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Middle Adolescence

Middle adolescence occurs during the ages of 15-17 years when puberty is completed and the intense struggles for independence and freedom begin. During these years the influence of friends and popular youth culture are at a maximum. Behaviour of young people at this stage mirror their influences, exposure and peer group. Middle adolescents crave belonging and are solidifying a sense of identity. It is imperative that parents understand the influences and interests of young people at this stage to provide the required guidance.


Due to increases in conflict, it is a time when parents experience burnout and apathy and often require additional support. Psychologically, middle adolescents have the capability of more abstract thinking - the ability to reason things out and take into account non-tangible factors.


Despite this, teenagers feel invincible and often believe that the world does indeed revolve around them and their lives. They may know better, and see consequences all around them, but will still take that one risky chance, because they believe, after all…”it may happen to someone else…but that will never happen to me”. Some of the reasons for seemingly random risk-taking behaviour in adolescents can be explained by documented changes in

the teen brain. Maturation of areas of the higher cognitive processes of reasoning, planning, and judgement lag behind impulse and pleasure-seeking reward centres. The end result, middle adolescent pursue the things that feel good.


While some experimentation and exploration of sexuality, substance use and adventure activities are within the healthy norms, parents and carers need to be alert to consistent high risk behaviours. In addition, many mental health concerns emerge during this stage of development. Adolescence is characterized by rapid oscillations in mood and emotional flux, which is quite distinct from prolonged and pervasive periods of sadness or low mood, anxiety or panic or distinct behavioural changes. All of which warrant prompt investigation, exploration and intervention.

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