Janine Smith

Teenage Behaviour & Development

This is a time of huge change and development – your child is becoming an adult and is changing physically, emotionally and socially. Relationships and friendships change and develop and they can be influenced more by their peers, their teachers, by social media and by youtubers than by their parents.

For your child it can be a time of insecurity and isolation and for you it can be a time of conflict and of loss as your child starts to change and develop into an adult. Your teenager’s brain is still developing so they take more risks than adults, they have less self control and it can be difficult for them to read emotions – the world can be an exciting place but it can also be scary for them to learn to navigate on their own.


Physical Development

  • a need for food and sleep
  • acne may develop
  • more sweat
  • they can seem a bit clumsy



  • still growing taller but at a slower pace – adult height may be reached by the time they are 16-17 years old
  • breasts develop
  • pubic hair thickens and darkens
  • underarm air thickens
  • their shape can change as their hips widen and their bum, thighs and belly develops a layer of fat
  • periods start and will gradually become more regular


  • rapid growth in height and with muscle development
  • their voice will deepen
  • pubic and underarm hair thickens
  • genitals enlarge and they will begin to ejaculate


They may be able to…

  • argue
  • reason
  • focus on the future
  • make decisions
  • tell the difference between fact and fiction
  • evaluate information
  • challenge the beliefs held by other people
  • set goals for themselves
  • see their strengths and their weaknesses

Social/emotional development


  • may be feeling uncertain and unsure about themselves and the people around them as they may feel watched or judged
  • more aware of and concerned about body image
  • may seem withdrawn – can need their privacy, being in their room, not very sociable
  • squabbling with friends



  • starts to be embarrassed by their parents
  • becoming busy – there might be part of more groups and they may do more with friend
  • likely to be friends with both girls and boys now
  • may be developing a romantic/sexual interest in others now



  • may struggle to communicate
  • could be argumentative, even provoking arguments
  • probably has important friendships
  • may be dating



  • may start to feel a bit more comfortable with themselves
  • friendships are still important
  • may start to relax with their parents and even start to see them as people


What can help?

  • clear and consistent boundaries – especially with school work and going out
  • communication – keep talking
  • be available when they need you – teenagers might not want a lot of family time but they do need to share and get reassurance
  • talk to them about friends, relationships, body image, sex when they want to
  • try not to take it personally when they get cross with you and reject your company or your offer of help
  • try to be their safety net – so you and home are safe for them to admit to mistakes and problems
  • for parents the teenage years can be hard – there is more emotion, more arguments and more rejection. Teenagers want to be independent and they don’t want to be told what to do.


Janine | Birth, Baby & Family
Mum of two teenagers and a specialist in parent support

This entry was posted in: Janine Smith


An experienced specialist in pregnancy, birth & early parenting, I have worked with parents since 2002. I am based in the North East so I regularly work with parents from Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead and across North Tyneside. Face-to-face sessions will continue with North East parents but digital courses and online sessions means I can work with parents everywhere.