Children entering adolescence face a number of physical, emotional and mental changes. Although some of the changes may seem alarming or frightening to the child, the changes are part of the normal maturation process. During adolescence, children develop skills and abilities that they will use for the rest of their lives. Indeed, at the end of adolescence, the child will physically be an adult, fully able to reproduce and ideally able to make adult decisions.
With proper understanding and preparation, both parents and adolescents can recognize each change as it occurs. With proper guidance, parents can lead their adolescents through the teen years and toward a responsible adulthood.
First of all, it's important to know that the age a child begins to enter adolescence (a stage of development known as puberty) varies from child to child. The average age for puberty to start is between 12 and 18 years of age, with most girls starting their adolescent development earlier in the teen years and most boys starting their adolescent development later in the teen years. These figures are just a statistical average. It's not unheard of for girls to begin puberty at nine or ten years of age or for boys to start puberty as late as age 19 or 20.
What are some of the changes to expect during puberty? This article lists some of the physical changes for girls first and then for boys. Next, the article lists some of the mental and emotional changes that occur.
Some physical changes that occur during puberty include:
- Changes for girls. First, the breasts develop. Next, hair begins to grow in the pubic area and under the armpits. Acne may develop. The final physical change is the onset of menstruation (the girl's period).
- Changes for boys. First the penis and testicles get larger. Next, hair begins to grow in the pubic area and under the armpits. The boy's voice becomes deeper and his physique becomes more muscular. Acne may develop. The final physical change is the growth of facial hair.
Some mental and emotional changes that occur during puberty include:
- Emotional changes. An adolescent may feel self-conscious about his or her changing body. In addition, hormonal changes during puberty may cause teenagers to feel stronger emotions than usual. The same hormonal changes may lead to confusing sexual feelings.
- Mental changes. During adolescence, mental changes occur that enable a child to study increasingly difficult materials. They develop the capacity for abstract thought. In addition, they are better able to solve problems and understand consequences.
Adolescence is a time of many changes. Parents and children should work together to learn what to expect. With proper preparation, adolescence can be a time of great personal growth and development.