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Growth & Development: 16-18 Years

The late adolescent years are a time of rapid and intense growth; physically, mentally, and emotionally; where your child will continue to assert his independence and find his own identity in the world. This is a long journey for your child, and it is important to remain there to guide and support him throughout this rebellious and challenging period. Teenagers face many challenges and temptations, so it is also important to sustain a positive relationship with open communication and trust so that you can help them be as safe and healthy as possible. Also, remember to remain a good role model throughout these years, as your teens are developing moral codes that shape them into the adult they will soon become. It is important to understand that every child is different, and will undergo the following changes according to what's right for his or her body.

How to Support Your Child's Learning Process

  • Remain engaged in your child's education, and meet with teachers or counselors yearly.
  • Help your child in her search for future career paths, and research colleges with her if you decide it's the right path for her.
  • Although your teen may want you to be less involved in her life, including helping her with schoolwork, remain a resource for her and help her to stay organized and focused.

Developmental Milestones

Adolescence is a time of many transitions both for teens and their families. In order to successfully navigate these changes, it is important for you to understand what is happening to your teen physically, cognitively, and socially, and understand what you can do to support your child's growth and development. They will finish puberty and become accustomed to their new adult bodies, and therefore develop a greater sense of themselves as a person. They begin to look towards the future at career paths and furthering their education, and will also begin to develop the capacity for healthy romantic relationships.

Social & Emotional Development

  • Movement towards independence
  • Firmer sense of self
  • Developed sense of humor
  • Ability to compromise and make important decisions
  • Movement towards autonomy
  • May experiment in risk taking behavior

Cognitive Development

  • Increased concern for the future
  • Well defined work habits
  • Greater capacity for setting goals
  • Self-regulation
  • Growth in abstract thought
  • Tend to be self-absorbed

Physical Development

  • 95% of adult height reached
  • Advanced growth of secondary sex characteristics such as facial and body hair in boys, and breasts in girls
  • Continued brain development until late adolescence.

Sexual Development

Teens begin to develop more serious relationships with an increased capacity for sensual and tender love. They develop a clear sexual identity, as they have finished puberty and have a good sense of their bodies and what they can do. Teach your child to be proud of his or her body and to take care of it, because it's the only one they have! Remember to talk to your child early about sexuality; including sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, protection, and the formation of healthy relationships; because at this point they may have already gotten incomplete or wrong information elsewhere. It is important that you remain a resource for them to guide and help them make informed, responsible decisions.

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