Normal Development: 12 to 14 Years Old

Each child is unique. While some behavior and growth milestones tend to happen at certain ages, a wide range for each age is normal. It is okay if your child reaches some milestones earlier and others later than the average. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, check with your healthcare provider. Here’s what you might see your child doing between 12 and 14 years of age.


  • May be moody.
  • Struggles with sense of identity.
  • Is sensitive and has a need for privacy.
  • Worries and feels stressed by school and friends.
  • May have strong opinions and challenge family rules and values.
  • May try to “show-off.”


  • Becomes more self-sufficient.
  • Usually seeks out friends with beliefs and values similar to those of his or her family.
  • May think about appearance all the time
  • Starts to look outside of family for love and relationships.
  • Influenced by peers about clothes and interests.
  • May be influenced by peers to try risky behaviors (alcohol, tobacco, sex).


  • Mostly judges based on concrete rules of right and wrong, good or bad.
  • Thinks in terms of the present rather than the future.
  • May start to figure out problems with less direction from adults and think about complex issues.


  • May have growth spurt (girls usually develop 2 years earlier than boys).
    • Girls: changes in fat distribution, pubic hair, breast development; start of menstrual period
    • Boys: testicular growth, voice changes, pubic hair, night-time erections (“wet dreams”)
  • May experiment with private body parts (masturbation).
Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-09-25
Last reviewed: 2013-09-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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