What happens during the first phase of adolescence: dependent but looking forward?

In the first phase of adolescence, occurring roughly between the ages of 12 and 14, your teen is dependent, but looking forward to becoming an adult. Your teen undergoes rapid physical changes, as his or her height increases, secondary sex characteristics, such as the development of breasts in girls and facial hair in boys, begin to appear, and privacy is desired. Teenagers often measure their physical appearance against an idealized image (a model in a magazine or actors and actresses on TV) and decide they need to lose weight or increase their musculature. Although sexual curiosity begins, it usually centers on a remote figure, such as a member of a rock band or a movie star, rather than their peers of the opposite sex.

Socially, teens prefer hanging out with their friends rather than spending time with their family (especially parents), and they gradually realize that their parents don't know everything and aren't perfect. Conformity with the peer group is of utmost importance to teens, and this conformity is seen in dress, hairstyles and manner of speech. The teen prefers to be with friends of the same sex and he or she shares opinions, confidences and activities with them. Teenager/parental conflicts begin, with factors such as teen rudeness, disagreements, and a feeling of invincibility, as they experiment with risky behavior, such as smoking and drugs. They live very much in the present and have a hard time seeing the results of their actions in the future.

Teenagers in the early phase of adolescence are often rigid in their concepts of right and wrong, with things being either great or gross, and they fluctuate between mature and childish behavior. While they may giggle away with their friends, you may find that they're secretive around you. On the one hand, they want to have the freedom to do as they please, but they're still financially dependent on you.




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