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5 Developmental Milestones: 12 - 15 Years Old


Learn about the social, emotional, physical and intellectual milestones of children in your child's age group.

Click on an item in the set below to see more info.

Developmental Tasks

Adolescents 12 - 15 years old make the leap from junior high to high school! Becoming small fish in a big sea, these kids strive to stay afloat during this exciting and turbulent time. They work to create their own identity based on their values, their communities, and their futures.

Physical Growth

Traits: Experiences abrupt and quick increases in height, weight, and strength. Girls reach physical and sexual maturity, and boys' body changes begin. Acne appears. Focused on appearance.

Advice for Parents: Explain the body changes. Discourage comparing to peers. May need special diet or medication for acne. Discuss consequences of sex, birth control and safe sex.

Cognitive Development

Traits: Enjoys heated arguments and discussions. Improved ability to memorize and think logically. Plans realistically for future. Needs to feel important.

Advice for Parents: Prevent discussions from becoming arguments. Support ideas and exploration. Encourage teen to join causes, like religious and community groups.

Social Growth

Traits: Withdraws from parents. Usually rebels against parents. Boys typically resist showing affection. Annoyed by younger siblings. Forms group of friends.

Advice for Parents: Don't take it personally. Set clear, firm, flexible limits. Resist criticizing your child's need for friends. Help siblings cope with rejection.

Emotional Characteristics

Traits: Worries about grades, appearance, and popularity. May sulk. Verbally directs anger towards authority figures. Withdrawn. Introspective.

Advice for Parents: Accept her feelings, and accept respect for your feelings as well. Recognize concerns. Provide truthful and gentle feedback.

Moral Maturation

Traits: Knows right from wrong. Tries to weigh alternatives to make decisions on own. Concerned how others are treated. Usually thoughtful. Unlikely to lie.

Advice for Parents: Assist teen in decision making. Treat youth with the respect of an emerging adult.

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Possible Setbacks?

Growing adolescents are capable of learning and doing more. They also are more susceptible to a great variety of risks and struggles: Delays in development. Extreme rebellion. Drug and alcohol abuse. Depression. Eating disorders. Sexual activity. Truancy. Juvenile delinquency. Psychosis.