Youth autonomy increases in adolescence graphic

Autonomy, relatedness, and competence in adolescence

As youth go through adolescence, autonomy increases. Joint decision-making tends to peak in middle adolescence, and individual decision-making rises sharply between 15-17 years and becomes more prominent in late adolescence. Timing for increased autonomy is critical. For example, increased decision-making during mid-adolescence can lead to less depression in late adolescence.

Youth in early adolescence are highly dependent on parental relationships. Peer and romantic relationships gain importance as youth get older. However, there is limited evidence about how these relationships change through adolescence and into adulthood.

Competence generally increases with age, but perceived competence can decrease as young people tackle new or challenging tasks, or become less confident in their abilities.