Adolescence is the phase of transition from being a child to an adult. Just before adulthood, adolescents or teenagers can become perplexing creatures for their parents. It seems that there is no right way to understand them, respond to them or even approach them. Everything that a parent does seems to go wrong. Teenage or adolescence generally extends from 12 to 19 years of age and can be broadly categorized into three stages - early adolescence (12 to 14 years), middle adolescence (14 to 17 years) and late adolescence (17 to 19 years). In this section, we will discuss the various stages of development in adolescence and some ways to understand the complex nature of teens
Development During Adolescence
Adolescent years are not just marked by growth in height, but involve a
whole lot of other physical changes such as development of bones,
muscles, and organs in the teenager. A prominent change is the onset of
puberty, in both males and females. It marks sexual maturation of the
child. While for girls, her first menstruation is the sign of puberty,
for guys it is the appearance of the first few whiskers. Testosterone in
males and estradiol in females play a significant role in pubertal
development. The average age for sexual maturation is 12.5 years for
boys and 10.5 years for girls.
The cognitive development takes a fast pace during the adolescence.
Teenagers accumulate general knowledge and start applying the learned
concepts to new tasks. Interest in learning life skills, such as
cooking, fixing things, driving and so on, from adults at home and else
where is also seen during these years. In terms of school, there is a
great transition for the budding adult. From being in the top-notch
position in the junior school, kids become the youngest, smallest and
least powerful in middle or high school. A sense of ego and personal
uniqueness also creeps in the youngster, who starts thinking that no one
can really understand them.
In terms of social development, there is a constant friction of
adolescent with their parents, siblings and relatives. While parents
fail to give personal space to their young adult, the teenager, on the
other hand, find that his/her parent are too interfering and do not
understand him/her at all. During adolescence, teens spend much of their
time with their friends. Peer pressure is also one of the important
elements during this age. Groups and crowds become more heterogeneous
and heterosexual and dating becomes very important.
Problems and Disorders
Drug and Alcohol Abuse - Lack of love and attention from parents
and bad company are the prime reasons, for teenagers falling into the
grips of drug and alcohol abuse.
Juvenile Behavior - Immature and socially unacceptable behavior
are visible during this age. Right from, acting violently to status
offenses such as running away from home, to criminal acts such as
burglary, is often a part of adolescent and need to be treated.
Adolescent Pregnancy - The need to be loved and to be the center
of attraction is high during this phase of life. In addition to it,
sexual maturation makes the young teen take a wrong step in life.
Depression and Suicide - Adolescents are most susceptible to
suicide and depression. The basic factors that trigger the mental state
of the youngster include high stress, loss of a boyfriend or girlfriend,
poor grades, an unwanted pregnancy, or earlier experiences such as
family instability and unhappiness
Eating Disorders - It is mostly of two types - anorexia nervosa
and bulimia. While in the first case, the teenager pursues thinness
through starvation, the second involves a binge-and-purge sequence.
Coping up with Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is not always bad. Not all teens have similar cultural values and moral systems. Mostly, being with friends only reinforce family values in teens as they learn to form relationships, share and get involved with people their own age and learn to live as an individual and not as a child who depends on his parents for everything.
When kids ask for the permission for dating for the first time and many times after that, it is an emotional challenge for parents. They are worried sick for the safety of their child going out alone with a friend, concerned about the changing times and what kids might do in their absence
The most difficult phase of life is early adolescence. It is a phase when the kid is not yet mature but he is no longer a kid. Peers insist that they have grown enough to be self independent while parents still not provide ample freedom. This is the time when even studies are getting more difficult and physical changes are a constant source of irritation.
Late adolescents finally come quite close to adulthood to have a firm identity and more stable interests. Soon-to-be-adults and already adult kids attain greater emotional stability finally and have a more developed sense of humor. They are able to keep a little patience when there is a delay in gratification of their desires
Middle adolescent is the phase, when a child is on the road of transformation. There are a whole lot of changes that occur, be it, physically, mentally, cognitively or sexually. While most of the girls cross their puberty stage, boys are still on the road of maturing physically.
Peer pressure means being influenced or pushed over by friends to do something that you would not wish to do otherwise. Adolescence is an age when teenagers try to create an identity for themselves. They have a desperate need to belong to a group and thus, often end up becoming a soft target for peer pressure.
The toddler years of your child when his favorite word was ‘No’ and he used to resist everything, rebel and cry to exercise his will seem easier when your children enter puberty. Children usually enter the stages of puberty between the ages of 9 to 16 years old, which is characterized by great physical, hormonal and emotional changes
Tattoos & Piercings
Tattoos and piercing all over the body, other than ear lobes, is a difficult topic for parents to deal with. Teenagers with raging hormones often get swept off by raging trends and neglect the risks and permanence of the designs and that what may seem the ‘in’ thing today may make him look like a ‘weirdo’ in the future.
Teen marriage was not a big issue in the old times. Life expectancy was shorter then and most of our economy was depended on agriculture and farming. People were less educated and large number of children was considered a boon as it meant more hands to work and greater prosperity. But times have changed now.
Rising number of teenage pregnancy is often quoted as an example, to prove that our society is going downhill. Young pregnant teens can be seen passing their time at food joints and hanging out with their friends, while being casual about their unplanned pregnancy.
Teens & Parental Authority
Physical changes, hormonal changes and constantly changing moods and thought processes of a teenaged child can be quite scary. The way teens seem to rebel and try to find faults with everything their parents do such as their values, political thoughts, lifestyle