Stages of Adolescent Development
EARLY 10-15 years MIDDLE 14-17 years LATE 16-19 years
Growth of body
  • Secondary sexual characteristics appear
  • Rapid growth reaches a peak
  • Secondary sexual characteristics advance
  • Growth slows down
  • Has reached approximately 95% of adult growth
  • Physically mature
Growth of brain (Prefrontal cortex)
  • Brain growth occurs
  • Influence on social and problem solving skills
Cognition (ability to get knowledge through different ways of thinking)
  • Uses concrete thinking (“here and now”)
  • Does not understand how a present action has result in the future
  • Thinking can be more abstract (theoretical) but goes back to concrete thinking under stress
  • Better understands results of own actions
  • Very self-absorbed
  • Most thinking is now abstract
  • Plans for the future
  • Understands how choices and decisions now have an affect on the future
Psychological and social
  • Spends time thinking about rapid physical growth and body image (how others see them)
  • Frequent changes in mood
  • Creates their body image
  • Thinks a lot about impractical or impossible dreams
  • Feels very powerful
  • Experiments with sex, drugs, friends, risks
  • Plans and follows long term goals
  • Usually comfortable with own body image
  • Understands right from wrong (morally and ethically)
  • Struggles with rules about independence/dependence
  • Argues and is disobedient
  • Argues with people in authority
  • Moving from a child-parent/guardian relationship to a more equal adult-adult relationship
Peer group
  • Important for their development
  • Intense friendships with same sex
  • Contact with opposite sex in groups
  • Strong peer friendships
  • Peer group most important and determines behaviour
  • Decisions/values less influenced by peers in favour of individual friendships
  • Selection of partner based on individual choice rather than what others think
  • Self-exploration and evaluation
  • Forms stable relationships
  • Mutual and balanced sexual relations

Source: Participants manual: IMAI one-day or orientation on adolescents living with HIV (World Health Organization, 2010).