Adolescence is a transitional phase of growth and development between childhood and adulthood, where kids grow mentally, physically, and socially all at the same time. However, the timeline of these changes is different for each child.
Therefore, a better understanding of what to anticipate at each stage can aid in the healthy development of the child and prepare them for adulthood. In this article, we will look at the different stages of adolescence for both boys and girls.
Stages Of Adulthood
Puberty is when kids reach their adult height and body proportions and develop sexual maturity. There is a great deal of variation in the rate at which these changes take place, but experts have estimated that the majority of these changes are expected to occur in stages.
Early adolescence, middle adolescence, and late adolescence make up the three main stages of adolescence.
➜ Early adolescence (ages 10 to 13)
This is the stage where puberty begins for most children. However, in some cases, it can also start earlier. During this phase, we can notice growth spurts and some other physical changes in children. Usually, changes start to appear a bit slower in boys than girls.
On average, girls start puberty a year or two ahead of boys. Body changes, like the development of small amounts of hair under the arms and genitals, are noticed in both boys and girls during early adolescence.
Males: The external genitals, including the penis, testes, and scrotum, start to grow. And it is normal to show irregularities in testicular size while it is growing.
Females: The first signs of breasts, called buds, start to form in females, which is the first visible sign of starting puberty. It is also normal to feel itchy or tender in that region at this stage. The areola, or dark area around the nipple, will start to expand.
And with time, the breast buds grow in size, and the pubic hair gets thicker and expands. It is also the stage at which most girls get their first menstruation. Usually, periods start within 2 to 3 years of breast development.
These body changes may elevate curiosity and anxiety in teens. At this stage, they face difficulties in deciding right and wrong and have limited capacity for abstract thoughts.
And most of them seem to be self-conscious about their appearance and anxious about being judged by teens. As hormones start to interfere, many teens become emotionally weak and explore ways to be independent.
➜ Middle adolescence (ages 14 to 17)
Physical changes from puberty for both females and males continue during middle adolescence. The development of acne is commonly seen in both males and females of this age group.
Males: At this stage, most boys will have started the growth spurt, and the physical changes will continue and become prominent. Testicles continue to grow bigger, and the penis gets longer. In some teen boys, minor breast development is observed, which is normal and would likely go away on its own in a couple of years.
Another typical change observed in males is the change in voice; it may crack and go lower in pitch. Also, Adam’s apple will become more obvious during this phase. The hair under the arm, pubic area, and body will thicken.
It is also common for males at this age to have erections and wet dreams (ejaculations during sleep). Their muscles in the chest and shoulders become broader when they reach middle adolescence. By 15, boys start to develop facial hair, and some might even have to start shaving.
Females: At this age, physical growth for females may have slowed down, and they will start having regular menstrual periods. On reaching mid-adolescence, their breasts take on a fuller shape and reach adult size.
By the end of 15, the reproductive organs and genitals of females are fully developed, and their hips, thighs, and buttocks fill out in shape.
Nearing mid-adolescence, many teens become interested in romantic and sexual relationships. It’s common for teens to question and explore their sexual identity at this stage.
It’s a peak stage where they are most vulnerable to body image issues and peer pressure. Arguments with parents also increase as they constantly fight for more freedom.
➜ Late adolescence (Ages 18 to 20)
By the time they reach late adolescence, most of the physical changes are complete and most of them reach adult height. Most changes that happen at this stage are cognitive.
By the time a person reaches their late teens or early 20s, they might have developed rational thinking, emotional maturity, and stable relationships with partners, peers, and family.
Adolescent years can feel like roller coasters, as they involve drastic physical and emotional changes. Most changes in puberty start at the age of 10 and culminate at 20. And it is observed that both males and females undergo these changes at a different pace.
However, at the end of late adolescence, they both reach physical or sexual maturity. Changes in puberty often call for support from parents. Parents should be aware of the stages of physical and emotional development of their kids and should provide proper guidance at each stage, which is crucial for their wellbeing.