How Are Adolescents Developing?


Adolescence is the period of developmental transition between childhood and adulthood, involving multiple physical, intellectual, personality and social developmental changes. The onset of puberty signals the beginning of adolescence, and puberty now occurs earlier, on average, than in the past. The end of this developmental period is tied more so to social and emotional factors and can be somewhat ambiguous.

How Is Your Child Developing Physically?

  • The adolescent growth spurt — an early sign of maturation
  • Primary sex characteristics — changes in the organs directly related to reproduction
  • Secondary sex characteristics — physiological signs of sexual maturity that do not directly involve reproductive organs

In What Other Ways Are Adolescents Developing?

Adolescents are also developing intellectually. Adolescent thinking is on a higher level than that of children. Children are only able to think logically about the concrete, the here and now. Adolescents move beyond these limits. Adolescents can think in terms of what might be true, rather than just in terms of what they see is true. They are able to deal with abstractions, test hypotheses and see infinite possibilities. But, they are still often characterized by egocentric behaviors and attitudes.

Adolescents are also developing socially and emotionally. Perhaps the most important task of adolescence is the search for identity. This is often a lifelong voyage, launched in adolescence. And, with this search comes the struggle for independence.