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Adolescent Development: Stages of adolescent development

Adolescent is a period of growth among children of 12 to 18 years. Girls begin developing breast buds as early as eight years, pubic hair grows at the hair, armpit, and leg. Menstrual periods grow. The growth speeds up until sixteen years and slows at twelve years. Boy’s testicles and scrotum grow from ages nine while their penis enlarge and their genitals to ages nineteen. Pubic hair grows at the chest, face, and armpit. Wet dreams start at ages thirteen and continue to age seventeen. The voices deepen as the penis grow in size (American academy of child and adolescent’s facts for families, 2008).

Early adolescence

Early adolescence begins with growth of hair in private areas, increased perspiration, and production of oil in the skin and hair. Girls of approximately eleven to thirteen years of age develop hips and breast and begin experiencing menstruation. Boys of eleven to thirteen years’ experience growth of their testicles and penis. They have wet dreams and deepen their voices. They grow tremendous and gain weight. They develop greater interest in sex. Cognitive development during early adolescence begins with increased capacity for abstract thought, begin concentrating with the present, and have limited thoughts for the future. The intellectual interest expand and gain importance. Moral thinking becomes deeper (American academy of child and adolescent’s facts for families, 2008).

Social emotional development

Early stages of adolescence begins with struggle to get identity, and feeling awkward about their body and self-images. They realize the imperfect nature of their parents and increase their conflicts with them. They are greatly influenced by their peers and desire for independence. They get moody and often return to their childish behavior especially when under stress. The limit testing, rules, and are greatly interested in privacy (American academy of child and adolescent’s facts for families, 2008).

Middle adolescence

Middle adolescence begins at fourteen to eighteen ages, completing puberty stage where physical growth for girls slows and continues among boys. The cognitive development increases capacity for growth and abstract thought. The ability to set goals increases with interest in moral reasoning. They begin reasoning in the meaning of life. The social emotional development begins with intense self-involvement, poor self-concept, and high expectations. There is continued adjustment to changing body and increased worries on their normality. Middle adolescent tend to distance from parents as they aim to be independent. They are interested in making friends and rely greatly on them (American academy of child and adolescent’s facts for families, 2008). They have greater feelings of love and passion.

Late adolescence

Late adolescence begins from 19 -21 years where young women develop fully. They begin to gain weight, increase in muscle mass and body hair. Their cognition matures with the ability to think ideas, delay gratification, examining their inner experiences, and having increased concern for the future. The moral reasoning increases interest. The social emotional development has firmer sense of identity. They have increased emotional stability, and concern for others. The self-reliance is increased and independence. Their peer relationships stay important and serious. Cultural and social traditions regain their importance (American academy of child and adolescent’s facts for families, 2008).

Sexual development

  Adolescent’s skeletal growth begins at ages 10 to 12 among girls and 12 to 14 among boys. It completes at ages 17 to 19 years. Sexual maturation involves achieve of fertility, physical changes. Girls mature sexually at ages 10 where menstruation begins. Among boys testes enlarge with the first ejaculation occurs at ages 11 and 12. Secondary characteristics include body hair among boys, and changes in voice (American psychological Association, 2002).

Physical appearance and body image

Adolescents get concerned with changes in their physical appearances such as weight gain, facial features, acne, and enlargement of breasts. They spend time listening to others. Overweight adolescents suffer from discrimination from their peers. Most do not participate in physical education and take in unbalanced diets (American psychological Association, 2002). The disordered eating leads to others dieting to maintain a thin body. Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and nervosa are common.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development among adolescents changes the way they think, understand, and reason. They analyze various situations logically from their causes and effects in order to entertain hypothetical situations. They use symbols such as imaginations and metaphors. Their thinking ability is high enough to enable them evaluate various alternatives, set personal goals and evaluate them. They develop the ability to solve problems and plan for their future.


Adolescents make poor decisions, which lead them in risky behaviors such as abuse of alcohol and engaging in violent activities. Adolescent’s moral development grows with prosocial behaviors such as volunteerism, caring for others, helping, and honesty. Adolescents having learning disabilities report emotional distress than normal adolescents (American psychological Association, 2002).

Learning disabilities

Adolescents with learning disabilities experience problems with hearing, seeing and interpreting information. Moreover they experience problems with writing, spoken language and reading.

Low self-esteem

Problems with self-esteem affect most adolescents whose body organs have grown larger than their peers have. Low-esteemed adolescents feel depressed, lack energy, dislike their appearance, and reject compliments. They feel insecure and inadequate. Their expectations become unrealistic. Some become exceedingly shy and are unable to express their views. Some conform to other people’s wishes and their point of view (American psychological Association, 2002).

Emotional intelligence

Adolescents begin mastering emotional skills and ways of managing stress. Emotional intelligence involves self-awareness.

Pressures to engage in high-risk behavior

Most adolescents face great pressure to engage in risky behavior such as sexual relationships, intentional injuries, unintended pregnancies, infections from sexually transmitted diseases. Some abuse drugs (American psychological Association, 2002).


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