14-Year-Old Child Development Milestones

Fourteen can be a pivotal age. There are exciting times and many challenges facing 14-year-olds as they start heading down the path toward becoming a healthy responsible adult. At this age, they are starting high school, developing their unique identity, gaining independence, and likely exploring (or thinking about) romantic relationships.

It's an important time to ensure you're giving your child plenty of supportive guidance and helping them gain the skills they need for a successful future.

14 year old child development milestones
Illustration by Emily Roberts, Verywell

Physical Development

Most 14-year-olds have hit puberty by age 14. Both boys and girls tend to have pubic and underarm hair by this point.

Most females have started their menstrual periods and have experienced breast development. Boys have experienced enlargement of the testicles and penis enlargement. Some of them may experience nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) for the first time.

Their changing bodies can be a source of pride or a cause for concern. Some teens may be proud of their adult-like bodies while others may be embarrassed or confused by the changes they are experiencing.

Boys who hit puberty later may be more likely to feel bad about themselves. They may experience body image issues as they are likely to compare themselves to their peers. Girls may experience body image issues as well, whether they begin puberty early or late. It’s common for them to be concerned about their weight and appearance.

Key Milestones

  • Changes in appearance occur at different rates which can be cause for great concern
  • Exhibit a wide range of sexual maturity between genders and within gender groups
  • May grow several inches in several months followed by a period of very slow growth

Parenting Tip

Your 14-year-old may be hungry almost all the time. Stock the house with healthy snacks and serve nutritious meals. Reduce body image issues by focusing on health, rather than weight and appearance.

Emotional Development

Fourteen-year-old teens often start to grow convinced they know everything. So don't be surprised if your teen wants to argue with you about everything or if they insist you have no idea what you're talking about.

Most teens experience great fluctuations in their self-esteem. They may feel good about themselves one day and feel extremely inadequate the next. Although mood swings can still be common at age 14, they are usually less intense than in the past. Many 14-year-olds become more easy-going as they mature.

They have usually developed the skills they need to deal with uncomfortable emotions, like embarrassment and anger, in healthy ways. They may rely on their own strategies, like journaling or listening to music, or they may turn to their friends for support.

It’s normal for 14-year-olds to be embarrassed by their parents. They may not want to be seen being dropped off by their parents at a dance or sporting event. Or, they may insist their parents embarrass them when they meet friends.

Key Milestones

  • Generally happy and easy-going, but may also struggle with mood swings
  • Is embarrassed by parents
  • Recognizes own strengths and weaknesses

Parenting Tip

It's likely your 14-year-old will insist your rules are too strict or that you expect too much from them. Make it clear that they have some control over their privileges. Assign chores and expect them to do their school work. Make their privileges contingent on getting things done.

Social Development

It's normal for 14-year-olds to stop confiding in their parents. Instead, they're more likely to turn to their friends and seek advice from their peers. For many families, increased independence means a major shift in the parent/child relationship.

Fourteen-year-olds want to be accepted by their high school peers. Individuality is often not as important as being part of the group. So, your teen may get anxious if they don't feel like they fit in. It could take a toll on their self-confidence and they may be at risk of seeking support from unhealthy people if they don't find a healthy place to belong.

Many 14-year-olds develop an interest in forming romantic relationships. They may have crushes or they may consider themselves in a relationship.

Key Milestones

  • Anxious to be liked
  • Has a large social circle including friends of both sexes
  • Strong interest in romantic relationships

Parenting Tip

Show an interest in your teen’s activities. Ask questions that go beyond “yes” or “no” to open the door to more in-depth conversations. Rather than ask, “How was your day?” ask “What was the best part of your day?” and inquire about your teen’s opinions and interests.

Cognitive Development

Most 14-year-olds find justice and equality to be important issues. They are ready for long-term experiences and their interests are less fleeting. They often want to explore the world beyond their own community, and are interested in learning what exists beyond their school, hometown, or country.

Speech & Language

Your 14-year-old may seem less communicative at times. But this can be part of normal development as your teen begins solving problems and dealing with emotions on their own.

Your teen may prefer to stay in electronic communication with friends. Texting and social media are often very important at this age.

Most 14-year-olds make their preferences known. They often have favorite movies, TV shows, music, and books. Depending on how much they read, they can have extensive vocabularies.

Play

Play to a 14-year-old might include anything from playing video games to watching sporting events with friends. They are likely to enjoy making plans with their friends and they may spend time together working on goal-oriented projects with their friends.

Key Milestones

  • Focuses on the future develops
  • May challenge the assumptions and solutions presented by adults
  • Starts to set personal goals

Parenting Tip

Respect your teen’s opinions even when you don’t agree with them. Show interest in learning more about what has shaped their ideas and why they have certain beliefs. Teens often just want to know that someone is listening to them.

Other Milestones

Many 14-year-olds show a strong interest in earning money but they’re usually not able to obtain formal employment. You might assist your teen in finding odd jobs that help him earn some spending money, such as mowing lawns or babysitting.

By age 14, teens should be able to perform all of the basic chores you do around the house. You might consider paying your teen to do the jobs you might pay someone else to do, like mow the lawn or wash the car. Paying your teen can be a good way to start teaching your teen valuable life lessons about money.

When to Be Concerned

All teens develop at slightly different rates. So while some 14-year-olds will look and act more like adults, others may still be quite child-like. Usually, there’s no cause for concern as kids will all catch up to one another in the near future.

If however, you are concerned about your teen’s immaturity, it’s important to talk to your child’s physician.  A physician can rule out any physical or mental health issues and may refer your child to a specialist if necessary.

Eating disorders can develop during the teen years as well. Keep an eye on your teen’s eating habits. Skipping meals, purging, and crash diets are red flags that could signal your teen needs professional help.

A Word From Verywell

Age 14 is a great time to make sure your teen has the skills they need to become an adult. Get purposeful about teaching them life skills and give them opportunities to practice those skills on their own.

Keep in mind that raising a 14-year-old can be a little tumultuous at times and sometimes, you might feel like you’ve taken one step forward and two steps backward in terms of your teen’s progress. But, overall, your teen should be showing they can handle greater responsibility as they approach age 15.

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13 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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