Home>>Family Medicine>>Teen Health: Middle Adolescence

Normal Development:  Middle Adolescence

Adolescence is divided into 3 stages: early (12 to 14 years), middle (15 to 17 years), and late (18 to 20 years). While certain attitudes, behaviors, and physical milestones tend to occur at certain ages, a wide range of growth and behavior for each age is normal. These guidelines show general progress through the developmental stages rather than fixed requirements. It is perfectly natural for a teen to reach some milestones earlier and other milestones later than the general trend.

Physical Development

  • Most girls have completed the physical changes related to puberty by age 15.
  • Boys are still maturing and gaining strength, muscle mass, and height and are completing the development of sexual traits.

Emotional Development

  • May stress over school and test scores.
  • Is self-involved (may have high expectations and low self-concept).
  • Seeks privacy and time alone.
  • Is concerned about physical and sexual attractiveness.
  • May complain that parents prevent him or her from doing things independently.
  • Starts to want both physical and emotional intimacy in relationships.

Social Development

  • Is more and more aware of social behaviors of friends.
  • Seeks friends that share the same beliefs, values, and interests.
  • Friends become more important.
  • Starts to have more intellectual interests.
  • Explores romantic and sexual behaviors with others.
  • May be influenced by peers to try risky behaviors (alcohol, tobacco, sex).

Mental Development

  • Becomes better able to set goals and think in terms of the future.
  • Has a better understanding of complex problems and issues.
  • Starts to develop moral ideals and to select role models.

If you have any concerns about your teen's own pattern of development, check with your health care provider.