Adolescent Development

11 year olds

Begins Search for New Self

Biological changes speed up - increased energy output and appetite; always in motion, restless, talkative. Psychological changes are abrupt; suddenly change from easy-going ten-year-old to peaks of emotional intensity; mood swings from day to day; but often unaware of the effects of these moods on others. Crude beginning of new self-identity; challenges parents, argumentative, sometimes obnoxious, and sometimes angry and defensive at home. Better behavior at school, club meetings and with peers than at home. Inquisitive and can work hard at a project o f his/her own choosing. Interpersonal social skills at beginning stages - -boys more socially awkward than girls; many ups and down in friendships; boys and girls secretly interested in each other but uncomfortable in showing it; often boys and girls at this age don’t get along well with each other; much teasing. Require firm, but understanding guidance from adults.


12 year olds

Begins To Find New Self

Twelve is a more integrated year than 11; more outgoing, reasonable and tolerant with a dash of humor, but still with some challenging and questioning. Extreme enthusiasm again for tasks of own choosing; likes debates and discussions, and sports. Sometimes show fatigue and moodiness; but quickly recover; appetite is still enormous. More interested in boy-girl relationships and activities; girls still more sophisticated in these relationships than boys. Physically, girls mature rapidly; both boys and girls show decided interest in their sexuality.


13 year olds

Inner Directed

Preoccupied with self, worries about everything; appearance, school, etc. Stares in the mirror to see how he/she really looks. Moody, sulks and pouts, sensitive, withdraws from family. Not willing to talk, secretive, feelings easily hurt. Withdraw inward to cope with all the new changes in himself to sort himself out and develop a new identify.


14 year olds

More Self-Accepting

More outgoing and positive, gets along better with family members, more interest in opposite sex and social gatherings and peer groups become more important. Find security in peer group, pressure to conform just as we adult conform to our peer groups. Girls are sexually young women, boys still awkward physically. Can grasp abstract ideas. Becoming thinkers, introspective, question values and lifestyles.


15 year olds

Self Identity

Detached from family; prefers peers, new drive for independence and freedom. New search for self-identity. Secretive, wants privacy, uncommunicative, resists rules and restriction, slams doors, etc. Argues. More serious and complex. Perspective of personality traits of self and parents. May be depressed and confused. Often a problem year in school, especially boys, may benefit in half day work experience program. Interested in sex.


16 and 17 year olds


More self assured, doesn’t have to "prove" his independence. Accepts self as is; renews friendly ties with family. More time spent socializing with friends, more emotionally and sexually involved. Job and making money becomes important. Decisions about school, vocational training, jobs, careers.