Yesterday was my daughter’s fourteenth birthday party. She had a fun day celebrating on the beach with her friends and their families. So, in honor of the now fourteen-year-old in our house, today’s post is all about the fourteen year old.
The Gesell Institute describes the fourteen-year-old as “a time of verve, vigor, energy and excitement…Boundless energy combines with optimistic enthusiasm and goodwill to encourage boy or girl to attempt almost anything.”
The plans may outnumber the number of hours in a day, but a fourteen-year-old wants life on the full side. At least, this is how the Gesell Institute describes it. However, I often find this stage can be different than the Gesell Institute describes– many mothers have described this period to me often as a waiting, a patience and a trusting in seeing their child almost in a cocoon where the surface looks more still than what the Gesell Institute describes –> this post describes this in boys, but I have seen this in girls as well. So I think there can be a lot of energy for the things the fourteen-year-old is interested in, it can be a time of blossoming, but I think it can also be a time where the waters look so still and mirroring but underneath the surface things are running deeply. Deeply felt.
Where this most deeply comes out is in relationship to the family. Fourteen-year-olds can be quite critical of their parents, their family. It is very personal, and not just against “the rules” (although it can be that too!) but against the personality traits or appearance of family members. The character flaws of the adults in the house are pointed out, as if the parent and the fourteen-year-old are still so tied together that anything a parent does that is deemed “embarrassing” counts against the teenager. It is common for parents to feel as if they are doing everything for a demanding teen, and receiving no gratitude at all. The Gesell Institute mentions that a teenager of this age is at his or her best with friends. And, most fourteen-year-olds really want to “fit in” with their peers. They also tend to be friendly and outgoing with adults outside of the family, but busy and in a rush to get to the next thing. Fourteen-year-olds, in general, have more humor, more give and take and are more open than thirteen-year-olds.
“Fourteen thrives best on a varied program and most especially enjoys extracurricular activities and clubs – athletic, scientific, dramatic, musical.” I think this is especially important for homeschooling families to consider – many homeschoolers talk about activities for small children or “preteens” but honestly, it is the teenagers who really need connections and activity more than ever to keep homeschooling successful.
Most girls are done growing by the end of this year height-wise and maturity features now approximate more of young adulthood. Very few girls have not menstruated by their fourteenth year. They may be interested in the more complex areas involving reproduction – contraception, and what happens when things don’t work out in carrying a pregnancy to full-term. and even more complex topics. Many boys have an extremely rapid increase in height at fourteen. Boys’ bodies become more heavily muscled, deepening of the voice is more noticeable. Fourteen is an age when many girls are good at taking care of their own personal hygiene, but boys often do not do a good job and need to be reminded to wash with soap and use shampoo. Most fourteen-year-olds have an increased sense of responsibility toward taking care of their clothes and rooms.
Fourteen is not as “edgy” as thirteen. Thirteen may be full of withdrawal and touchiness, but fourteen is full of life and fun. That being said, there is still moodiness, irritability, tiny issues that become huge, and they can go completely out of bounds in trying to overschedule themselves and their social lives. There can be violent anger or very distressed emotions, but these outbursts are generally far apart. They cannot view these outbursts from an adult point of view so they may know they are critical or sarcastic or other things, but really can’t do much about it or see it much past that. Happy moods outnumber the sad moods, but annoyance or moodiness is there. Outbursts against siblings can be rather explosive. There really is no hiding of emotions for most fourteen-year-olds and this most often seems to run to irritability, anger, annoyance. Fourteen year olds are not as vulnerable as a thirteen year old; they can “strike back” over something they perceive as unfair or be nonchalant, or take things as a joke and laugh them off. Fourteen-year-olds can take this new maturity and enjoy competition. They like to compete at this age.
Ames, Ilg and Baker write in their book, “Your Ten-To Fourteen-Year-Old” that, “By now, the most intensely inwardizing work of Thirteen has pretty much been accomplished. The reflective process, the living with oneself, the thinking about oneself which characterizes Thirteen are all a bit like an active hibernation process. Then comes the time when the inner biological clock is turning, and the time for emergence into the sun arrives. And that time in many is fourteen.” They are ready to do something outside of themselves and be absorbed in that. They start to learn how to adapt to the limits of the outside world, and how to make choices. Fourteen is an age where many adolescents feel good about themselves.