10 Typical Characteristics of Teenagers

The teenage years are a unique period of growth and development that are filled with energy, excitement and new experiences 1. No two teens are alike and each experience their teen years uniquely. Parental and cultural influences affect teenage development in different ways. However, all of them go through hormonal changes and physical changes that contribute to forming their sense of independence and identity.

Independent, Emotional and Rebellious

Typical teenage rebellion can last up to six years and can include defiant behavior and rapidly changing moods, according to Dr. Barton D. Schmitt reported in the article, "Adolescents: Dealing with Normal Rebellion," on the Children's Physician Network's website. Although not all teenagers become rebellious, many do become more resistant to authority, often having a major impact on family dynamics and personal relationships. Teens form their self-concept and sense of identity by establishing independence from parents, sometimes engaging in emotional verbal conflict with family or other rebellious behavior.

Energetic, Adventurous and Risk-Taking

Sleep patterns may change as teens are often full of energy and prefer to stay up later. Incomplete frontal lobe development makes it difficult for most teens to control impulses, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 6. Adventurous or risk-taking behavior is not uncommon. Teens often have a need for excitement and adventure, which sometimes causes them to overlook the potential dangers involved in risk-taking activities, such as unprotected sexual activity or drug experimentation.

Maturing Physically, Hormonal, Sexually Aware and Social

Teenagers may experience significant growth spurts between the ages of 13 and 18. Hormonal levels increase, as adolescent girls begin producing more estrogen. Teen girls fill out physically, begin menstruation, gain weight and can grow almost 10 inches taller between these ages. Teen boys also experience hormonal changes and begin producing more testosterone. Physical changes common in adolescent boys include growth of facial hair and significant weight gain. Teen boys can grow up to 20 inches taller between these ages. Physical and hormonal changes also bring about an increased sexual awareness, leading many teens to begin to experiment with their sexuality. Many teenagers begin to engage in sexual activity early in adolescence, according to a report in “Pediatrics,” the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some teens might become involved in a sexual relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend or dedicate much of their time to socialization. Time with friends sometimes takes priority over schoolwork or time with family.

Intellectual Growth

Teens grow intellectually during adolescence and are able to begin making life goals. The ability to understand abstract reasoning increases and teens begin to consider and conceptualize possibilities to hypothetical situations. Some teens might begin to question their parents’ points of view, and they may enjoy debating ideas. Organizational skills tend to improve, as many teens are able to handle multiple responsibilities, including work, socialization and school, according to The Palo Alto Medical Foundation 1. However, impulsivity often wins over intellectual growth, and teens often act before thinking of long-term consequences.

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