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Adolescence is a period that begins with the puberty, approximately at the age of 12, and ends with the early adulthood, in the 18th. This period is probably one of the hardest in people’s lives since that is when children face a significant stage of development, gain the identity and relative independence, and enter the adult life.
One of the most noticeable changes for children who enter their adolescence period is that they become more emotional, their mood changes too quickly, even to themselves (Raising Children Network, & the Centre for Adolescent Health, 2015). Because of all of those ups and downs the risk of misunderstandings and conflicts is always high. Additionally, teens are not used to the whole range of emotions that people experience, which is why it is not easy for them to understand adults. It happens that they can misread the mimicry or gestures. The second significant change is that teens are self-conscious at that age (Raising Children Network, & the Centre for Adolescent Health, 2015).
They begin to notice and evaluate their own appearance, as well as changes in it. They also might compare their bodies and facial features with those of their peers. As the consequence, many complexes can appear. Finally, in addition to all of this, teens take the first steps in decision-making, usually through trial and error.
Social changes are closely connected with emotional ones. Because of incipient self-esteem, teens are searching for the identity – they want to find out “where they fit in the world” (Raising Children Network, & the Centre for Adolescent Health, 2015, par. 4). They also try to gain some independence and find more experiences on their own. That usually involves many risks, which is why children at this age are not so good at decision-making. Steinberg (2005) even describes them as “poor decision-makers” because of the high rates of alcohol abuse, drug use, unsafe sex, etc. (p. 72). In addition, the priorities in communication and relationships change. Teens become less close to their parents spending more time with their friends.
As Miriam Kaufman states, “People spend their childhood learning to be like their parents, and their adolescence learning who they are and how they are different from their parents” (Raising Children Network, & the Centre for Adolescent Health, 2015, par. 3). Finally, during their adolescence, teens start relatively serious relations with the opposite sex, and the first dates occur.
The Risks of Adolescence and Development Lines of Behavior
Pulkkinen, Kaprio, and Rose (2006) examine the socioemotional behavior of teens starting with eight years and ending with twenty. They assume that the roots of socioemotional behavior in adolescence lie in childhood and its consequences affect adulthood. The authors divide teens into four types: A, B, C, and D.
Type A is Reveller. It starts with the low-controlled behavior at the age of eight and continues in adolescence with various unsupervised activities. Teens who belong to this type usually gather, try alcohol and cigarettes, have early sexual relations. They become unpredictable and even aggressive, have a lot of serious conflicts with their parents. All of this, according to the study, results in “the style of life labeled Reveller” after a person turns 20 (Pulkkinen et al., 2006, p. 41).
Another common outcome is the Type C, called Loner. It starts with the child’s desire to stay at home instead of going out, even during his or her free time when other children tend to play with each other. Later, contacts with peers become more and more rare. A person deliberately refrains from pleasures in adolescence. As a result, he or she becomes a classic Loner with few friends. Besides, an individual of this type is very dependent on parents.
There is also the type D, Loser. It can be characterized by anxiety in early childhood. Such teens are too afraid of making their own decisions and mistakes, as well as growing old at all. However, instead of dependence on parents or aggressiveness they develop negativism and can hardly be open to contacts with the outside world. They are often unpopular among the peers, and because of that, they rarely participate in school and extracurricular activities (Horn, 2006). They criticize everything, including themselves, which finally results in being a Loser in adulthood with few friends, low self-confidence and the lack of plans for the future.
Finally, the last but not the least type is B, Achiever. It starts with “socially skilled behavior in childhood” and continues with high levels of responsibility in adolescence (Pulkkinen et al., 2006, p. 41). Such teens are social, optimistic, open to new contacts, not afraid of making mistakes on the way. They often participate in extracurricular activities and are successful in studies. After twenty, these people remain successful and have all the chances to achieve what they want.
What Should Parents Do?
With this in mind, many people can conclude the following. Since only one type out of four mentioned above is successful in the future, and the rest of them have many negative consequences, it is hard to raise a child successfully. Nevertheless, that is not entirely correct. First of all, even types A, C, and D can become successful changing their attitudes to life. Second of all, Raising Children Network with the Centre for Adolescent Health (2015) state that according to the statistics, only 5-15% of teens get through too difficult emotional experience, have serious conflicts with their parents, become aggressive and rebellious.
The rest of them do have problems in adolescence but finally overcome those. To help teens get over this difficult period, parents should take every measure. First, it is imperative to understand every aspect of socioemotional development. Additionally, parents should carefully listen to their children’s feelings, be an example in decision-making and relationships, get to know their friends, and so on. The most important thing is not to put pressure on the child because otherwise he or she would probably just step back.
To conclude, adolescence indeed is a challenging period of life, which is characterized by active emotional and social development. It can affect the whole individual’s life making him or her a Loner, a Loser, a Reveler, or an Achiever. However, it is possible to get over this stage of life without any serious consequences, and parents should help their children to do it.
Horn, S. S. (2006). Group status, group bias, and adolescents’ reasoning about the treatment of others in school contexts. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30(3), 208-218. Web.
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Pulkkinen, L., Kaprio, J., & Rose, R. J. (2006). Socioemotional Development and Health from Adolescence to Adulthood. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Web.
Raising Children Network, & the Centre for Adolescent Health. (2015). Social and emotional changes in adolescence. Web.
Steinberg, L. (2005). Cognitive and affective development in adolescence. TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 9(2), 69-74. Web.