Adolescent Development – What’s normal

Adolescence is a time of rapid change.  As well as the more obvious physical changes, there are many other changes taking place.  All young people are unique and therefore the degree, rate and pace of change varies with the individual.  As a guide, these changes are normal:

Physical development is often the most obvious change as a child grows into an adult and their body starts to develop.

Psychological development:  Young people are developing their own sense of self and forming their own identity and independence.  This often results in them forming new boundaries and challenging decisions and actions they may have previously accepted as they create their own identity and form their own morals and values.

Cognitive development:  As the brain grows, adolescents are moving to more complex abstract thinking.  They develop skills like planning, organising, prioritizing, problem solving and weighing up consequences.  As these skills develop, they influence the decision making process of young people. The human brain is not fully developed until around 25 years of age, therefore these changes take some time to develop.

Emotional development:  With all these changes in thinking, there are also changes in the emotions a young person experiences. While they are busy developing their own self identity, they may become moody, irritable and frustrated.  However, as their skills develop they will learn to manage their swinging emotions, with the right support.  They will also begin to develop a greater understanding of the experiences of others as they become less self centered.

Social development:  Children generally see their family as the centre of their lives, however young people begin to seek independence from their parents and begin to rely more on the support and guidance from their friends, whilst continuing to value the role of their family.  Young people begin to seek out intimate relationships as they develop their sexuality.