Physical, Emotional and Social Changes Teenagers Experience

Physical, Emotional and Social Changes Teenagers Experience

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Physical, Emotional and Social Changes Teenagers Experience

The teenage years are the most confusing and challenging time for both children and parents. It can be a source of anger and frustration for them since adolescents try to establish independence, an aspect that may weaken their bond if not properly handled. More often than not, parents clash with their adolescents during this stage of growth because teenagers are on a self-discovery journey and may appear rebellious. Conflict can emerge for various reasons, including but not limited to poor communication between the parent and the adolescent, differences in opinions, a shift in the family dynamics, different belief systems, studies, choice of a partner, access and use of electronic gadgets such as phones and religious beliefs (Goldfarb & Lieberman 2015). Since conflict during this stage is inevitable, parents must be more understanding but stern with their adolescents. In addition, they should invest their time and energy in building and maintaining healthy relationships with their children. Parents’ positive energy and patience help teenagers grow healthier, be intentional and critical in their decisions and actions and tighten bonds with other family members.

Parents need to understand the physical changes adolescents go through to support them and assure them that nothing is wrong with the physical changes they are experiencing. The rate at which these changes occur varies. Some teenagers may experience the signs of maturity earlier than their peers, while others are late bloomers. In most cases, adolescents may take several months to grow several inches. Shortly after, they experience a slow growth rate before experiencing another growth spurt. Sexual maturation, otherwise known as puberty, may happen gradually alongside other signs. The hormonal changes in the body trigger sexual and other physical maturation (Albert et al., 2013). Contrary to girls, boy’s changes are gradual and occur over a period of time rather than a single event, making it challenging to know when it’s coming.

Puberty usually occurs between the ages of nine and fourteen for boys and eight to thirteen for girls. The first pubertal change in boys is the enlargement of the testicles. Penis enlargement follows approximately after a year. Pubic hair appears between the ages of thirteen and fourteen. At fourteen years old, boys experience nocturnal emissions, also known as “wet dreams” (Zilk, 2020). Finally, at fifteen, the voice changes/breaks, and hair grows in their underarms and faces. Some boys may develop acne during this stage as well. Meanwhile, the first pubertal change in girls is the enlargement of breasts. Shortly after the breasts develop, pubic hair grows. Girls also grow hair under their arms at the age of twelve. Finally, girls experience menstrual periods between the ages of ten and sixteen. Parents also need to be aware of specific developmental stages characterized by secondary sexual characteristics for both boys and girls, such as pubic hair distribution, body shape and voice changes.

Furthermore, the teenage years increase the ability of adolescents to think abstractly and set long-term goals. However, parents must understand that children may have different world perspectives since they progress at different rates. They begin to engage in political, philosophical and social conversations, think critically and compare themselves to their peers. Most teenagers struggle to find their own identity. They try out new friendship groups, music tastes, sports, subcultures and clothing styles to make them unique (Allen, 2020). During these years, family, culture, friends and the media influence their choices. Moreover, adolescents may start taking on more responsibilities in different settings. For instance, they may begin doing chores, being a school counselor or cooking dinner for the family. For this reason, parents need to engage them and properly and patiently guide how to go about complex responsibilities.

Besides developing stronger sets of morals and values, teenagers desire to have new experiences, including risky ones. Parents need to understand that this is perfectly okay because they are exploring their abilities and limits and at the same time testing the boundaries their parents set for the. However, parents should be present and vigilant during this stage because teenagers have not fully developed to think about the consequences of their actions and can sometimes be reckless. Additionally, some teenagers may start having romantic relationships. Sometimes it can be from a place of influence from their peers or social media platforms.

However, most adolescents don’t explore intimate relationships until later in their lives. Parents need to understand this chapter of their children’s growth to offer appropriate guidance and counseling without sounding too controlling and rigid. This can only happen if they create a neutral and safe environment where their children can comfortably talk about these changes in their lives. Parents can start with open communication with their children, frequent conversations about different issues without necessarily projecting on them and building trust. In terms of emotional changes, adolescents may develop intense emotions and unpredictable moods, become more sensitive to others and be self-conscious (Allen, 2020). During this period, parents notice that their children want to spend more time with their peers than with family. For parents to successfully tackle this stage, they need to pay attention to their children’s feelings, use appropriate words when addressing them, be open about their feelings, know their children’s friends to understand their social dynamics and most importantly, be role models.


Teenagehood can be overwhelming, especially for children, because they are bombarded with physical, emotional and social changes and don’t know how to navigate them. It is a big time for relationship changes, changes in their emotions and abilities to make meaningful connections with people around them. For parents to maneuver this turbulent time with their children, they need to evolve, especially in their roles as parents. For instance, they need to take the sidelines as the supporters of their children rather than assuming the role of a constant protector, as it can frustrate both them and the children. However, this does not mean that the parent should let go of their primary roles and responsibilities towards their children. Instead, they have to strike a balance between their involvement in their adolescent’s lives and the extent of independence they offer them.


Albert, D., Chein, J., & Steinberg, L. (2013). The teenage brain: Peer influences on adolescent decision making. Current directions in psychological science, 22(2), 114-120.

Allen, V. (2020). Strategies for understanding and supporting teenagers through school. In Supporting Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties in School (pp. 41-45). Routledge.

Goldfarb, E. S., & Lieberman, L. (2015). Sexuality education during adolescence. In Evidence-based Approaches to Sexuality Education (pp. 242-260). Routledge.

Zilka, G. C. (2020). Teenagers connected to digital environments–what happens when they get to school? Commonalities, similarities and differences from their perspective. Education and Information Technologies, 25(3), 1743-1758.