September 25, 1997

Adolescent Development: Middle School and Early High School Years

Source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

During adolescence, the body is rapidly changing and it is often said to be the most difficult developmental stage in one's life. Therefore, many parents are confused and uneasy about raising teenagers. Even though each teenager is different, there are certain developmental issues that all adolescents face. The following are normal feelings and behaviors of middle school and early high school adolescents which can help parents better understand the phases of adolescent development. 

Movement Towards Independence

  • Struggle with sense of identity
  • Feeling awkward or strange about one's self and one's body
  • Focus on self, alternating between high expectations and poor self-concept
  • Moodiness
  • Interests and clothing style influenced by peer group
  • Less overt affection shown to parents, with occasional rudeness
  • Complaints that parents interfere with independence
  • Tendency to return to childish behavior, particularly when stressed
Future Interests and Cognitive Changes
  • Mostly interested in present, limited thoughts of future
  • Intellectual interests expand and gain in importance
  • Display shyness
  • Concerns regarding physical and sexual attractiveness to others
  • Frequently changing relationships
  • Worries about being normal
  • Increased interest in the opposite sex
Morals, Values, and Self-Direction
  • Development of ideals and selection of role models
  • Capacity for abstract thought
  • More consistent evidence of conscience
  • Experimentation with sexual intercourse and drugs (cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana)
For more information visit American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and CFOC's Parents Screening Quiz

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