Typical student behavior

Timeline of typical student behavior ages 5-10, 11-13, & 14-18

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Typical student behavior age 5-10

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(5) Takes charge of bathroom responsibilities

Can not be left alone

Investigates everything

Consequences must be clear

(6) Know it all

Focuses on rules and often tattles to show they know what the rules are

May not finish meals/table manners are not present


(7) Complains quite often

Begins to care what others think of them

Discipline should involve firm kindness

(8) Demands attention

May be overly sensitive

Girls usually play with girls/boys play with boys

Struggle with emotions - cry when upset or stomach ache when nervous

(9) Constant awkwardness

Friends become important

May begin to rebel - seeking independence

(10) Generally will obey rules

Begins to argue

Believes that rules are flexible

Demands that friends keep promises

Need to understand safe ways to rebel

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Typical student behavior age 11-13

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  • Expected behavior:
  • Begins to develop personal values

  • Learns to make appropriate decisions to resolve conflicts arising from the influence of peers

  • Define themselves through environment, friends, clothes, culture, TV, etc.

  • Develop the understanding that there are consequences to their actions

  • Learn to analyze risk factors

  • Shows empathy

  • Learns to handle emotions such as fear, frustration and rejection

  • Learns to express individual ideas in appropriate ways

  • Begins to accept personal responsibility

  • Develops leadership skills

  • Develops persistence

  • Examines rules to make sure the rules are fair

  • Identify themselves with a peer group

  • Learn to accept and value other points of view

  • Communicate with peers through a variety of methods

  • Set personal goals 
    • Engaging in strong, intense interests, often short lived    

    • Preferring interactions with their peers   
    • Preferring active to passive learning

    • All the big changes the brain is experiencing may explain why adolescence is the time when many mental disorders—such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders—emerge

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Typical student behavior age 14-18

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  • Based on brain development at this age, expected behaviors might include:
    • Acting on impulse  

    • Misreading or misinterpreting social cues and emotions

    • Getting into accidents of all kinds  
    • Getting involved in fights 
    • Engaging in dangerous or risky behavior

  • Poor planning and judgment (such as rarely thinking of negative consequences)

  • Expected Behaviors:
  • Complaints that parents interfere with independence

  • Tendency to return to childish behavior, particularly when stressed

  • Intellectual interests expand and gain in importance    

    • Display shyness, blushing, and modesty  
    • Girls develop physically sooner than boys 
    • Increased interest in sex; this can be with the opposite, the same sex, or either  
    • Concerns regarding physical and sexual attractiveness to others
    • Frequently changing relationships 
    • Worries about being normal

  • Adolescents and teens are less likely to:
    • Think before they act    

    • Pause to consider the consequences of their actions  
    • Change their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors

These differences don't mean that young people can't make good decisions or tell the difference between right and wrong. It also doesn't mean that they shouldn't be held responsible for their actions. However, an awareness of these differences can help parents, teachers, advocates, and policy makers understand, anticipate, and manage the behavior of adolescents. 

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