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Becoming a teen

Puberty is a time of big changes - in your body, mind and life in general. Here's our survival guide to becoming a teen!

We've gathered together helpful info to get you through the good and not-so-good bits

This page will cover:

Primary school me hates naps, while high school me naps all the time

Love having lots of info you can save and refer back to? Check out the Mikki vs the World Viewer's Guide!

Body and brain changes

Body changes that occur in puberty

  • Growth spurts. Different parts of your body might grow bigger at different times.

  • Body shape changes. This can include the development of 'secondary sexual characteristics', e.g. hips or shoulders getting wider, growing breasts. (Some people struggle with body image as a result.)

  • Sleep changes. You might find you fall asleep late and love to sleep in.

  • Body hair. You will start to grow hair on different parts of your body, e.g. pubic hair, armpit hair, facial hair.

  • Hormonal changes. You may start menstruating, or produce hormones like testosterone that make external genitals grow.

  • Appetite and energy changes. You might start feeling hungrier and find your energy levels go up and down.

Becoming a teenager brings with it a lot of emotional changes. It's really normal to experience emotions like grief over leaving childhood behind or anxiety over new expectations, responsibilities and becoming an adult. Also, approximately 50% of all mental health issues appear by age 15, which means things like anxiety and depression are really common in teens.

Brain changes

Puberty doesn’t just trigger physical changes; it triggers mental and emotional changes as well. The teen brain is hard at work developing, and helping you go from being a kid to an adult. In fact, your brain doesn't fully finish developing until you are 25! Here are some ways things are changing for you:

Romantic and intimate relationships – There’s a lot happening here! Hormones are being released, and your body takes a long time to get used to these. You also might start dating, which can be a huge learning experience.

Identity – This is about who you are and how you fit into the world. You might compare yourself to others, start to question your gender identity or sexuality, explore your spirituality, or try new and different things to help figure out who you are.

Meaningful relationships – When you’re a child, your parents and siblings are the most important people in your life. As a teen, you start forming your own ‘community’, with different friendship groups and partners. This also means you are pushing boundaries, discovering your limits and developing your sense of independence.

Problem-solving and decision-making skills –In your early teens, you make most of your decisions with your amygdala (a part of your brain that plays an important role in emotions), which is part of the reason why teens take more risks. But, as you get older, your prefrontal cortex is developing and you slowly start making less emotional decisions and more intellectual decisions.


Navigating friends and family

When you go through puberty, it starts a chain of events to help you go from being a child to an adult. This isn’t just a change your body goes through – it also changes your interpersonal relationships with your family and friends.

Some of the changes you might be experiencing in your brain as a teenager include:

  • You want more independence and start to push boundaries – This doesn’t just help you learn more about standing on your own two feet, it also helps your parents to gradually ‘let go’ and accept you growing up. Unfortunately, it can cause a lot of conflict. (But one positive is that this can help you learn to communicate more effectively and negotiate, which are important life skills).
  • Your family becomes less important and your friends become more important – When you’re an adult you leave your family and form your own family or ‘community’ with people you aren’t related to, like friends and partners.
  • You become really focused on fitting in – This is why we also start to deal with things like feeling self-conscious about how you look (fear of being judged), or experiencing peer pressure, as you try and figure out who you are in relation to everyone else.
  • You become interested in romantic and intimate relationships – You might experience crushes, or even start dating or go through your first break up.
  • You start using social media (or use it more and more) – This can make relationships even more complex and even affect your identity, so make sure your socials are good for your mental health!

Interesting fact: Adolescence is the time the brain is best at socialising! Teens have more empathy and pick up on more social queues than children or adults do (in general).

Ok, so you have your first crush. Butterflies in your stomach? Check! Think about them all the time? Check! Want them to like you? Check! But did you know not all crushes are the same? Check out this Mikki vs the World video to figure out what type of crush you have!

Life changes

Starting high school

Leaving primary school behind and starting high school can be a time that's both exciting and stressful.

Here's some stuff that can help:

  • Be kind to yourself
  • Remember that everyone in your year group is in the same situation as you – you aren't alone
  • Know that things will get easier with time and practise
  • Get organised, as it can help prevent/reduce stress
  • Focus on what makes you feel excited/happy about high school
  • Be nice to everyone, as it's the best way to make friends
  • Ask lots of questions – it can help you to learn faster

If you need help setting up a good study routine, these handy study tips can help!

"I know I said before that I'm excited to make new friends [in high school]... but it's scary making new friends."

-Tee, Year 6 student

Ever wondered what other teens think?

Other teens are going through the same stuff you are

We asked, "What's something you learned about yourself becoming a teen?" You answered...
We are all unique in our own ways
The importance of time management
Just wait for your moment, it's coming
Spending time in nature is good for me

Need some extra help?

Kids Helpline is available for any reason.

We get that being a teen can be really hard at times! If you need a second opinion, want to talk things through or are stuck and don't know what to do, give us a call, start a WebChat or send us an email today.

This content was last reviewed 24/05/2021

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