Physical and Emotional Development

Every child’s social development is different, during adolescence a child passes through many physical and emotional changes. Physical changes include breast development, growth of pubic and body hair, starts of periods etc. however, during emotional changes the child shows strong feelings and intense emotions at different times, mood swing becomes unpredictable and they become more self-conscious.

As teenager, you go through many physical, mental, emotional, and social changes. The biggest change is puberty, the process of becoming sexually mature.

During this time, you start to develop your own unique personality and opinions. Some changes that you might notice include:

  • Increased independence from your parents
  • More concerns about body image and clothes
  • More influence from peers
  • Greater ability to sense right and wrong

Physical changes: For girls, you might start to see early physical changes from about 10-11 years, but this can be seen as young as 8, or as old as 13 years.

Physical changes around puberty include:

  • Breast development
  • Changes in body shape and height
  • Growth of pubic and body hair
  • Start of periods (menstruation)

Social and Emotional Development

  • Preteens and teens begin to spend more time with peers and less time with family.
  • Preteens and teens begin to form their identity by exploring different clothes, hairstyles, friends, music, and hobbies.
  • Moodiness is common as youth struggle to search for an identity.
  • Preteens and teens push limits that adults put on them to assert their independence.
  • Preteens and teens have mixed feelings about "breaking away" from parents. One day your daughter may want nothing to do with you, the next she is constantly at your side.
  • Troubled youth may act out (for example, get into physical fights, use alcohol or other drugs, skip school, etc.) to express emotional pain.


  • The sudden and rapid physical changes that adolescents go through make adolescents very self-conscious, sensitive, and worried about their own body changes. They may make painful comparisons about themselves with their peers.
  • Because physical changes may not occur in a smooth, regular schedule, adolescents may go through awkward stages, both about their appearance and physical coordination. Girls may be anxious if they are not ready for the beginning of their menstrual periods. Boys may worry if they do not know about nocturnal emissions.

Intellectual Development

  • Most 11- to 14-year-olds are still concrete thinkers. They perceive things as good or bad, right or wrong. This is normal. They are just beginning to imagine possibilities, recognise consequences of their actions, and anticipate what others are thinking.
  • Youth begin to question family and school rules and challenge their parents.
  • Preteens and teens tend to believe that bad things won't happen to them. This helps explain why they are risk-takers. For example, a young girl may believe she can smoke cigarettes without becoming addicted.
  • Preteens and teens believe they are the centre of attention. This explains why they are painfully self-conscious – a tiny pimple may seem like the end of the world.