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Normal Adolescent Development

17-19 years

Movement Toward Independence

  • Firmer identity
  • Ability to delay gratification
  • Ability to think ideas through
  • Ability to express ideas in words
  • More developed sense of humor
  • Stable interests
  • Greater emotional stability
  • Ability to make independent decisions
  • Ability to compromise
  • Pride in one's work
  • Self-reliance
  • Greater concern for others
Career Interests
  • More defined work habits
  • Higher level of concern for the future
  • Thoughts about one's role in life


  • Concerned with serious relationships
  • Clear sexual identity
  • Capacities for tender and sensual love

Ethics and Self-Direction

  • Capable of useful insight
  • Stress on personal dignity and self-esteem
  • Ability to set goals and follow through
  • Acceptance of social institutions and cultural traditions
  • Self-regulation of self esteem
Teenagers will naturally vary slightly from these descriptions, but the feelings and behaviors listed for each area are, in general, considered normal for each of the three stages. The mental and emotional problems that can interfere with these normal developmental stages are treatable.

If your teenager seems dramatically different from the descriptions presented here, it may be appropriate to consult with a mental health professional.

Brought to you by the American School Counselor Association



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