Did you know that development for this age group actually starts around age 10? Initial changes in body, mood, thought, self-image, identity and perception are already happening! Kids in this age group undergo many changes socially, physically, cognitively, emotionally, and sexually. Some of these changes include:
- “More concern about body image, looks, and clothes.
- Focus on themselves; going back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence.
- Experience more moodiness.
- Show more interest in and influence by peer group.
- Express less affection toward parents; sometimes might seem rude or short-tempered.
- Feel stress from more challenging schoolwork.
- Develop eating problems.
- Feel a lot of sadness or depression, which can lead to poor grades at school, alcohol or drug use, unsafe sex, and other problems.”
“The teenage years bring many changes, not only physically, but also mentally and socially. During these years, adolescents increase their ability to think abstractly and eventually make plans and set long-term goals. Each child may progress at a different rate and may have a different view of the world. In general, the following are some of the abilities that may be evident in your adolescent:
- Develops the ability to think abstractly
- Is concerned with philosophy, politics, and social issues
- Thinks long-term
- Sets goals
- Compares one’s self to one’s peers”
Learn more about Adolescent Neurodevelopment on the World Health Organization website.
“Communicating your love for your child is the single most important thing you can do. Children decide how they feel about themselves in large part by how their parents react to them. For this reason, it’s important for parents to help their children feel good about themselves. It is also important to communicate your values and to set expectations and limits, such as insisting on honesty, self-control and respect for others, while still allowing teenagers to have their own space.”
These types of changes lead to a maturation and can be seen in early, normal or late development. Everyone’s body grows at it’s own pace. Physical changes can include: growing facial hair, change in voice, growth in height or weight, and changes in hormonal cycles. Body shape can also change during this time. Sometimes there is a period of awkwardness as the body and the mind try to catch up with each other, or their peers. Girls are seen to generally develop earlier than boys.
“During adolescence, young people go through many changes as they move into physical maturity. Early, prepubescent changes occur when the secondary sexual characteristics appear.
- Girls may begin to develop breast buds as early as 8 years old. Breasts develop fully between ages 12 and 18.
- Pubic hair, armpit and leg hair usually begin to grow at about age 9 or 10, and reach adult patterns at about 13 to 14 years.
- Menarche (the beginning of menstrual periods) typically occurs about 2 years after early breast and pubic hair appear. It may occur as early as age 9, or as late as age 16. The average age of menstruation in the United States is about 12 years.
- Girls growth spurt peaks around age 11.5 and slows around age 16.
- Boys may begin to notice that their testicles and scrotum grow as early as age 9.
- Soon, the penis begins to lengthen. By age 17 or 18, their genitals are usually at their adult size and shape.
- Pubic hair growth, as well as armpit, leg, chest, and facial hair, begins in boys at about age 12, and reaches adult patterns at about 17 to 18 years.
- Boys do not start puberty with a sudden incident, like the beginning of menstrual periods in girls. Having regular nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) marks the beginning of puberty in boys. Wet dreams typically start between ages 13 and 17. The average age is about 14 and half years.
- Boys’ voices change at the same time as the penis grows. Nocturnal emissions occur with the peak of the height spurt.
- Boys’ growth spurt peaks around age 13 and a half and slows around age 18.”
Sexual changes not only happen for kids in this age range physically but also mentally and socially. Feeling of sexual attraction develops, as well as awareness about the body changes in themselves and others.
“During the teen years, the hormonal and physical changes of puberty usually mean people start noticing an increase in sexual feelings. It’s common to wonder and sometimes worry about new sexual feelings.
It takes time for many people to understand who they are and who they’re becoming. Part of that involves better understanding of their own sexual feelings and who they are attracted to.”
MedlinePlus.gov has articles and resources for both parents and teens on their Teen/Adolescent Development resources page.
Read Understanding Your Teenagers Emotional Health on the FamilyDoctor.org.
KidsHealth.org has an article on Sexual Attraction and Orientation written for teens.
The University of Minnesota has an article on the Biological and Physical Changes that teens experience written for parents of teenagers.
The World Health Organization has an article on Adolescent Neurodevelopmental Changes.
Visit the University of Maryland Medical Center page on Adolescent Development.
Read The Teenage Brain Is Wired to Learn—So Make Sure Your Students Know It on Edutopia.org.