What is adolescence?

Adolescence is the time between childhood and adulthood - between the ages of 12 to 18 -- that is marked by growth and change, and physical and emotional development.

The physical and mental changes are predictable, but that doesn't make this age group any easier to understand and communicate with.


At the onset of adolescence, children develop the ability to understand abstract concepts, question values, develop a more mature sense of identity and learn to establish personal relationships. The physical changes at this age are dramatic, as boys and girls gradually grow into men and women. Behavioral changes stem from the physical developments, which cause self-consciousness and sensitivity to body changes, as well as the insecurity that comes with comparison. Adolescents are often preoccupied with themselves, and this can cause anxiety when the changes in development are not always consistent with those of peers, and the periods of awkwardness don't happen to everyone at the same time or in the same way.

Adolescence is a time when a child starts to become his own person, and the separation from parents begins. As adolescents begin to establish an individual identity, rebelliousness and peer influence may sometimes cause conflicts with parents. Positive adult role models can play an important role as young adults start to make their own decisions. Adolescents are not always aware of potential dangers surrounding them and their newfound individuality and freedom, and parental control and authority is often challenged. Knowing how to set limits and how to keep lines of communication open is crucial for parents at this stage. Adolescence follows a well-known pattern, and part of accepting this is to acknowledge the fact that transition to adulthood is a challenging time for both parents and the adolescent.