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ADOLESCENCE
● Adolescence ranges from 12 to 18 years of age 
 
Physical Development 
Welcome to the teen years! This is time time in physical development where growth begins to pick 
up. In adolescence, there is a huge change called puberty. With this change, there is a higher 
growth spurt and it varies within males beginning at age 12 and females at the age of 10 (Mossler, 
2014). The growth seems pretty significant, due to the lack of growth in previous years. The height 
of adolescents increases about five inches in a year (Mossler, 2014). What is also important to 
understand is some differences in male and female puberty. In females, there is an increase in the 
hormone estrogen which will help to develop breast tissue, widen the hips, and fat will become more 
prominent around the hips (Mossler, 2014). This can be the body preparing for things such as 
pregnancy later in life so that the body does not react poorly to being pregnant. In men, the 
hormone testosterone increases which will cause the men to develop coarse skin, increased size in 
adams apple, and voice change (Mossler, 2014).  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Retrieved from ​https://pxhere.com/en/photo/180040​ ​Language 
Development 
Much of the development that 
occurs in language is based upon 
the learning that occurred in 
middle childhood. Adolescents 
learn how to assess and express 
their feeling and express their 
emotions through language 
(Mossler, 2014). Another thing 
that we see in adolescence, is that 
they are learning concepts of 
rhythm in speech. Being able to 
understand differences in tone 
and rhythm, helps them to express 
sarcasm and irony (Berk, 2013). 
Are we not lucky as parents to 
finally get to deal with teenage 
sarcasm?  
 
 
Cognitive Development 
Much of the development that occurs in this domain in adolescence, will follow them into adulthood. 
In these years the child falls into the formal operations of cognitive development according to 
theorist Jean Piaget. He believed that children in adolescence are using logical thought processes 
(Berk, 2013). This means that they are able to communicate effectively and use problem solving skill 
to find solutions to problems they face. This can be seen as hypothetico-deductive reasoning, which 
is when a child creates a hypothesis for a problem, and produce logical solutions for it (Berk, 2013). 
While the development is essential to the adolescents, they can have thoughts of confusion and 
self-consciousness because if it. This can cause what is called ​cognitive distortion​. This can happen 
in two different ways. The first is the concept of ​imaginary audience​. When a child feels that they 
are the main attraction or main point attention, imaginary audience is what is happening (Berk, 
2013). The other concept that can occur is the ​personal fable. ​This is where issues of self-esteem 
can become an issue. Personal fable is assumed that others are observing and talking about said 
child (Berk, 2013). With the huge change in hormonal structure, children in this age group tend to 
have issues with these concepts and it cause them to feel negatively about themselves.  
 
Social/Emotional Development 
During adolescence, social and emotional aspects of development are more structured. Around this 
time, individual differences in self-esteem become more apparent and the way these kids value 
certains aspects of life is increasing with their age (Berk, 2013). These kids are really starting to 
understand what matters to them and that emotionality give them the ability to set goals and 
ensure they do their best to make themselves feel like an effective piece of society. We also see 
that prosocial behavior becomes very important for this age of development. Positive social 
behaviors that occur between peers, teacher, and parents provides examples to these kids of how 
to act around others (​Bojczyk, Shriner, & Shriner, 2012). The influences of other around them can 
play a major role in their overall social development, so it is important for us as adults to keep 
positive actions and reactions consistent. 
 
Moral Reasoning/Self-Regulation 
As we enter into this stage, moral reasoning and self-regulation increase to a point where these 
kids can effectively keep back aggression and use their logic to understand effective decision 
making. On aspect of aggression that does seem to increase during this development is more 
relational development. These kids tend to create cliques and within those cliques, we see that 
children will talk about each other in a negative way and that is usage if an indirect relational 
aggression (Berk, 2013). Unfortunately this seems to be something that occurs in many children in 
adolescence but overtime, these children will learn for experience and realize that this is not the 
best way to handle situations. Children are always learning through their family and caregivers that 
are around them consistently, but in adolescence this becomes more apparent. As they are 
beginning to gain their own self-concept and understanding of what they want to be in the world. 
They take what they have seen from family and fellow peers and create their own social schemas. 
 
Social and cultural Factors 
As mentioned, socially speaking these children are learning from those around them. If parents are 
acting a certain way to each other, like fighting for example. It sets a precedent for those 
adolescent children and makes that behavior seem appropriate towards others. This can also be 
associated with culture. At this point in time, cultural background and rituals have been established 
and these have helped the children to create their self-concept.  

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Signs to look for  
In adolescence, atypical signs differ than 
those in the younger years of life. As 
previously mentioned, around this age group 
puberty begins for both genders. Something 
that may be atypical is a lack of puberty. This 
could mean there is a deficiency within the 
body that may need to be addressed. You may 
be concerned that a child may not be as social   
as you would expect, but children in this 
timeframe are going through a lot of changes, 
so those changes will manifest through their 
actions. If there are tendencies or signs of 
depression in your child, such as severe 
isolation, lack of communication, or issues occurring in school, it is important to contact the 
appropriate professional to deal with these issues as soon as possible. Other signs that can be 
problematic can be antisocial behavior. If there is indication of deviance later in life, like in this 
stage of development, this could be an issues and lead to lasting problems that may be harder to fix 
if not handled immediately (​Bojczyk, Shriner, & Shriner, 2012). 
 
Play Strategies for families 
One strategy that can help both the family bond, and the development of adolescence is the use of 
strategic board games. Games like risk, chess, checkers, or even clue are games that can be helpful 
in the overall development of these children. Strategic based games help them to use their ability 
to think logically and problem solve. One other strategy that can be effective in their development 
is sports participation. Adolescent children are coming into their own physically, socially and 
cognitively and sports can help them in all these domains. Playing a sport like soccer or basketball 
will give them the ability to hone into their improved upon fine and gross motor skills, get the 
understanding and social bonds that come from being on a team and working together towards a 
common goal, and development strategies that make it possible to achieve those goals 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
References
Berk, L. E. (2013). ​Child development.​ (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Retrieved from

https://content.ashford.edu/

Bojczyk, K. E., Shriner, B. M., & Shriner, M. (2012).​ ​Supporting children’s socialization: A

developmental approach​ [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/

Mossler, R. (2014). ​Child and adolescent development (​ 2nd ed.). [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

https://content.ashford.edu/