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At a Glance
• High-schoolers need lots of sleep and food because they’re growing fast.
• Friends might become as important to teens as family is.
• As high-schoolers begin developing more mature thinking skills, they may start setting goals for the future.
Development really takes off in high school. Awkward tweens turn into high-schoolers who start looking and thinking more like adults with the skills to envision the future. Here are some typical developmental milestones in teens.
The difference in growth between boys and girls is very noticeable at this age. Boys are just hitting the age at which they start to grow rapidly, while girls are starting to slow down.
By the end of high school, girls are likely to have grown as tall as they’re going to be. Boys often are still growing and gaining muscle strength. There’s a big difference in physical milestones between the sexes and between individual kids. Typically, though, high-schoolers:
• Have a big appetite; are always hungry
• Need more sleep; may be sleepy in school if it starts early
• Are clumsy and uncoordinated because of growing so quickly
• Have the hand-eye coordination to learn to drive
In the mid- to late-teenage years, kids start thinking less about just their own life and more about how the whole world works. But that change is a gradual process that doesn’t happen all at once. During high school, teens are likely to:
• Show an increasing ability to reason, make educated guesses and sort fact from fiction
• Start thinking more abstractly, comparing what is to what could be
• Think about and come up with ways to deal with hypothetical situations
• Begin to set their own goals for the future; take other opinions into account but make their own decisions
• Understand the consequences of actions, not just today, but also in a more far-reaching way (for example, they might see that failing English isn’t just a bummer—it can mean summer school, too)
• Develop a strong sense of right and wrong; make decisions based on following their conscience
Social and Emotional Milestones
There are huge changes in social and emotional skill between the ages of 14 and 18. The emotional maturity of a high school freshman is very different from that of a graduating senior. Here’s what you’re likely to see at different ages.
• Can recognize personal strengths and weaknesses
• Are embarrassed by family and parents
• Are eager to be accepted by peers may have many friends
• Don’t want to talk as much; are argumentative
• Appreciate siblings more than parents
• Narrow down to a few close friends; may start dating
• Analyze their own feelings and try to find the cause of them
16- to 18-Year-Olds
• Start relating to family better; begin to see parents as real people
• Develop a better sense of who they are and what positive things they can contribute to friendships and other relationships
• Spend lot of time with friends
• Are able to voice emotions (both negative and positive) and try to find solutions to conflicts