When a child is in his adolescent years, he or she is transitioning both physically and mentally from being a child to an adult. During this period there are several different stages of development that children must go through. These stages range from early to late adolescence. Middle adolescence is the stage when the child is between the ages of 14 and 18. It is a period of significant emotional, intellectual and social development.
During middle adolescence, puberty may have already come to an end or it is close to an end. This does not mean that children will have completely stopped growing or changing, although the growth rate does begin to change between the genders. A middle adolescent boy will continue to grow physically while growth in a girl of the same age group will begin to slow down.
At this stage of adolescence, children are often more judgemental about themselves in terms of their physical appearance. There is typically a greater need to be accepted by their peers and make friendships. Parents may notice that their child has an increased interest in makeup, fashion, dieting, and exercise, for the sake of improving his or her outward appearances.
Middle adolescence is also a difficult time for parents or adults who are raising children within this age group. During this time children may be more confrontational or question authority more frequently. In some cases, they may become more secretive as opposed to argumentative. At this time they often become more independent, wishing to express themselves as individuals that are capable of making their own decisions.
The desire to have new, more adult experiences also plays a large part in middle adolescence. Children may experiment, or feel pressured to experiment, with drugs, alcohol and sex. Some children may begin to question or explore their sexual identities. Relationships with the opposite sex often become more important in terms of having a boyfriend or girlfriend. With these relationships also comes a greater interest in sexual interaction.
Intellectually, middle adolescence is a period of forward growth. A child may begin to ask questions about more adult issues. He will begin to develop and act on his personal sense of right and wrong. The future becomes more important as he begins to think of his goals as an adult and make plans in terms of education. Middle adolescence is also a time when most children learn to drive and get their first real job.