Adolescence is a sensitive time frame for those between the ages of 13-19. It’s a time of significant change which manifests itself both physically, emotionally and physiologically. Unfortunately the world today has made it seem as though all aAdolescents are prone to rebel, experiment with drugs/sex, disobey their parents, disrespect authority, run away from home etc. In this article I want to tear this image you’ve probably been shown. Let’s start by understanding the term ‘aAdolescence’ properly. According to the APA, it is; “The transition from being a child, dependent upon one’s parents, to an independent and self-reliant adult, that is, the adolescent transition, represents one of the most dynamic, broad and influential periods of human development.”
Now let’s decode this phase and understand it authentically. Adolescence can be sub-categorized into three;
- Early (Ages 10-14): Both genders go through physical changes;
- In boys; their voice becomes deeper, facial, underarm and pubic hair grows, shoulders broaden, muscles grow, height increases as well as sweat production, male anatomy also enlarges and acne appears on the face.
- In girls; their underarm and pubic hair grows, breasts enlarge, significant weight gain which is normal, the waist becomes narrower while the hips become rounder, height increases as well as sweat production and acne appears on the face.
They also think critically but not deeply enough about the future, they show sexual interest and experience puberty through which the above changes take place.
- Middle (Ages 15-17): By now puberty is usually complete, both genders begin to think more abstractly, search for a sense of identity, possess more existential questions, voice their opinions about morality and deeper topics as well asand strive for independence.
- Late (Ages 18-24): At this point, the physical changes have slowed down but mental development has increased. Adolescents are more emotionally stable, thoughtful and patient. They have a strong sense of identity and belongingness paired with a vision for the future which they aim to work towards.
As you can see, the one permanent factor throughout these stages is – change. The Adolescent is constantly changing and progressing until they reach adulthood. You can think of it as a plane ride; you have to transit at different places but it’s not for long. Then once again you’re up in the air until you arrive at your final destination and just like any joyous trip you don’t want it to end but it has to (i.e the years of youth).
One major area that aAdolescents’ face dramatic changes in is the psychological and cognitive facet, so let’s delve into this area. According to Professor B. Bradford Brown of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a leading Educational Psychologist who is well-versed in Adolescent to peer relations stated, that there are “primary psychosocial tasks adolescents must accomplish.”
- “to stand out—to develop an identity and pursue autonomy,
- to fit in—to find comfortable affiliations and gain acceptance from peers,
- to measure up—to develop competence and find ways to achieve, and
- to take hold—to make commitments to particular goals, activities, and beliefs.”
The pPsychology of aAdolescence is vital in shaping the aAdolescent. They are the future and so parents/teachers/caregivers need to be well-informed about the challenges this phase brings. The four key tasks map out the thoughts and concerns of the aAdolescent. Hence a knowledgeable teacher who recognizes her student is acting out by skipping class or missing homework will realize that there’s a deeper underlying issue at hand here. It’s not that this student is bad and unintelligent but perhaps there’s something more. The teacher should handle the student in an empathetic yet professional manner by trying to meet their needs or direct them to someone who can (i.e Counselor, Therapist etc.).
In short, aAdolescence is a challenging time. There’s so much happening within and around the aAdolescent which explains their mood swings, hormonal outbursts and temperamental nature. Let’s strive to make this time in their life a lot easier and support them with all our heart so that they can lead the next generation with positivity and strength.
World Health Organization, (n.d). Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health. Adolescent Development.
National Health Service, (2018). Stages of Puberty; What happens to Boys & Girls,
Author Unknown, (n.d). Adolescence: What is Adolescence. Talking to Teens. Mental Health in Adolescence.
Quas. J. A, (2014). Adolescence: A Unique Period of Challenge and Opportunity for Positive Development.
Gentry. J. H, Campbell. M, (2002). Developing Adolescents: A Reference for Professionals.
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, (n.d). Adolescent Development, Overview.
Institute of Medicine (US) and National Research Council (US) Committee on the Science of Adolescence. The Science of Adolescent Risk-Taking: Workshop Report. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011. 4, The Psychology of Adolescence. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53420/