The second decade of life, also known as adolescence, is one of the most transformational times in a person’s life. Between the ages of 10 and 19, a young person undergoes a tremendous amount of growth. Often times this stage of life is characterized as turbulent, however with the right information, resources and supports, this time in a young person’s life can be full of potential for positive development that can lead to a happy and successful adulthood.
There are five major developmental changes that take place between childhood and adulthood. Parents, teachers, coaches and other adults working with youth need to understand these areas of development and recognize issues that may appear within each area.
The Five Stages of Adolescent Development
- Physical Development: This stage is also known as puberty. There are visible sex-specific changes and a shift from childhood bodies to adult bodies that are capable of fertility.
- Cognitive Development: This stage is related to changes that occur in the brain that impact learning, critical thinking and decision making. Similar to infancy and early childhood, this is a significant time for growth and development in the brain. New brain cells are being formed and brain growth is pruned and connections are strengthened for better efficiency.
- Emotional Development: This stage is refers to one’s ability to assess, perceive and manage emotions. Physical changes in hormones and cognitive changes such as the ability to self-regulate impacts emotional development.
- Social Development: This stage is marked by the expansion of social networks and social roles for young people. During this stage, young people are creating new social connections and forming identities that will inform how they will manage a wide range of relationships.
- Moral Development: The stage is influence by changes in cognitive development that allow young people to think more broadly and abstractly about their world. Youth will begin to explore new ideas about the world and their connection to society. This is a time for setting values that will influence their decision making skills and ability to make healthy choices for their lives.
It can be overwhelming for parents and other adult caregivers helping teens adjust to the changes of adolescence. Fortunately, there are many resources available for parents and teens that explains ups and downs of growing. Below are a few insights to remember about developing teens to keep in mind:
- Changes are normal and necessary
- Every teen will experience changes differently
- Teens develop through learning and experience
- This is a time of opportunity and can be positive for teens and adults
- The community plays an important role in helping teens move into adulthood
For additional information about healthy adolescent development, check out these sites:
- Center for Adolescent Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health
- Society for Adolescent health and Medicine