The terms child and adolescent are easily confused. Most of us think the term child and adolescent are interchangeable, but in fact, they are not. A child is considered a human that is under the age of puberty. An adolescent is a person between the age of puberty and adulthood. If you are a parent, you are aware of the difference between a child and an adolescent. Adolescents no longer depend on you like they used to, and now everything is changing; which means you will need more patience. Transitioning from childhood to adolescence is tough but have an awareness of things to come can make the transition easier.
Children are such fragile beings. They go from crawling to walking so quickly. The first stage of childhood development begins from birth to age 2. Within two years, a parent learns the uniqueness of their child. The infant begins to show a personality. Through the care given to them by their parents, they develop self-esteem and trust. After the infant years comes the toddler stage. Toddlers fall in the age range of 2-5. Walking and temper tantrums characterize this stage of life. It is imperative you keep an eye on your child. Now they are walking, they are going everywhere and getting into everything. The “terrible twos” is now very present. They have emotional breakdowns when they cannot get their way. It is in this stage where they have to learn the word no. They too begin to seek independence. You may find their clothes no longer fit because they are growing so fast. Near the end of this stage is when kids typically begin school.
The next stage of childhood is school age. That includes children ages 6-12. Children start learning new skills, and most of them are interested in trying new things. Many kids start finding out what they are good at during this stage. They try all kinds of sports or instruments. They make take a choir class or art. School age can be the busiest time for a parent. The good thing is that a school age child does not need 24-hour supervision. At this age children can handle more responsibilities. They can do their homework without being watched. They may have chores they can do to help around the house. At this point, children have a good understanding of what is right and wrong. Anytime rules are disobeyed punishment ensues. Kids begin to develop values and morals during this stage and most of the time what they think or believe reflects their parents.
Once puberty hits, your child is no longer a child anymore but now is considered an adolescent. Adolescence starts at age 13 and lasts until the age of 18 when that person is regarded as an adult. Adolescence is divided into three stages: early, middle, and late. Early adolescence is ages 11-14; middle adolescence is ages 15-17; late adolescence is considered by many to be 18-20. During this time, there is physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development. These changes help prepare a child to become an adult. The physical changes are significant. In early adolescents, most of those changes first begin. Some children may begin puberty as early as 11 while others may not experience puberty until 14 or 15. Kids especially boys hit growth spurts. By mid-adolescence, a child has nearly stopped growing. They have now reached their adult height and weight. It is also during these years that a person can have kids.
The intellect of a person begins to develop during these years. They start to see beyond just right and wrong. They consider new options and other ways of doing things. At the beginning of adolescents, a child is not considering their future, but by the end, they sometimes have a plan for what they want to do. They have a care for others at this stage and learn how to solve difficult problems. Emotional changes can be a headache. An adolescent now wants independence and goes through a lot of mood swings. They struggle with wanting to be free from home yet being unsure about life ahead. They spend a lot of time with their friends, and although they do love you, they may not say it a lot. Social development is very easy for some and very difficult for others. Adolescents now have relationships outside of their family. During this stage of life, having a boyfriend or girlfriend is popular. The desire for love and romantic relationships grows. The opposite sex no longer has cooties but are now considered cute. At this time, an adolescent now has a best friend or a few best friends that they are with all the time. It is a fun stage of growth and development.
Not all children develop at the same rate. During adolescent years, kids tend to compare themselves to others. The changes that occur during childhood and adolescence are not only stressful for the parents, but it is new to the child. As a parent, you watch a human being go from complete dependence upon you to being completely independent. Many move away from home during that late adolescent stage, and some may even get married or start having children. The stages of development are crucial to who you will become later on in life. For a parent, those stages should be enjoyed; you will never get them back. With each stage comes a new opportunity for you as well to learn and grow. Eventually, that adolescent becomes an adult who will be needing your advice on everything again; and in most cases become your friend.
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