry, 12-year-olds can be the most appreciative and thankful age group, especially when it comes to understanding. Give them their space, and they will appreciate that.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Toys for 12-Year-Old Boys

Choosing the top 20 toys for kids, especially young boys who will soon enter adolescence, is never easy simply because they are almost at the transition point between childhood and adulthood. But this is also what makes it quite exciting as the choice of the best toy should reflect a clear understanding of their developmental needs. As such, our team of researchers had to scrutinize every toy by making sure that it is not only age-appropriate but also, and more importantly, developmentally-appropriate.

Additionally, we had to read through hundreds of reviews and feedbacks from customers who may have an issue or two about the plaything. For the most part, we had to examine whether these issues are dealbreakers or are simply a matter of opinion.

We then had to look at the overall quality and safety of the product. If it has received recognition from a particular award-giving body, then, we took that into consideration. Of course, we had to include the toymaker’s reputation as this can mean a lot.

Out with the kid stuff

At this age, boys are transitioning into young teens, and will rapidly lose interest in the kid’s stuff they were one thrilled to have. They will quickly learn to reflect on their own choices and wants rather than taking suggestions from you (the parent). That is fine. You can still buy them toys, but ignore the kid stuff as they now do.

Their toys will now be bigger, heavier and perhaps more hazardous. They will be a lot more conscious about what you get them, and will even start to feel insecure about what they play with and what they have, so make sure to consider this, we have.

Toys take on a slightly new meaning, and purpose

We have to consider the fact that these toys will now serve to a degree as a social status icon. At this age, boys will consider their toys a part of their identity and they will affect their confidence in social situations.

If a child does not like their toy at this age but feels as if they are obligated to use it, that can reflect in their social behavior and they will be less compelled or confident to interact with peers. Get them something they can show off and be proud of. A new bike, challenging puzzle, or sports stuff is perfect.

The balance of safety & fun

At this age, it starts to become more difficult to balance safety with fun, as boys will start to prefer exhilarating excitement over calm play time. You will start to notice them pick up on activities that require bikes, balls, running, falling, jumping, and more rough play than ever before.

This means you really need to consider the brands of toys you go with as this will determine the quality. Quality includes safety features as well, and fortunately, most reputable toy manufacturers put this high on their priority list. Don’t go for a cheap bike made of cheap, heavy material.

That will not lead to a good outcome should your 12-year-old boy fall over trying to race his friends. The same goes for sports toys and all other items, such as science learning kits, which quickly become more realistic, and less fake.

Meaning, a science kit with electrical currents will start to have actual electrical currents, and you don’t want to go with a flimsy kit. Always keep in mind brands, and consider who’s reputable and known for quality. Your boy may forget to say thank you, but he will certainly be thankful.

Preferences of a 12-year-old Boy

Preferences aren’t so much that then they are the boy’s loyalties. What he likes, usually has to do with what he’s decided upon at an earlier time, and that will stick with him. I.E. If your boy prefers Mongoose bikes over any other brand of bikes, this is likely to stick, so why not consider his preference?

He probably won’t change them anytime soon. If he doesn’t like toys with hundreds of pieces, he’s probably not going truly appreciate a gift of one that has more than a few parts, even if they are of the highest rated toys for the age group. We made sure to consider the brands and types of toys 12-year-old boys generally prefer, according to consensus.

In summary

Twelve-year-olds are at a crossroads of human development. Just a few more years and they will already be entering the mature world of adulthood. It is for this reason that kids of this age must have the correct toys to help them master the different developmental tasks. Our list of the top toys for 12-year-old boys should serve you well in identifying the best one for your own child.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why does my 12-year-old boy not use the toys that I get for him?

A: You may notice some toys taking up space in the closet or storage without ever being used by your boy. This is normal and happens. At this age, they are picky, and may even change their minds on liking a toy if they find out their friends don’t. Bear with them, and pay attention to what they play with more, and get them more of that same type of toy.

Q: Is it normal for a boy at this age to become overly frustrated with the toys he has?

A: Well, frustration comes at any age with toys, but at this age, they are becoming much more energetic, and tend to have less patience. Let them learn the ropes, and try not to intervene (too much) as that will make things worse.

Q: My boy’s toys go missing and he claims to not know where they went. Is he hiding them, or what?

A: At this age, a boys social life will change, and he will go about making more friends and socializing more. This includes lending toys to friends in hopes to impress them, giving toys away or trading them off. You can regulate this to a degree, but try not to get too much in the way. It helps to accept their decisions for minor things like this.

Q: Is it normal for toys to become broken more often at this age?

A: Absolutely. Your boy will be a bit more rough with toys, and may even take them apart once in a while. This is their new found energy, and curiosity at play.

Q: Our family travels a lot, so we are forever in the car or another transportation mode. I need to know which toys are best for my son to do while traveling and when away from home?

A: The Snap Circuit set, iPod, and Adams Cube are great toys to stay busy while traveling or waiting in places like the doctor’s office or restaurants.

Q: Which items are best for my child to do outside? He needs to spend more time outdoors because he is inside too much.

A: For outdoor fun, choose the Frisbee Rings, Pitching machine, Mountain Bike, Spikeball Combo, Missile Launcher, or Quadcopter Drone, Kan Jam items. These are great for one person but better with several people. Any of these are perfect to take on trips where outdoor activities are welcome.

Q: Which toys are activities that can be enjoyed best by our family as a group or with his friends when they are all together at each other’s houses?

A: The Snap Circuit Kit, Quadcopter Drone, Dinosaur Dig Kit, Science Kit, Missle Pad Launcher, Frisbee Rings, or Suspend Family Game, Pitching Machine, Kan Jam items are all wonderful for group activities.

Q: I need an activity-type toy that my 12-year-old can enjoy doing with his smaller siblings. Which items would keep all ages interested and engaged together?

A: Perfect for groups that include small kids are the Hamper Hoop, LEGO Eiffel Tower, Quadcopter Drone, Pitching Machine, Frisbee Rings, Missile Launcher, or Kan Jam products.


  1. Crucial thinks I’ve learned about 12-year-old boys.
  2. Scientific Evidence proves 12-year-old boys are the worst.
  3. Hidden Truths About Tweens: 12-Year-Old Boys Rock.
  4. Child Development & Positive Parenting: Adolescence.

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