Tyra Tennyson Francis, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician and currently serves as the medical director of an outpatient clinic.
Marley Hall is a writer and fact-checker who is certified in clinical and translational research. Her work has been published in medical journals in the field of surgery, and she has received numerous awards for publication in education.
The teen years are a time of rapid physical, intellectual, and emotional development. Kids' bodies and brains grow and change as they transform from children into young adults. While it may sometimes seem that teens are being willfully moody or difficult, it's helpful to remember that nature is setting them on a path toward independence. They must grow apart from their parents a bit in order to grow up.
Even as they start to do more on their own, teens still need support and boundaries from you. Learn how to help them manage puberty, deal with school stress, navigate social media, and keep and maintain strong friendships so they can be happy, healthy teenagers.
Puberty happens during the early- and mid-teen years, with a growth spurt and the development of sex organs. Less obviously, important parts of teenagers' brains grow and change, too. Adolescence is a time of major intellectual development when kids become more capable of logic and abstract reasoning.
Early adolescence (ages 10 to 13) marks the start of puberty and is a time when kids still think concretely and may become more self-conscious. In middle adolescence (ages 14 and 17), puberty continues, and many teens become interested in dating and gaining independence. During late adolescence (ages 18 to 21), teens complete physical development and have better impulse control and a sense of their identities.
The teenage years are an essential bridge between childhood and adulthood. It's a period of dramatic physical, intellectual, and social development. During adolescence, a teen goes through the important process of individuation, in which they progressively detach from parents in order to develop their own identity and purpose in the world.
Puberty usually begins between ages 8 and 13 for girls and ages 10 to 16 for boys. If children enter puberty before age 8 (girls) or 9 (boys), they could be going through precocious puberty, which may be caused by certain syndromes. Speak with their healthcare provider if you notice signs of early puberty, such as pubic hair or the enlargement of breasts or sex organs.
Most girls finish puberty by around age 14 and most boys finish puberty by around age 16. Girls usually reach their final adult height by age 14 or 15. Boys stop growing taller around 16 but may still develop muscle mass.
Teenagers make many strides in their emotional intelligence (EQ). During adolescence, they become more aware of their feelings and the feelings of others. However, they are still developing stress management and impulse control skills. Further brain development in young adulthood will help build those skills.
Teens are notorious for being stubborn and rebellious. Even kids who were easygoing as young children may become more defiant in early or middle adolescence. Rather than acting out just to be difficult, many teens are operating on a biological impulse to create individual identities for themselves as they transition from childhood to adulthood.
In dual enrollment, teens take college-level courses while they're still in high school. This can be a way for very motivated or gifted students to have an extra academic challenge or to get a jump start on earning credits toward a college degree.
Puberty is the process during adolescence when children become physically mature. Kids will have a growth spurt, experience hormonal shifts that may cause mood swings, and fully develop their reproductive organs.
Growth spurts are periods of rapid height growth in kids. These spurts are a big part of puberty, tending to happen in girls between ages 10 to 14 and in boys between ages 12 to 16.
An STD refers to a sexually transmitted disease that is spread through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Half of all new STD infections in the U.S. occur in young people between ages 15 and 24, so it's important that you or a healthcare provider talk to your teen about sex and STD risk early in adolescence.
Masturbation, or sexually stimulating oneself, is a very common and normal way for young people to explore their own bodies. According to one survey of teens ages 14 to 17, 74% of boys and 48% of girls say they have masturbated.
Cleveland Clinic. Adolescent development.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Stages of adolescence.
Nemours Foundation. Understanding puberty.
American Academy of Family Physicians. For parents: What to expect when your child goes through puberty.
Nemours Foundation. Growth and your 13- to 18-year-old.
U.S. Hospital for Health and Human Services. Emotional development.
Nemours Foundation. A parent's guide to surviving the teen years.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases: Adolescents and young adults.
Robbins CL. Prevalence, frequency, and associations of masturbation with partnered sexual behaviors among us adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(12):1087. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.142
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.