Tweens, teens and teenagers – the milestones you can expect
Tweens (ages 10 – 11)
- Signs of puberty appear (particularly in girls, boys start puberty around 12).
- Self-awareness is high; emotional development may not keep up.
- Having friends and fitting in is important - peer pressure is evident.
- Physical changes may spur body image issues.
- School is more academically challenging.
- Independence is growing.
- Physical activity is important, and lack of it could jeopardise current and future health.
- Rapid growth means they need adequate nutrition.
Chat about the normal physical, emotional and social changes occurring with puberty. Encourage healthy friendships and talk about how to deal with negative peer pressure. Ensure your child is well nourished and engaging in age-appropriate physical activity.
Young Teens (ages 12 – 14)
- Experience moodiness.
- Appear uninterested and less affectionate toward parents.
- Develop a stronger sense of right and wrong.
- Gain independence as they make more choices about friends, sports and school.
- Place more importance on clothes and appearance.
- Boys grow facial and pubic hair, their voices deepen, and sex organs mature.
- Girls develop breasts, grow body hair and usually start their periods.
- Stress may creep in at school.
- Eating problems and feelings of sadness and depression may arise.
Try to be patient and understanding during this time. Talking about sensitive subjects such as smoking, sex and alcohol may be necessary. Reinforce the importance of personal hygiene, healthy nutrition and getting in adequate exercise.
Teenagers (ages 15 – 18)
- Mental health issues can develop at this age that can lead to poor grades, alcohol or drug use and other health concerns.
- Develop unique personalities and opinions.
- Display more interest in romance and sexuality.
- Distance themselves from their parents.
- Place increasing importance on friendships.
- Girls are likely to be physically mature by now, boys may be playing catch-up.
- Healthy nutrition and physical activity is important to prevent obesity and health problems in adulthood.
- Uni, careers and plans after high school are on the cards.
The path to adulthood is rocky (for you both), but your teenager still needs love and support. As they begin navigating career paths, listen to what they have to say and help guide them towards the right decisions.
Important things to know
Information correct as at October 2018