14-Year-Old Child Development Milestones

Your child’s growth and development at age 14

Fourteen can be a pivotal age for both young people and their parents or caregivers. Not only are many 14-year-olds just beginning high school, they also are heading down the path toward becoming a healthy, responsible adult. This can be both exciting and challenging—for both of you.

At this age, many 14-year-olds are developing their unique identity, gaining independence, and likely exploring (or thinking about) romantic relationships. That can be a lot to take in as a parent. But, by providing plenty of supportive guidance and helping them gain the skills they need for a successful future, you both can weather this transition seamlessly.

While it is true that parenting a teen can seem challenging at times, it also can be exciting and fun, especially when you know what to expect. Here we walk you through what to anticipate developmentally from a 14-year-old.

Whether you are concerned about their cognitive abilities or are wondering about their physical development, we break down what you can expect to see at this age. Plus, we provide tips on how to navigate parenting your teen by providing tips on helping them learn and grow as well as pointers on how to keep them safe.

14 year old child development milestones
Illustration by Emily Roberts, Verywell

Cognitive Milestones

By the time your child reaches 14, they are likely thinking more deeply and making their preferences known. They might have favorite movies, TV shows, music, sports teams, and books. Depending on how much they read, they might even have an extensive vocabulary.

Most 14-year-olds also find justice and equality to be important issues and many are actively volunteering or show an interest in advocacy. They are ready for long-term experiences and their interests are becoming more focused.

Jonathan Jassey, DO, FAAP

There is more pressure on them to succeed now because the college landscape is such a competitive space. They start to realize that starting high school is the next step toward their future.

— Jonathan Jassey, DO, FAAP

You also may notice that your teen wants to explore the world beyond their own community, and that they are interested in learning what exists beyond their school, hometown, or country. They also may be focusing more on on the future and what they want to do when they graduate.

"At 14, most teens have the ability for complex thought and can express their thoughts and opinions verbally," says Florencia Segura, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Einstein Pediatrics in the Washington D.C. metro area. "They might have strong opinions or beliefs that are sometimes different than their parent or caregiver's beliefs.

Yet, despite this ability to communicate verbally, your 14-year-old may seem less communicative at times. While this can feel disconcerting, rest assured this can be part of normal development as your teen begins solving problems and dealing with emotions on their own.

Your teen also may prefer to stay in touch via electronic communication with friends and family. Texting and social media are often very important at this age, Dr. Segura says.

In fact, teens—especially young girls—may prefer to text their parents rather than talk with them directly, she says. Additionally, they may spend time with their friends working on goal-oriented projects or participating in school activities.

"They also might start realizing that grades and academic performance will determine their future," says Jonathan Jassey, DO, FAAP, a pediatrician and father of three in Bellmore, New York. "There is more pressure on them to succeed now because the college landscape is such a competitive space. They start to realize that starting high school is the next step toward their future."

Additional Cognitive Milestones

  • Develops an ability to focus on the future
  • May challenge the assumptions and solutions presented by adults
  • Starts to set personal goals


Physical Milestones

Most 14-year-olds have hit puberty by age 14, but if your child is still a little behind try not to worry. Growth and development is often unique for each child. What's more, your child's healthcare provider tracks their growth and development and can let you know if there is something that needs to be investigated. But if you are concerned, do not be afraid to ask.

Generally speaking at this age, both boys and girls tend to have pubic and underarm hair by this point, says Dr. Jassey. What's more, most females have started their menstrual periods and have experienced breast development while most boys have experienced enlargement of the testicles and penis. Some of them also may experience nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) for the first time.

Their changing bodies can be a source of pride or a cause for concern. Some teens may be proud of their adult-like bodies while others may be embarrassed or confused by the changes they are experiencing.

Boys who hit puberty later may be more likely to feel bad about themselves. They may experience body image issues as they are likely to compare themselves to their peers. Girls may experience body image issues as well, whether they begin puberty early or late. It’s common for them to be concerned about their weight and appearance.

Additional Physical Milestones

  • Experiences great concern if they develop physically slower than peers
  • Exhibits a wide range of sexual maturity between genders and within gender groups
  • May grow several inches in several months followed by a period of very slow growth

Social and Emotional Milestones

Fourteen-year-old teens often start to grow convinced they know everything. So don't be surprised if your teen wants to argue with you about everything or if they insist you have no idea what you're talking about.

Most teens this age also experience great fluctuations in their self-esteem. They may feel good about themselves one day and feel extremely inadequate the next. Although mood swings can still be common at age 14, they are usually less intense than in the past. Many 14-year-olds become more easy-going as they mature, Dr. Jassey says.

They have usually developed the skills they need to deal with uncomfortable emotions, like embarrassment and anger, in healthy ways. And, they may rely on their own strategies, like journaling or listening to music, or they may turn to their friends for support.

As much as you may wish it were not true, it is normal for 14-year-olds to be embarrassed by their parents. They may not want to be seen being dropped off by you at a dance or sporting event. Or, they may insist that you embarrass them when they have their friends over.

Florencia Segura, MD, FAAP

Teens often have mixed feelings about their parents. They don't necessarily want to completely break away from them, but relying on friends or confiding in them is a big part of their development."

— Florencia Segura, MD, FAAP

Also, don't be surprised if your 14-year-old stops confiding in you. Instead, they are more likely to turn to their friends and seek advice from their peers. For many families, increased independence means a major shift in the parent-child relationship.

"At this age, teens often have mixed feelings about their parents," Dr. Segura says. "They don't necessarily want to completely break away from their parents, but relying on friends or confiding in them is a big part of their development."

Fourteen-year-olds want to be accepted by their high school peers. Individuality is often not as important as being part of the group. So, your teen may get anxious if they don't feel like they fit in. It could take a toll on their self-confidence and they may be at risk of seeking support from unhealthy people if they don't find a healthy place to belong.

Many 14-year-olds develop an interest in forming romantic relationships. They may have crushes or they may consider themselves in a relationship.

"It is productive for parents to have conversations with their kids about healthy relationships, sex, and dating so they are not just getting their information from social media," Dr. Jassey says.

Additional Social and Emotional Milestones

  • May appear happy and easy going as well as struggle with mood swings
  • Is embarrassed by parents
  • Recognizes own strengths and weaknesses
  • Wants to be liked
  • Has a large social circle including friends of both sexes
  • Displays an interest in romantic relationships

Other Milestones

Many 14-year-olds show a strong interest in earning money but they’re usually not able to obtain formal employment. You might assist your teen in finding odd jobs that help them earn some spending money, such as mowing lawns or babysitting. They also are ready to take on more responsibility and becoming more independent.

"Overall, your 14-year-old is going to want a little more independence than they did at 13," says Dr. Jassey. "Keeping the lines of communication open is really important, so that you know what is going on in their world. Even if they are not willing to open up at certain times, it's important that they know they can come to you to discuss things if they want."

By age 14, teens also should be able to perform all of the basic chores you do around the house. You might consider paying your teen to do the jobs you might pay someone else to do, like mow the lawn or wash the car. Paying your teen can be a good way to start teaching your teen valuable life lessons about money.

How to Help Your 14-Year-Old Learn and Grown

Your 14-year-old may be hungry almost all the time. Stock the house with healthy snacks and serve nutritious meals. Reduce body image issues by focusing on health, rather than weight and appearance.

It's likely your 14-year-old will insist your rules are too strict or that you expect too much from them. Make it clear that they have some control over their privileges. Assign chores and expect them to do their school work. Make their privileges contingent on getting things done.

Show an interest in your teen’s activities. Ask questions that go beyond “yes” or “no” to open the door to more in-depth conversations. Rather than ask, “How was your day?” ask “What was the best part of your day?” and inquire about your teen’s opinions and interests.

Respect your teen’s opinions even when you don’t agree with them. Show interest in learning more about what has shaped their ideas and why they have certain beliefs. Teens often just want to know that someone is listening to them.

How to Keep Your 14-Year-Old Safe

Because your 14-year-old has likely entered high school, they may be faced with an entire host of new situations and opportunities, so the need for regular communication becomes increasingly important especially when it comes to keeping them safe. From how to navigate peer pressure at parties, safe dating, and healthy relationships to riding with friends and staying safe online, there is a lot to talk about.

Dr. Jassey recommends having multiple conversations with your teen rather than looking to have one big talk about topics like sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying, dating, and vaping. You should be talking to kids about these things on an ongoing basis not only explaining the consequences of poor decision-making but also reminding them of what your expectations are.

"Teen are very influenced by their peer group," Dr. Segura adds. "Sometimes it is best to provide them with anticipatory guidance rather than waiting until an issue crops up to address it."

You also should get to know their friend group, show interest in their school life as well as listen to and respect their teenage thoughts, she says. Also be sure to address your expectations about privacy and sharing on social media.

Make sure they know how to stay safe online as well as what is appropriate and inappropriate to post. You also can help them maintain a good digital footprint by going through their social media accounts with them and helping them clean things up from time to time.

"At this age, teens are on their phones a lot," Dr. Segura says. "Be on top of social media and aware of what they are doing online. There is a risk of sharing too much information or posting something that could backfire."

When your teen does make a poor decision—and almost every does at some point—make sure they know you will help guide them through it. While there may be consequences for their actions, they also need to know that you love them unconditionally.

"It is important to let you teen know that you are always there for support and to listen," Dr. Segura says.

When to Be Concerned

All teens develop at slightly different rates. So while some 14-year-olds will look and act more like adults, others may still be quite child-like. Usually, there’s no cause for concern as kids will all catch up to one another in the near future.

If you are concerned about your teen’s immaturity, it’s important to talk to your child’s healthcare provider.  They can rule out any physical or mental health issues and may refer your child to a specialist if necessary.

Eating disorders can develop during the teen years as well, Dr. Segura says. Keep an eye on your teen’s eating habits. Skipping meals, purging, and crash diets are red flags that could signal your teen needs to see a mental health professional.

A Word From Verywell

As your teen turns 14, make sure they have the skills they need to become an adult. Get purposeful about teaching them life skills and give them opportunities to practice those skills on their own. Make sure they also are learning how to care for themselves like helping with laundry and cooking from time to time.

Keep in mind that raising a 14-year-old can be a little challenging at times, especially when they make a poor decision. In fact, you might feel like you have taken one step forward and two steps back in terms of your teen’s growth and maturity. But, overall, your teen should be showing they can handle greater responsibility and independence as they approach age 15.

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14 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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