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Normal Adolescent Development

Each teenager is an individual with a unique personality and special interests, likes, and dislikes. In general, however, there is a series of developmental tasks that everyone faces during the adolescent years.

A teenager's development can be divided into three stages -- early, middle, and late adolescence. The normal feelings and behaviors of adolescents for each stage are described below.

12-14 years

Movement Toward Independence

  • Struggle with sense of identity
  • Moodiness
  • Improved abilities to use speech to express oneself
  • More likely to express feelings by action than by words
  • Close friendships gain importance
  • Less attention shown to parents, with occasional rudeness
  • Realization that parents are not perfect; identification of their faults
  • Search for new people to love in addition to parents
  • Tendency to return to childish behavior
  • Peer group influences interests and clothing styles
  • Increasing career interests
  • Mostly interested in present and near future
  • Greater ability to work
  • Girls ahead of boys
  • Shyness, blushing, and modesty
  • More showing off
  • Greater interest in privacy
  • Experimentation with body (masturbation)
  • Worries about being normal
Ethics and Self-Direction
  • Rule and limit testing
  • Occasional experimentation with cigarettes, marijuana, and alcohol
  • Capacity for abstract thought



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