Adolescence is one of the most important phases of life. Here, the human body undergoes the great changes that lead to the appearance of the features of adulthood , both physically and mentally.

However, adolescence is not a single stage in which all changes occur at the same pace. That is why it is possible to distinguish different stages of adolescence , which set the pace of the maturation process.

The different phases of adolescence

There are different criteria for when one stage of adolescence ends and another begins. In fact, there are no entirely objective and definitive criteria for establishing these temporal boundaries , nor can there be; it all depends on what parameters we look at.

However, that does not mean that there is not a certain consensus about what these phases are. Below you can see them explained and described.

1. Pre-adolescence

Pre-adolescence ranges from 8 to 11 years old , and consists of the stage in which the transition between childhood and adolescence takes place. Therefore, there is some ambiguity about whether this phase belongs to childhood or adolescence. What is certain is that in most cases, pre-adolescence coincides with the beginning of puberty.

Physical changes

The physical changes that occur at this stage are remarkable and affect many parts of the body. For example, it is at this point that the bones start to grow rapidly and unevenly , which can make it a little more difficult to coordinate movements (a feeling of clumsiness appears) and that there is slight discomfort in some joints .

Psychological changes

In this stage of adolescence there is great progress in the capacity to think in abstract terms . This is why one is more capable of reflecting on hypothetical situations or on logical and mathematical operations. However, normally when leaving this phase one does not have total mastery in these areas.

Similarly, there is a tendency to try to fit in with gender roles, so as not to get out of the stereotypes related to the appearance and differentiated behaviour of men and women .

2. Early adolescence

Early adolescence occurs between the ages of 11 and 15 , and in it the main sudden hormonal changes occur, to the point that when leaving this phase the body is very different from what it was during pre-adolescence.

Physical changes

Early adolescence is the phase in which the greatest changes in the voice occur . Similarly, the muscles and sexual organs develop until they have a much more adult appearance . Having larger muscles means that you need to eat more and sleep for longer.

Similarly, in many cases acne begins to appear on the face , due to an increased secretion of oily substance in the skin.

Psychological changes

In early adolescence, the ability to think in abstract terms is achieved, although this only occurs if this skill has been practiced and a good education has been enjoyed.

In the same way, gregariousness occupies a very important role both when relating to others and seeking references outside the family, and when building one’s own self-esteem and self-concept. During this period, the author experiments with different elements that can make up an identity, such as the aesthetics related to urban tribes .

Similarly, the opinion others have of oneself tends to be highly valued. Image and aesthetics are seen as a major component of one’s identity and well-being.

3. Late adolescence

This is the third and last stage of adolescence, and occurs approximately between the ages of 15 and 19, according to the World Health Organization .

Physical changes

People who are in this phase tend to show more homogeneity in their characteristics than those who are in early adolescence, because the vast majority have already gone through the most abrupt changes. This has led some researchers to conclude that this phase is not substantially different from adulthood, and that it is only a social construct that exists in certain cultures and not in others. However, it should be borne in mind that the psychological impact of social constructs is entirely real and can therefore influence the maturation process, as we shall see.

During late adolescence, the child usually reaches the maximum height marked by his or her own growth, and the body’s complexion becomes totally adult . On the other hand, the apparent disproportions that could occur in the first phase of adolescence disappear, giving a much more cohesive appearance to the dimensions of arms, legs, etc. On the other hand, the body also gains muscle mass and the propensity to accumulate fat remains more or less stable or is even reduced a little, although the adoption of better eating habits also plays a role in this.

Psychological changes

At this stage social awareness is completed and a lot of time starts to be spent thinking about situations and processes that are not limited to what can be seen, heard and touched in the immediate environment. This is a renunciation of the egocentrism typical of the previous stages, although it does not disappear completely.

Long-term plans come to occupy a much more important role than before , and the image that is given, although still relevant, begins to cease to be one of the main pillars of one’s identity. A good part of the egocentrism that defined childhood and the rest of the stages of adolescence is abandoned, which makes it more likely that these young people will become interested in politics and social processes in general, since their objectives become more related to what is beyond their social circles.

Although the importance of aesthetics often declines, in some cases the aesthetics are still so important that in some cases you can develop an Auditory Behavioural Disorder.