In the study of child development, adolescence refers to the second decade of the life span, roughly from ages 10 to 20. The word adolescence is Latin in origin, derived from the verb adolescere, which means "to grow into adulthood." In all societies, adolescence is a time of growing up, of moving from the immaturity of childhood into the maturity of adulthood.
There is no single event or boundary line that denotes the end of childhood or the beginning of adolescence. Rather, experts think of the passage from childhood into and through adolescence as composed of a set of transitions that unfold gradually and that ...view middle of the document...
Our children are changing
Adolescence is one of the most outwardly dramatic times of development and change in our child’s life, second only to the changes that occur from conception to around age two. There’s one important difference between the changes in our child’s early years and the changes in adolescence though – this time our child is a fully aware spectator to his or her own developmental process. Our kids are actually watching and experiencing what is happening to their ‘self’ and have to try to come to terms with it. Here are some of the main changes to be aware of, and what they mean to you and to your child (Coulson, 2013).
It’s no surprise that the physical changes that our teens undergo are a big deal in their lives. Physical maturation can sometimes influence the degree to which our kids experience bumps in adolescence. Starting to mature earlier or later than peers can cause social awkwardness. And puberty, in general, can create some discomfort in relationships between parents and children.
Growth spurts, over- or under-developed body parts, girls having their first period, boys developing facial hair, and the enormous hormonal turbulence all have an impact on us and our children. Add to this, our kids worry about measuring up to an impossible physical ideal perpetuated by the media. They worry about being overweight, underweight, too hairy, not hairy enough, and so on (Coulson, 2013).
Our children’s brains are developing constantly, but important new areas of development begin to grow really fast from around the age of 12 years (although they won’t finish their development spurt until around age 23). These developments mean that by around age 15-16, most teens can use logic and reason (and abstraction) at an adult level. However, the part of the brain responsible for forward planning and thinking about the future requires more development. This partially explains why so many teens make poor decisions in relation to alcohol use, risk-taking, sexual experimentation and drug use. They understand the logic behind why something should or should not be done, but their ability to think through the consequences for their own lives seems limited. The cognitive changes our children experience can create some challenging bumps in the lives of teens and their parents (Coulson, 2013).
During adolescence, our children start to develop a sense of who they really are. Psychologists have called this an ‘identity crisis’ (it’s not a bad crisis – although it can create a lot of discomfort). Teens have to determine who they want to be, their life philosophy and morality, their temperament, the way they will display their gender, their sexuality, their politics, their social stances, a career identity, and so on. As part of all of this, there is often conflict for our teenager as she struggles to develop accordingly. As your teenager discovers him or herself, there can be lots of...