What to Expect as your Young Person goes through Puberty

Written by Lori Reichel, Ph.D.

  |  Reviewed by Hina J. Talib, MD

Caregivers can expect several growth and developmental changes as a child grows into adolescence, including: physical development, social and emotional development, cognitive development, and motor and sensory development. Between the ages of 11 to 14 years your young person should grow  stronger and taller. They will also begin to feel, as well as think, in significantly more mature ways. You may feel surprised as you watch your preteen or teen start to develop into a grown-up.

  • Those assigned female at birth will start their periods and begin to grow breasts, while those assigned male at birth begin to grow facial hair.
  • Young people of all genders will experience growth spurts, weight gain, grow body and pubic hair, and experience body odor, sweating, and acne.
  • In the area of cognitive development, your young person’s brain will grow in its capacity to think, reason, learn, and remember.
  • Regarding social and emotional development, you can expect your young person to prefer to be more self-sufficient and independent from their family; hormonal changes can also affect their mood and emotions.
  • You may even notice your preteen or teen becoming more clumsy or awkward, this is simply a phase of their motor and sensory development.

All of these changes can feel awkward and confusing to a developing adolescent. They may compare themselves to their peers and feel insecure about certain aspects of the way they look, how they are developing, and the many changes that are happening to their body (such as acne, weight gain, breasts, hair etc.)

As a caregiver, it is important to communicate with and educate young people about the normal changes that they are experiencing during puberty. Encourage them to appreciate and identify the strengths and abilities that make them unique. Use this time to let go and promote some independence in decision making and responsibilities. To learn more about what to expect and find tools to navigate puberty explore BLOOM’s Puberty section of the HUB.