Developmental milestones are of great significance to parents, because with no first-hand knowledge to depend on, these are the only ways new parents can ensure their child is on track for her age. Parents often focus on tracking developmental milestones for babies and small children, but adolescents have several significant milestones as well. It’s important to be aware of these at all ages, to ensure a happy and healthy child. Although missing a few milestones usually isn’t cause for concern, tracking them will help identify potential anomalies early enough for successful intervention. Following are some important developmental milestones for adolescent girls.
Why Adolescence is Especially Important for Girls
Adolescence, from about the ages of 10 to 19, is a critical period for everyone, but especially for young women. During the transition from child to young women, girls experience a major increase in the rate of growth and change, second only to changes experienced in infancy. The growth and development that marks this stage of life is largely biological, but also includes social and cultural transitions. Adolescence is a period of incredible growth and potential, but also a risky time during which social pressures can apply a powerful influence.
Social and Emotional Development
Common adolescent social and emotional developmental milestones include an increased concern about body image, an increased interest in appearance and dress, self-absorbed behavior and reduced affection for caregivers. Adolescent girls are often moody or rude, suffer anxiety over schoolwork, experiment with risky behaviors and adult roles, and reject adult ideas and values. These are all normal ways for your adolescent to behave, unless any particular aspect begins to disrupt your daughter’s life or your family harmony in a significant manner.
As children transition to adulthood, they are able to think more abstractly, better express themselves and their feelings verbally, and develop a stronger sense of right and wrong. Many validated testing instruments are available to track your daughter’s cognitive development, but most experts recommend not worrying about it too much unless a serious problem develops at school.
Again, this is a time of rapid growth and physical development. Girls grow in both height and weight, and acne may appear as oil glands become more active. Girls begin to grow body hair, develop breasts and experience the onset of menses.
This developmental milestone is a big deal to parents and daughters alike. Adolescent girls are concerned about their body’s development, and as they begin to experiment with their sexuality, they become prone to great fluctuations in self-esteem. Relationships with parents begin to change as girls spend more time with friends and boys, and stress their need to establish independence.
What You Can Do
Talk with your daughter about the changes she’s experiencing. Provide accurate information and help her sort out feelings about the changes she’s going through. When you do this, you empower your daughter to take control of her life and the decisions she makes. Adolescents may feel a lot of pressure to act like they know everything, when in fact, they are completely lost. Firm but gentle guidance and open communication is important in order to facilitate a good relationship between parent and child through this transition.
Many factors can influence or delay the achievement of developmental milestones, including mental and emotional illnesses. If you believe your daughter may be developmentally delayed, it is important to seek professional advice and treatment. Havenwood Academy provides residential treatment programs designed to address a wide variety of challenges for girls and young women. Contact them today to discuss what developmental milestones mean to your family.