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Your Growing Child | Adolescent (13 to 18 Years)


How much will my adolescent grow?

The teenage years are also called adolescence. During this time, parents will see the greatest amount of growth in height and weight in their child. Adolescence is a time for growth spurts and puberty changes. An adolescent may grow several inches in several months followed by a period of very slow growth, then have another growth spurt. Changes with puberty (sexual maturation) may occur gradually or several signs may become visible at the same time.

There is a great amount of variation in the rate of changes that may occur. Some teenagers may experience these signs of maturity sooner or later than others.


Females (between 13 to 18 years) Males (between 13 to 18 years)
  • weight: 68 to 110 pounds
  • height: 8.5 to 9.5"
  • puberty changes: 8 t0 13 years of age
  • weight: 76 to 118 pounds
  • height: 10.5 to 20"
  • puberty changes: 9.5 to 14 years of age

What changes will occur during puberty?

Sexual and other physical maturation that occurs during puberty is a result of hormonal changes. As a child nears puberty, a gland in the brain, called the pituitary gland, increases the secretion of a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone then causes additional effects. In girls, FSH activates the ovaries to start producing estrogen. In boys, FSH causes sperm to develop.

There are specific stages of development that both boys and girls go through when developing secondary sexual characteristics (the physical characteristics of males and females that are not involved in reproduction such as voice changes, body shape, pubic hair distribution, and facial hair). The following is a brief overview of the changes that occur:

Pubic hair development is similar for both girls and boys. The initial growth of hair produces long, soft hair that is only in a small area around the genitals. This hair then becomes darker and coarser as it continues to spread. The pubic hair eventually looks like adult hair, but in a smaller area. It may spread to the thighs and, sometimes, up the stomach.

What does my adolescent understand?

The teenage years bring many changes, not only physically, but also mentally and socially. During these years, adolescents increase their ability to think abstractly and eventually make plans and set long-term goals. Each child may progress at a different rate and may have a different view of the world. In general, the following are some of the abilities that may be evident in your adolescent:

  • develops the ability to think abstractly
  • sets goals
  • compares one's self to one's peers
  • is concerned with philosophy, politics, and social issues
  • thinks long-term

As your adolescent begins to struggle for independence and control, many changes may occur. The following are some of the issues that may be involved with your adolescent during these years:

  • wants independence from parents
  • may be in love
  • male-female relationships become important
  • peer influence and acceptance becomes very important
  • has long-term commitment in relationship

How to assist your adolescent in developing socially

Consider the following as ways to foster your adolescent's social abilities:

  • encourage your adolescent to take on new challenges
  • talk with your adolescent about not losing sight of one's self in group relations
  • encourage your adolescent to talk to a trusted adult about problems or concerns, even if it is not you he/she chooses to talk with
  • discuss ways to manage and handle stress