Teenage Developmental Milestones: Guide to a Child’s Adolescence Years


Teenage Development Process - Featured Image

Teenagers are kids who are 13 to 19 years old. As kids grow up, they’re not exactly the bundles of sunshine and joy that they used to be. They’re most likely going to be dramatic, moody and very opinionated when they hit their peak teens.

But don’t worry, this is completely normal. And you should give your kids a break because they don’t know what they’re doing either. They’re just trying to deal with all of the complex emotional and physical changes they’re experiencing the best way they can.

If you’re worried about how to handle your teenager, the first step is to understand how they will develop. So, keep reading to find out what your child will be going through as they transition into teenhood. That way, you can help your teen deal with all the massive changes coming their way. 


Physical Developments of a Teenager

Teenage Developmental Milestones - Physical Development

During the teenage years, physical changes are prominent and rapid. Girls might grow a further 8.3 cm in height while boys might grow as much as  9.5 cm as each year passes.

Girls

Teenage girls will hit puberty earlier than boys. These changes occur differently for each individual, but there is a general process you can expect. Girls will normally go through puberty when they are between 8 and 13 years old.

  • Changes to Expect

The first change your daughter will experience is the growth of her breasts. Not long after, she will notice hair growth in the pubic region. Over time the pubic hair will become darker, courser and more spread out. At around 12 years of age, she will have hair under her arms as well.

Your daughter may have her first period any time between 10 and16.5 years old. During this time bleeding may be irregular, so that’s not something to worry about. Your daughter’s body shape will also change a lot, with her hips becoming wider and her waist becoming narrower. She will also grow taller and heavier.

During the initial teen years, her height increase will be rapid. She will most likely grow the most in the two years after she first hits puberty. After the onset of menstruation, girls may grow up to one or two inches more.

Boys

Puberty changes happen very gradually in boys and is not a one-time affair. These physical developments may occur over the course of 10 to 15 years. Boys experience a growth spurt much later than girls. They will grow taller very quickly between the ages of 12 to 15 years.

  • Changes to Expect

The first change that will occur in your son is that his testicles and scrotum will get larger. Around a year later, his penis will grow in size and length.

At around 13 to 14 years old, your son will probably notice hair growth in the pubic region. By the age of 15, he will have hair growth under his arms and on his face. It’s also normal for your son to have acne breakouts and, of course, a massive change in his voice.

This period of change can cause your son to have a deeper or cracking voice that may be awkward as it develops. Your son may form an Adam’s apple in his teen years, as his larynx cartilage increases in size. 

Related Read: 11-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones


 Cognitive Development of a Teenager

Teenage Developmental Milestones - Cognitive Development

Teens will wonder about the future and they may even start making long-term plans. They will be making life decisions about what they want to study and do in the future, or they may be getting their first jobs. At this age, they will be organized and know what they have to do to attain their goals. They’ll understand the importance of routine and they will be aware of their limits.  

However, in the initial stages of teenagehood, they might live in a bit of a fantasy world. They may set impractical goals that will be realistic in their eyes. They will also likely compare their lives to their peers and measure success the same way.

Learning Abilities

Teenagers will be able to understand and involve themselves in abstract discussions about things like justice, politics, equality, morals, philosophy, and social issues. They will be better at analyzing situations and approaching problems from a logical point of view. They will also learn to handle things in a systematic and logical way.

Teenagers might start reading more advanced books and develop an interest in complex works of literature. They will be able to solve more complicated math sums using formulae on their own. This is usually the time when your child will decide on a particular study area and career.

Communication

During the teen years, your child will be able to speak flawlessly and recognize insinuations and contexts. Be prepared for a lot of snarky and sarcastic comments, with a whole lot of inside jokes you might not get. They will be able to grasp idioms and metaphors as well. Your child will be a lot more vocal about their thoughts and opinions, and this may result in a lot of family debates.

They might not communicate freely with you and they may have a tendency to keep secrets. By this time, any speech impediments should already have been identified. But if your teen is stuttering you should get them checked by a speech pathologist. 

Important Read: 10-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones 


Emotional Development of a Teenager

Teenage Developmental Milestones - Emotional Development

The teenage years are notorious for being a whirlwind of intense emotions and unpredictable mood swings. However, over time, they will develop a better understanding of different perspectives and differences in opinions.

Teenagers are just learning to get a grip on their emotions. They’re not experts at reading body language or facial expressions yet, so be prepared for a couple of misunderstandings. However, they will generally be more sensitive and caring towards other people.

Keep in mind that just because your child is now speaking like an adult, it does not mean they have matured. Their decision making will still be questionable at times as they’ll be testing the waters and pushing the boundaries and limits you’ve set.

Potential Problems

During this time, kids are vulnerable to developing anxiety problems, depression as well as anger issues. They will also have a lot of insecurities and low self-esteem. Because of all their bodily and emotional changes, they might develop body-image issues as well. This is why, as parents, you should be encouraging them to be themselves and introduce positive, normal-looking role models.

Teenagers can sometimes have a self-centered view on life and believe that nobody understands them. It’s important that you talk to your child openly and be sensitive to their problems, no matter how trivial they may seem to you. 

Important Read: 12-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones


Social Development of a Teenager

Teenage Developmental Milestones - Social Development

During the teen years, your child will be figuring out their personality and simultaneously trying to fit in with their social circle. They will be experimenting with new clothes, music, interests and lifestyle choices.

Although they’re still young, teens will want to be treated as adults and start taking up more responsibilities. Your child will also probably be seeking new experiences, which might mean they’ll be participating in riskier activities and behavior.

Social Life

Your teenager will now have an active social life and prefer to hang out with their friends more than their family. But be aware that they’re at a very vulnerable age where they can be easily influenced by others. Developing bad habits like smoking, drinking, partying too much and not taking school seriously is common. This is why you have to be involved in your teen’s life and help them make positive choices.

This is a time when your teen will develop intimate relationships and friendships too. They might be exploring their sexuality, so it is important to explain the concept of safe sex to them. 

Related Read: 6-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones


Other Developments

Teenage Developmental Milestones - Other Developments

Teenagers will develop physically, cognitively, emotionally and socially. Their basic everyday habits like food and sleeping will change a great deal. They might not be as interested in playing with toys or watching cartoons as they once used to. They’ll develop completely new hobbies that might be temporary and fleeting.

It’s also very likely that they will experience a change in music taste and idolize different celebrities instead of the Disney characters they used to love.

Food and Weight Watching

A lot of teenagers are very careful about calories and how much they are eating. It is important that you make sure your teen gets a healthy, balanced diet, with three generous meals a day. Teens might gravitate towards ‘feel good’ junk food and sweets due to their emotions. You should explain the importance of healthy eating and instill those values from a young age.

Also, make sure that your child isn’t glued to their phones or the TV all day. Get them enrolled in extracurricular activities and do a weekly exercise like hiking and swimming.

Sleeping Habits

In their teenage years, kids will less likely conform to strict bedtimes. They’ll probably be going to sleep at much later hours. However, they still need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night to function properly. Teens tend to wake up very late on the weekends and have irregular sleep cycles. Sleep disorders like insomnia, restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea are common as well. 

Related Read: 7-Year-Old Child Developmental Milestones


Final Thoughts

Raising a teenager is no easy feat, but being a teenager is much more difficult. You’ve got to understand that they’re discovering their identities and learning the ways of life. They might look grown up and speak as though they know everything, but the truth is, they’re still big kids at heart.

But if you’re not on the same page as your teens, they’ll never be able to communicate with you freely. So now that you’ve read about all the things teens go through, go and give your teenager a hug, and give them the support they need!

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