Adolescence is a tough time for many teens, and it isn’t always so fun for parents either. Much like the so-called “terrible twos,” the problems and conflicts the teenage years have become famous for can overshadow the monumental growth and development that is taking place in children this age.
Adolescence has been likened to a second birth; a time when youth shed the persona of childhood and begin to establish their own unique adult identity. This process can be turbulent, but it can also be as magical and special as any other time in a child’s life…so long as adults approach these changes with the proper perspective in mind.
The following information will shed further light on adolescent and teen development. Hopefully it will help you see beyond the hassles these changes might bring, to marvel at the miracles of your teen’s development as they grow into a young adult.
Fun Facts About Teen Development:
1. During puberty, a boy’s testosterone spikes to levels up to 18-times higher than what it was during childhood. While girls’ hormonal levels are a little more stable, they also see significant increases in both estrogen and testosterone.
2. A child’s brain goes through a bit of restructuring during adolescence. Little used neurons and connections are pruned away, and networks are re-wired to streamline connections and make their mind more efficient.
3. While many adults treat teens as incapable and incompetent, historically speaking, adolescents have also been drivers of innovation and a source of inspiration. In primate groups, adolescents are often the source of tool use or new customs that are later adopted by the group. It’s believed caveman teens started the tradition of cave art, and have been the source of many basic innovations, such as utensils or even the wheel. Even today, some of the most inspirational leaders are young people, like Greta Thunberg or Malala Yousafzai. So listen to your teens. They may be young and somewhat naive, but that doesn’t mean their opinions are invalid or that they have nothing to offer.
4. The type of adolescent turmoil we’re so accustomed to in the western world is completely absent in more than 100 cultures around the world. (Epstein, 2007) Many of the problems we associate with teens are self-created; a product of our hindering rather than facilitating youth development.
5. Biologically speaking, the years of adolescence “are the physically healthiest period in life, when strength, speed, reaction time, reasoning abilities and immune function all improve or peak” notes Lydia Denworth (2021, p. 59).
Developmental Tasks & Milestones During Adolescence
Teens face a number of developmental challenges as they grow into young adults:
- Entering and completing puberty.
- Coming to grips with one’s sexuality and sexual identity, whatever that might be.
- Replacing parent approval with peer approval, and learning to rely more on peers for emotional support.
- Learning how to function in romantic relationships.
- Learning how to become more independent and assertive without acting like a jack-ass in the process.
- Completing high school (something many teens fail to do)
- Working or beginning to take on adult responsibilities.
- Establishing future goals and a sense of purpose in life.