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Normal Growth and Development of Adolescents

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is the normal growth and development of adolescents?

Normal growth and development is how your adolescent grows physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. An adolescent is 10 to 20 years old. This time period is divided into 3 stages, including early (10 to 13 years of age), middle (14 to 17 years of age), and late (18 to 20 years of age).

What physical changes happen?

Your son's voice will get deeper. Body odor will develop. Acne may appear. Hair begins to grow on certain parts of your child's body, such as underarms or face. Boys grow about 4 inches per year during this time frame. Girls grow about 3½ inches per year. Boys gain about 20 pounds per year. Girls gain about 18 pounds per year.

What emotional and social changes happen?

  • Your child may become more independent. He or she may spend less time with family and more time with friends. Your child's responsibility will increase and he or she may learn to depend on himself or herself.
  • Your child may be influenced by his or her friends and peer pressure. He or she may try things like smoking, drinking alcohol, or become sexually active.
  • Your child's relationships with others will grow. He or she may learn to think of the needs of others before himself or herself.

What mental changes happen?

  • Your child will change how he views himself or herself. He or she will begin to develop his or her own ideals, values, and principles. He or she may find new beliefs and question old ones.
  • Your child will learn to think in new ways and understand complex ideas. He or she will learn through selective and divided attention. Your child will think logically, use sound judgment, and develop abstract thinking. Abstract thinking is the ability to understand and make sense out of symbols or images.
  • Your child will develop his or her self-image and plan for the future. Your child will decide who he or she wants to be and what he or she wants to do in life. Your child has learned the difference between goals, fantasy, and reality.

How can I help my adolescent?

  • Set clear rules and be consistent. Be a good role model for your child. Talk to your child about sex, drugs, and alcohol.
  • Get involved in your child's activities. Stay in contact with his or her teachers. Get to know his or her friends. Spend time with him or her and be there for him or her. Learn the early signs of drug use, depression, and eating problems, such as anorexia or bulimia. This can give you a chance to help your child before problems become serious.
  • Encourage good nutrition and at least 1 hour of exercise each day. Good nutrition includes fruit, vegetables, and protein, such as chicken, fish, and beans. Limit foods that are high in fat and sugar. Make sure he eats breakfast to give him or her energy for the day.
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Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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