The period when an individual can no longer be referred to as a child and neither can the individual be referred to as an adult although, adult features begins to develop in such individual was termed “Adolescence” by G. Stanley Hall in 1904. Universally, adolescence is better defined as ‘a period of transition’.  A phase between childhood and adulthood. It marks the graduation from childhood into an adulthood preparation phase. This phase is further classified into three stages and each stages possess unique attributes.

Early adolescence: ages 10- 14 years

Middle Adolescence: ages 15- 17 years

Late adolescence: ages 18- <20 years

In this period of transition (Adolescence) diverse changes occurs more noticeably, the physical changes are occurring at an accelerated rate, but the adolescence period is not just marked by physical changes they also experience cognitive, social/emotional and interpersonal changes as well.They develop: Physically (puberty);Socially (interaction with others);Mentally (cognitive development) and Morally (good or bad, idealism, volunteerism etc.).

Factors That Influences Growth and Development in Adolescent

As the growth and development of adolescent progresses, there are other factor that influences their growth and development such as:

1. Parents,

2. Peers,

3. Community,

4. Culture,

5. Religion,

6. School,

7. World events and

8. The Media.

A good understanding of what to expect at the different stages can promote healthy development throughout adolescence and early adulthood. Hence a need for adolescents to be aware of this changes and for parents to gain proper understanding into some of the changes that occurs at such stage so as not to be unrealistic in their expectations from them since the obvious signs can make them to be perceived as an adult. Knowledge of what can influence the growth and development: either positively or negatively can help parents to modify, utilize and deliberately take actions to turn such channel of influences to a tool for the proper development of such adolescent.


It is the biological transitional state between childhood and adulthood. The pubertal changes occur as a result of a surge in the production of sex hormones which triggers the development of secondary sexual characteristics and the achievement of reproductive capacity. An adolescent should not panic when such changes begins to occur. It is basically the expression of the biological changes which are genetically determined and it is largely associated with the adolescent phase of human development.It begins averagely for both sexes between 8 and 14 years.80% of the individual’s physical growth occurs (growth spurt) at this stage of development. The growth spurt begins earlier in females than in males. The time of expression of these changes may also differ from person to person but in case of prolonged delay such individual should consult the health care provider to be sure of his/her state of health.

Ages of pubertal events in male and female

Onset of puberty: Male between ages 9-14 years, Female: ages 8-10;

Growth spurt: Male (14), Female (12);

Menarche: Male (Not Applicable), Female (11-13);

Spermache: Males (10-16), Female (Not Applicable).

Other pubertal changes that occurs are:

Increase in size of various organs including sex organs.

Body patterning occurs

Blood pressure increases to adult levels

Heart rate slows to adult levels

Haemoglobin – higher in males due to androgen, lower in females due to menstruation

Increase in weight and muscle mass

Body achieves sexual capacity

Voice deepens (males)

Skin glands become more active and can lead to acne

Sweat glands develop

Growth of axillary and pubic hair

Mood swings

Attraction to opposite sex

Increase in sexual awareness


The adolescence phase constitutes one of the most rapid growth and development phases of human development. Although the order of the changes at this phase appears to be universally the same but it is worthy of note that the timing and the speed of these changes vary among and within individuals. Both the characteristics of an individual (e.g. sex) and external factors (e.g. inadequate nutrition, an abusive environment) contributes to these changes.

Parents should seek to gain sufficient understanding of the various changes (physical, social, psychological, emotional, cognitive changes etc.) that occurs at this phase of human development, this will give them proper insight into the reason why individuals at this age group act the way they do and they will be rational in their expectation, standards and demands from them.

They are not children; yet they cannot be referred to as an adult. They may even perceive themselves as an adult as a result of the pubertal changes yet,it is simply a transition phase which requires guidance instead of the dictatorship that works effectively in childhood.

Patton GC, Viner R.Pubertal transitions in health Lancet 2007;369:1130-39.

Sawyer SM, Afi fi RA , Bearinger LH, e Blakemore S, Dick B, Ezeh AC, Patton GC. Adolescence: a foundation for future health. Lancet 2012; 379: 1630–40. Published Online April 25, 2012. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60072-5

McNeely C, Blanchard J. The Teen Years Explained A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development. Centre for Adolescent Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 2009

Fatusi AO, Hindin MJ. Adolescents and youths in developing countries: Health and development issues in context. Journal of Adolescence (2010): 1 – 10

UNICEF. Progress for children. A report card on adolescents. 2012


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