Adolescent Development and Behavior: What to Expect

Phase Task Typical Behavior
Preadolescence
(9-11)
Begins to form ties
outside family.
Physical restlessness;
fidgeting

Arguments with
parents over rules,
neatness, time
management.

“Bathroom” humor

Boys part of “gang,”
companions in adventures.
Girls choose
“best” friend to share
secrets.

Early Adolescence
(12-13)
Gains some independence
from parent rules
and values.

Adjusts to new body
image.

Self-absorption,
touchiness.

Impulsive, inconsistent
mood swings.

Constantly hungry, but
can be finicky eater.

“Bedroom” humor.

Develops close friend
like self, often someone
with qualities

wished for in self.

May develop “crush” on
older man or woman.

Adolescence
(14-15)
Discovers personal
strengths and
capabilities.

Develops ability for
abstract thought.

May be interested in
the opposite sex.

Forms sexual identity.

Intense emotional lifeheightened
senses
(especially eyes and
ears)

Analyzes ideas and
considers own values.

First “tender love.”

Tests own limits—
excessive physical
exertion or risk-taking.
Late Adolescence
(16-20+)
Consolidates
personality.

Self-regulates
behavior.

Gains physical
independence from
parents.

Predictable

Takes responsibility
for self and actions.

Chooses vocational
goals.

Prepares for marriage
and parenthood.



Original Publication Date:

Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.

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