What Ages Are Considered Pre-teens, Early Teens, And Late Teens?

Teenage years or adolescence are considered ages of transition from childhood to adulthood. This stage has 3 phases – pre-teens, early teens, and late teens. To know what stage you are in, there are physical, sexual, social, cognitive, and emotional features to watch out for. 

While this transition can be strange to you, it should be less of a worry if your parents or guardians are there to help you. 

In this article, I will be explaining the various stages of being a teenager, what to expect and how parents can better groom their kids into adulthood.

What Are the Stages of Teenage Development?

There are 3 major stages associated with teenage or adolescent development:

  • Pre-teens (10 to 13 years)
  • Early teens (14 to 17 years)
  • Late teens (18 to 21 years and beyond)


This is the onset or introductory phase of your transition as a teenager. You will experience physical growth and increased sexual awareness. At this stage, hair will begin to grow in pubic areas and armpits for every gender.

Girls experience breast development while boys experience testes enlargement. Menstruation may also start at the age of 12.

These initial developments play a huge role in arousing the curiosity of teenagers. They start to get very concerned about what people think about them and can develop an all-or-nothing mentality.

Pre-teens also anticipate when they will be free from their families and may push boundaries when they feel their privacy is threatened.

Early teens

The early teen or middle adolescence stage presents a growth spurt and cracking voice in males. For girls, the menstrual period is a must at this stage.

Both genders will also experience increased interest in sexual desires and will try to explore them by any means necessary. This often results in trying out certain acts like masturbation to ascertain their sexual identity. 

Psychologically, these teens begin to develop the capacity to advance from an all-or-nothing mentality to bits of abstract thoughts. These thoughts are, however, fueled by emotions and can result in arguments with their parents.

They get to ask questions like:

  • I am doing well in math already. What harm will a night of seeing a movie instead of studying do to me?
  • If my girlfriend is on pills, do I have to wear a condom?

Early teens also place serious emphasis on their appearance and get more involved in how they look compared to their peers. In fact, peer pressure is always at its peak in this stage.

Late teens or young adulthood

At this stage, all signs of physical development must have manifested. How eminent they become is mostly related to inherited genes. In other words, you can be very tall or extremely hairy.

Late teen is a stage concerned more with cognitive development. At this stage, young adults can control their thoughts. The serious level of independence they enjoy will push them into planning their futures and seeking stability in terms of friendships and relationships.

Teens at this stage see their parents as less authoritative figures because they now know how life works as well. This does not mean they won’t listen to their parents anymore. Just that advice coming from parents at this stage is not enforced.

How to Help Children Navigate Teen Years 

Kids need their parents most during their teen years. This is because it is a crucial stage to their future, and the impact they have on others and society at large. 

I have shown you the various dynamics and what to look out for in each stage. Let me help you with the various ways you can help your child transition smoothly:

1. Maintain direct and positive communication always

Before teens begin experiencing any change, parents should prepare their minds. Enlighten your children about puberty and explain the various changes it induces.

Reassure them that the physical and cognitive changes associated with this stage are completely normal because you experienced them too. Let them know you will be fully available for questions. 

Your early conversations should also focus on important topics such as sex, sexuality, safety, sexually transmitted infections, contraceptives, and how to maintain a healthy relationship with everyone amidst adolescence.

This conversation will build a foundation for further discussions whenever they get confused. It will also help point out their strengths and flaws positively.

2. Set reasonable limits

Beyond discussing adolescence with your kids beforehand, it is also important to be supportive and set clear (reasonable) limits for what you expect. As a parent, rules guiding curfew hours, media use, and engagement in school engagements should be communicated clearly.

These limits may, however, start to shrink the more your kid begins to take on responsibilities. At this stage, you can afford them more independence and try to balance engagements. This is one of the best ways to not end up raising a drug addict or a depressed kid.

3. Constantly remind them of risky behaviors

Discussing risky behaviors such as sexual activities or drug use before the onset of adolescence is great but not enough. 

The moment they start experiencing different physical and cognitive changes is another time to constantly remind them of the consequences of any risky behaviors.

This will help them rehearse decision-making in their minds and know what to do when such situations arise. 

4. Study their uniqueness

Every kid has at least one unique characteristic. This affects how they reason and handle situations. Study your kids to know the best way to communicate with them as they progress from pre-teens, early teens, or late teens into adulthood.


Is 12 a teenager?

12 can’t be considered a full teenage year. Instead, they are classified as pre-teens

Teenage ends at what age?

Teenage ends at 20. At this age, you are considered an adult.

Are teenagers kids?

Teenagers can be called kids once they are not up to 20. Legally, 18 years is when you stop being a child.


Adolescence can be a mixture of exciting and challenging for both parents and children. The best way to smoothly navigate your years as pre-teens, early teens, and late teens is with the help of your parent.

As parents, you should also not be too busy to acknowledge the changes your teens are experiencing. I hope you found this article helpful.

Perhaps you would like to learn more about the various deviant labels that can occur during teenage years, please see what is tertiary deviance.

Thanks for reading.