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Adolescent Children

  • By: Tracy R. Nichols
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Adolescence is a developmental period within the human life span that separates childhood from adulthood. It is marked by multiple transitions such as the onset of puberty and its corresponding rapid developmental growth, cognitive gains, transitions in schooling, shifts in familial and social relationships, and increasing autonomy and choice. Adolescence is typically considered to begin when a child reaches age 13; however, many biological, social, and psychological changes have already begun in the preadolescent years.

Puberty refers to the physical changes that occur as a child's body becomes capable of reproduction. Pubertal changes include rapid physical growth; redistribution and/or increases in body fat and muscle tissues; acquiring secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts and pubic hair; menarche (for girls); and spermarche (for boys). Other changes that ...

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