development stages of teens

The Three Stages of Adolescence

September 25, 2018

Decision Making and the Three Stages of Adolescence

The years from puberty until adulthood are known as adolescence. They are divided into three smaller stages: early adolescence, middle adolescence, and late adolescence. The human body goes through a large amount of physical development during these years, as well as important elements of social, intellectual, and psychological development. This process of growth allows a child to grow, develop an identity of their own, and prepare to be an adult.

Before, parents were able to enforce their will upon a child. Obedience was expected and often received. However, as the teen ages, it becomes more and more difficult to achieve these results. Instead, it’s essential to become involved with the teenager at a high level and to be ready to intervene if the teen refuses to make the healthy choices for themselves.

Physical Development

Teenagers’ bodies grow far faster than their minds, and it’s common for teens to make decisions that aren’t the wisest. Physical development is often far faster than intellectual development, so it’s important that parents take the time to understand this, and that they help their teen work through the process as they grow. Otherwise, everyone will just end up frustrated, a lot of yelling will happen in the home, and no one will ever really understand how puberty affected everything.

Instead, parents need to spend the time necessary to learn about the changes that their child is going through, both physical and intellectual. These changes can dramatically affect their behavior and it’s important that one understands them.

Intellectual Development

Many individuals begin adolescence with a basic perception of the world in black and white. The world around them is either good or bad, right or wrong. This means that a younger adolescent is often genuinely incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions.

As they age into later adolescence, teens begin to understand the nuance of individual situations and ideas and to see how their actions affect their future. However, they may still have a tendency to act without thinking. This difference can be incredibly difficult for parents to understand and can lead to very poor decisions, especially when the teens are making said decisions based on their friends’ opinions. It is often at this age that experimentation with drugs can begin, as teenagers fall victim to peer pressure or are away from home and unsupervised more frequently.

Emotional Development

Teenagers are well known for working as hard as possible to assert their independence. This means that they have to spend time proving that they’re separate beings from their parents in an ongoing march toward their own autonomy. As they age you may find that your teenager pushes limits, argues, and is gone from home as frequently as possible, yet also seeks out your attention and values your opinions.

This constant push-pull can be difficult for parents, emotionally, as they struggle to relate to their child in the ways that they’ve used for their entire life, only to realize that they are no longer effective. Instead, it’s important to spend time developing new coping skills and new parenting methods. If parents struggle at this point, it may be time to turn to books, online resources, or therapy in order to learn vital parenting skills.

If the teenager suffers from a mental health condition, it is especially important that the parent learn the skills that they need in order to help keep them safe. Otherwise, the teen is at risk of developing a dual diagnosis disorder, that is, a mental illness that is accompanied by a substance abuse disorder. This type of disease can haunt a family for a lifetime. Seeking treatment as early as possible is a vital part of caring for a troubled teen.

We’re Here to Help

If you find that your teenager is making unacceptable decisions and has begun using drugs or alcohol, especially if they already have a mental health diagnosis, you may need to seek out professional help. There are facilities available that can assist you as you work to help them make better choices, even if they are in need of both treatments for addiction and psychological care. If you’re in need of this type of service, contact teen treatment services from Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center to learn how they can assist you and your family.