Adolescent Development

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A teenager's development can be divided into three stages, early, middle, and late adolescence.



Early Adolescence


12-14 years
Movement Toward Independence

  • Struggle with sense of identity
  • Moodiness
  • Improved abilities to use speech to express oneself
  • More likely to express feelings by action than by words
  • Close friendships gain importance
  • Less attention shown to parents, with occasional rudeness
  • Realization that parents are not perfect; identification of their faults
  • Search for new people to love in addition to parents
  • Tendency to return to childish behavior
  • Peer group influences interests and clothing styles
  • Increasing career interests
  • Mostly interested in present and near future
  • Greater ability to work
Sexuality
  • Shyness, blushing, and modesty
  • More showing off
  • Greater interest in privacy
  • Worries about being normal
  • Ethics and Self-Direction
Rule and limit testing

  • Occasional experimentation with cigarettes, marijuana, and alcohol
  • Capacity for abstract thought

Middle Adolescence

15-16 years
Movement Toward Independence

  • Self-involvement, alternating between unrealistically high expectations and poor self-concept
  • Complaints that parents interfere with independence
  • Extremely concerned with appearance and with one's own body
  • Feelings of strangeness about one's self and body
  • Lowered opinion of parents, withdrawal from them
  • Effort to make new friends
  • Strong emphasis on the new peer group
  • Periods of sadness as the psychological loss of the parents takes place
  • Examination of inner experiences, which may include writing a diary
Career Interests

  • Intellectual interests gain importance
  • Some sexual and aggressive energies directed into creative and career interests
Sexuality

  • Concerns about sexual attractiveness
  • Frequently changing relationships
  • Tenderness and fears shown toward opposite sex
  • Feelings of love and passion
  • Ethics and Self-Description
Development of ideals and selection of role models

  • More consistent evidence of conscience
  • Greater capacity for setting goals
  • Interest in moral reasoning

Late Adolescence

17-19 years
Movement Toward Independence

  • Firmer identity
  • Ability to delay gratification
  • Ability to think ideas through
  • Ability to express ideas in words
  • More developed sense of humor
  • Stable interests
  • Greater emotional stability
  • Ability to make independent decisions
  • Ability to compromise
  • Pride in one's work
  • Self-reliance
  • Greater concern for others
Career Interests

  • More defined work habits
  • Higher level of concern for the future
  • Thoughts about one's role in life
Sexuality

  • Concerned with serious relationships
  • Clear sexual identity
  • Capacities for love
Ethics and Self-Direction

  • Capable of useful insight
  • Stress on personal dignity and self-esteem
  • Ability to set goals and follow through
  • Acceptance of social institutions and cultural traditions
  • Self-regulation of self esteem