Development High School and Beyond

Parents are often worried or confused by changes in their teenagers. The following information should help parents understand this phase of development. Each teenager is an individual with a unique personality and special interests, likes and dislikes. However, there are also numerous developmental issues that everyone faces during the adolescent years. The normal feelings and behaviors of the late high school adolescent are described below.

Movement towards Independence

  • Increased independent functioning
  • Firmer and more cohesive sense of identity
  • Examination of inner experiences
  • Ability to think ideas through
  • Conflict with parents begins to decrease
  • Increased ability for delayed gratification and compromise
  • Increased emotional stability
  • Increased concern for others
  • Increased self-reliance
  • Peer relationships remain important and take an appropriate place among other interests

Future Interests and Cognitive Changes

  • Work habits become more defined
  • Increased concern for the future
  • More importance is placed on one’s role in life

Sexuality

  • Feelings of love and passion
  • Development of more serious relationships
  • Firmer sense of sexual identity
  • Increased capacity for tender and sensual love

Morals, Values, and Self-Direction

  • Greater capacity for setting goals
  • Interest in moral reasoning
  • Capacity to use insight
  • Increased emphasis on personal dignity and self-esteem
  • Social and cultural traditions regain some of their previous importance

Teenagers do vary slightly from the above descriptions, but the feelings and behaviors are, in general, considered normal for each stage of adolescence.


Free distribution of single Factssheets is a public service made possible by the Academy Endowment Fund. This fund supports educational programs and materials designed to educate parents, families, teachers, caregivers, and others about the mental illnesses affecting nearly 12.5 million children and adolescents in an effort to de-stigmatize these illnesses, promote early identification and treatment, and encourage funding for scientifically based research.

Please make a tax deductible contribution to the Academy Endowment Fund and support this public outreach. (AACAP Endowment Fund – FFF, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090)

Facts for Families © is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale or profit. A complete set of over 60 Facts sheets covering issues facing children and adolescents is available for $18.00 ($15.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling). Please make checks payable to: AACAP, and send requests to Public Information, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090-6106.

Copyright © 1997 by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Presented with permission of the AACAP