Coronavirus (COVID-19) Visitor Policy & Advisory: Adventist HealthCare is taking appropriate steps to protect the safety of our patients, caregivers and community. Learn More
Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Healthy Living > Health Library > How Adolescent Thinking Develops
Adolescents typically think in concrete ways. This means that they have difficulty with abstract and symbolic concepts. Their thinking tends to be focused on the present. They are just starting to be able to gather information from experience, analyze information, and make critical decisions about future choices and consequences.
This stage of thinking should be taken into account when you are counseling adolescents. For example, when you are talking about smoking, it may be more effective to point out short-term consequences like bad breath or loss of athletic ability than long-term consequences such as cancer.
Age 11 to 14 years tends to be a self-centered period. Many adolescents are preoccupied with their own desires and needs and can be insensitive to others. Because they are so self-centered, they seem to believe other people are watching them. As a result, some teens may feel as if they are constantly "on stage" and are being judged by an imaginary audience. A teen who is affected by this imaginary audience may be self-conscious and concerned about appearance. For example, some teens may comb their hair endlessly, change their clothes often, and constantly look in the mirror to see how they look to others.
It is normal for adolescents to have a sense of being uniquely invincible, to have an "it will never happen to me" mind-set. This way of thinking may limit their ability to assess situations, risks, and future consequences. As a result, they may engage in risky behaviors and test authority.
Early adolescents gradually become more sophisticated in their thinking. Adolescents are also starting to recognize that issues are complex and that information can be interpreted in different ways. They learn flexibility, complex reasoning, inductive and deductive reasoning, sensitivity toward others, and problem solving. The ability to see other points of view sometimes can be unsettling for adolescents who may then question issues that they accepted at face value in the past. This can make some adolescents feel insecure or adrift. In times of stress, teens may revert to concrete, simplistic thinking.
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Susan C. Kim, MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineJohn Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.