Normal Adolescent Development Essay Research Paper Normal

Normal Adolescent Development Essay, Research Paper

Normal Adolescent Development

from: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology

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.

Early Adolescence (12-14 years)

Movement Towards Independence

*Struggle with sense of identity


*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, fought off by excessive activity

*Peer group influence interests and clothing styles

Career Interests

Mostly interested in present and near future

Greater ability to work


Girls ahead of boys

Same-sex friends and group activities

Shyness, blushing and modesty

Show-off qualities

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

Middle Adolescence

Movement Towards Independence

*Self-involvement, alternating between unrealistically high expectations and poor self-concept

*Complaints that parents interfere with independence

*Extremely concerned with appearance and with one’s own body

*Feelings of strangeness about one’s self and body

*Lowered opinion of parents, withdrawal of emotions from them

*Effort to make new friends

*Strong emphasis on the new peer group with the group identity of selectivity, superiority and competitiveness

*Periods of sadness as the psychological loss of the parents takes place

*Examination of inner experiences, which may include writing a diary

Career Interests

Intellectual interests gain importance

Some sexual and aggressive energies directed into creative and career interests


Concerns about sexual attractiveness

Frequently changing relationships

Movement towards heterosexuality with fears of homosexuality

Tenderness and fears shown towards opposite sex

Feelings of love and passion

Ethics and Self-Description

Development of ideals and selection of role models

More consistent evidence of conscience

Greater capacity for setting goals

Interest in moral reasoning

Late Adolescence (17-19 years)

Movement Towards 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


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 the descriptions in the charts above, 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 a teenager seems very different from the descriptions presented here, it may be appropriate to consult with a mental health professional.


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