Becoming an adult

A group of teenagers hugging each other and holding balloons having fun

Being a teenager and becoming an adult is an exciting time. You'll start to learn:

  • who you are
  • what's important to you
  • who your friends are
  • new life skills
  • how to drive
  • what you want to do with your life
  • how to look after your money
  • how to become more independent from your family or carers.

Don't worry, it is normal to experience a variety of feelings as we grow older. This could depend on relationships, friendships, school, college or life in general. Emotions can be positive and negative and they're all valid.

For more support visit the NHS mental wellbeing information hub.

Growing up, some people will become attracted to other people. Sometimes they are attracted to people of the same sex. Sometimes they are attracted to people of the opposite sex. Some people may be attracted to a mix of or all sexes or genders, and some people may experience no attraction at all.

There are also some young people who are confused about their sexual identity. You could be asexual. You're not interested in sex at all. Or, you could be transgender. You identify as the opposite gender.

  • Gender is a person's identity, understanding, and experience. It includes their view of their role in society. It’s their inner sense about who they truly are and how they want to interact with the world.
  • Sex is a person’s biological sex at birth, to do with which reproductive organs they have.

LGBTQ+ meaning

LGBTQ+ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning. These terms are used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity:

  • Lesbian - women who like women.
  • Gay - men who like men.
  • Bisexual - people who like men and women.
  • Transgender - people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Cisgender - those whose gender identity matches that assigned at birth.
  • Queer - a term covering all other sexualities and gender identities.

The plus sign (+) is connected to a range of additional sexualities and gender identities that includes:

  • Asexual – people who have no sexual attraction or romantic attraction to another person.
  • Agender – people who identify as having no gender or being without any gender identity.
  • Gender dysphoria - the feeling of confusion or frustration a person experiences when they feel conflict between their gender and the sex they were assigned at birth
  • Gender fluid - when a person moves between gender identities without ascribing to a specific one
  • Genderqueer - when a person’s gender identity does not meet the typical gender variations.
  • Pansexual - is when there is a sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.
  • Nonbinary - when a person does not ascribe to the traditional gender binary of male or female.

Find support

To find LGBTQ+ support you can visit:

Did you know that there are many famous LGBTQ+ disabled people to aspire to? Find out more about these influential people by visiting:

Be an ally

An ally is someone who supports and proactively tries to make the world a better place. This includes supporting equal civil rights, gender equality and LGBTQ+ social movements and challenges homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.

For parents and friends of young LGBTQ+ people, you can find support by visiting:

Every relationship is different, but it should always be based on honesty and trust. Everybody should be able to make their own decisions and no one should be forced to do anything they don't want to. This is known as giving or not giving consent and this can change. This means consent needs to be consistent and not just given one time. Relationships do not have to be sexual, but if you do want sex, it should be when you're both ready.

To find relationship support you can visit:

Finding new friends

You can meet new friends by joining a new club, starting a new hobby, or taking a new class.

Find local activities near you.

Support for SEND young people

You can also find relationship support for SEND young people by visiting:

  • Paautism - social stories to support what relationships are
  • Scope - how to talk to your friends about your disability
  • Mencap - easy read guide to relationships
  • Friendship circle - providing support for parents.

Many people develop friendships at school or by meeting people with similar interests or hobbies.

Good friendships

A good friend:

  • is kind, caring, helpful and loving
  • shares things
  • is friendly and happy
  • is good at keeping secrets
  • is reliable
  • is there for you
  • is trustworthy
  • is a good listener
  • is loyal
  • can let you tell them anything and they won’t judge you
  • listens, makes you laugh and makes you feel wanted.

Watch this short video that explains what a good friend is and isn't from Norfolk Safeguarding Board.

Bad friendships

A good friend brings happiness, joy, and trust, but a bad friend can make you sad, lonely, or unwell.

If you feel lonely and need emotional support, visit Moodspark. You can also find support through the Kooth.

Bullying is behaviour that hurts someone else. It includes name calling, hitting, and pushing. It also includes spreading rumours, threatening, or making someone feel sad.

It can happen anywhere - at school, at home or online. It can affect you both physically and mentally.

Get support about bullying.

It is important that you are in a safe relationship and no one is trying to harm you or make you do things you don't want to do. This can include being touched without your consent. As well as being asked to perform sexual acts or having inappropriate pictures taken of you.

You can get support from domestic abuse in Kent and Medway or White Ribbon.

Or, you can download one of the below reports, to find out more about domestic abuse in the UK:

Drinking alcohol or using drugs could change how you act and the choices you make.  You can speak to someone about how drugs and alcohol affects you:

Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK. It can increase your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions and can cause long term damage to your health.

Find out how to stop smoking or help to stop a friend smoking.

Body image is how we think and feel about ourselves physically, and how we believe others see us.

There are lots of ways we can think about our body and the way we look. Sometimes you might feel that you like parts of your body, and times you may not. Body image can be about how you:

  • feel about your weight
  • compare yourself to your friends or people you follow on social media
  • how you feel that you are not shown on tv or film
  • may feel sad about your body
  • may feel misunderstood and get frustrated when people make assumptions about why you look a certain way
  • think you are not attractive enough to someone else
  • have maybe a different birthmark, or a scar or acne to others
  • feel that your body does not match your gender.

If you feel that you are comparing your body with things you see every day, you are not alone. Lots of us are influenced by the things around us, which can impact our mental health.

It's important to remember that everyone is unique. If you are struggling, just remember to:

  • be kind to yourself
  • try to stop comparing yourself to images you see on social media
  • follow positive body image influencers
  • focus on the things you like about yourself
  • talk to a friend or a family member
  • talk to a trusted adult.

For more support visit:

Most girls start their periods at about 12. But, they can start as early as 8. So, it's important to talk to girls from an early age to make sure they're ready.

Boys also need to learn about periods. This includes the practicalities and mood changes that can come with them. As well as the biological reason behind periods. It will keep them informed, as well as help them to understand about periods.

Read more about periods and questions that girls might ask you as a parent. Get suggestions on how to answer on the NHS website.

Autistic young people

Autistic young people often need more time to understand and prepare for changes. Especially dealing with the physical and emotional changes of menstruation.

By helping them to understand how to manage their periods, you will give them the skills they need. These skills make them independent, confident, and resilient.

Want to know more? Read this helpful guide. It gives tips and advice from parents, carers, and autistic young people. Created the Parent Carer Voice group. Alongside iThrive and our Participation Team.

Email to contact Parent Carer Voice or to join one of our meetings.