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ACT for Youth

Toolkit: Domains of Development

The resources included in this section focus on specific domains of development. Cognitive Development features adolescent brain development. Under Social and Emotional Development, the focus shifts to the emotional life of adolescents and the challenges involved in regulating emotions. Physical/Sexual Development addresses body changes, puberty, and evolving sexuality. Also see Identity Development.

Cognitive Development

Brain Development in Teenagers

This brief video offers an entertaining look at the changes happening in the adolescent brain. Oxford University.

Video (2 minutes)

Why the Teenage Brain Has an Evolutionary Advantage

This 2017 video updates our understanding of brain development in adolescence.

Video (4 minutes)

Cognitive Development

Here, the general cognitive changes that adolescents experience are described, followed by brief information on unique issues that some young people experience. HHS Office of Adolescent Health.


Sarah-Jayne Blakemore: The Mysterious Workings of the Adolescent Brain

Why do teens behave the way they do? In this talk, cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore discusses recent findings in adolescent brain development, emphasizing the social brain. TED Talk.

Video (14 minutes)

The Teen Brain: Insights from Neuroimaging

Jay Giedd, a leading scientist researching the developing brain, gives a talk about adolescent brains and digital media. Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

Video (34 minutes)

Social and Emotional Development

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Toolkit

The SEL Toolkit offers resources to help youth work professionals provide opportunities for social and emotional learning. Resources include manuals, activities, fact sheets, videos, and websites on the topics of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. ACT for Youth.


Social and Emotional Changes in Adolescence

Written for parents, this article outlines the social and emotional changes that often occur during the adolescent years. Healthy Families BC.


Adolescent Emotional Development

This presentation offers a discussion of adolescent emotional development. The presentation covers: the importance of emotions, what constitutes "emotional development" and emotional intelligence, and the challenges and opportunities of emotional development in adolescence. The differences between younger and older adolescents, girls and boys, and cultural influences on emotional development are also briefly reviewed. ACT for Youth.

Narrated Presentation (16 minutes)

PowerPoint Presentation

Adolescent Mental Health Basics

In this article, the authors discuss the impact of mental health problems in adolescence, common warning signs, and common disorders. HHS Office of Adolescent Health.


Physical/Sexual Development

Understanding Sexual Development

This section of the ACT for Youth website provides an overview of sexual development and presents links between gender and sexual behavior.


Healthy Adolescent Sexual Development

Narrated Presentation: This presentation by Dr. Richard Kreipe discusses basic terminology related to healthy adolescent sexual development; introduces key biological, psychological, and social features of normal adolescent sexual development; and looks at various issues and behaviors in the context of healthy adolescent sexual development. Dr. Kreipe is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. ACT for Youth.

Narrated Presentation (29 minutes)

PowerPoint Presentation

Anatomy of Puberty

In this presentation, Dr. Richard Kreipe helps the listener understand the physical changes of puberty, as well as concerns that adolescents may have as their bodies change. ACT for Youth.

Narrated Presentation (17 minutes)

PowerPoint Presentation

Adolescent Sexual Development

This quick reference provides facts about sexual development in early, middle, and late adolescence, as well as tips for parents and professionals. Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Michigan Department of Community Health.

Fact Sheet

Sexual Behaviors and Health in Adolescence

While sexual development is central to adolescence, sex can be risky if youth do not have the supports they need. This section of the ACT for Youth website covers risks associated with sexual behaviors, STDs, HIV/AIDS, and pregnancy in adolescence.