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
  • what you want to do with your life
  • how to look after your money
  • how to become more independent from your family or carers.

Many people develop friendships at school or by meeting people with similar interests. Although your friendship group may change over time, it's okay to have some close friends, know lots of people or be part of a big social group.

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.

Having good friends is important but it's okay if you feel lonely or find it difficult to get on with some people. To help you look out for at what a good friend is and what a good friend isn’t watch this short video about friendship created by Norfolk Safeguarding Board.

If you are looking to meet new friends, or want to learn a new skill or attend a local event with your friend you can. Support groups and services are in place to help increase your independence as you're going into adulthood.

Find local activities near you.

Bad friendships

A friendship should be a positive experience. It should bring you happiness, joy and the feeling of trust. A bad friendship is something that upsets you, makes you sad, lonely or unwell.

If you feel like you need some emotional support if you are feeling lonely you can visit the Moodspark website or find support through the Kooth website.

Additional support

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.

As you grow up, it is normal to feel attracted to both boys and girls.

Some people realise they prefer people of the opposite sex, while others feel they prefer people of the same sex. Some people realise they are gay, lesbian or bisexual at an early age, while others may not know until later in life.

Some young people may also be confused about their sexual identity. You could be asexual, where you're not interested in sex at all, or transgender, where you feel you identify as the opposite gender.

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.
  • Queer – an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual or cisgender.

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
  • Gender queer - when a person is curious or exploring their gender identity.
  • 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.
  • Transsexual – people who experience a gender identity inconsistent or not culturally associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Find support

To find your 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 accepts 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. Both you and your partner should have an equal choice in decision making and nobody should be asked to do anything they don't want to do. Relationships don't have to be sexual, but if you do want to have sex it should be when you both feel ready.

To find relationship support you can visit:

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

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

Get support about bullying.

It is very 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, being asked to perform sexual acts on someone or someone taking inappropriate pictures of you.

You can get support from Domestic abuse in Kent and Medway.

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

Drinking alcohol or using substances could affect the way you behave and the decisions that you make, including sexual activity. You can speak to someone about how drugs and alcohol affect 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:

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.