Meaning of Development of Adolescence | Characteristics

Adolescence is the period which begins with puberty and ends with the general recession of growth. It emerges from childhood and merges into adulthood

Development of Adolescence

Adolescence is the period which begins with puberty and ends with the general recession of growth. It emerges from childhood and merges into adulthood. This is also known as the "teenage period". This is the period of transition from childhood to maturity. This is the period of 'puberty growth spurt' as regards physical development is concerned. It is markedly a period of growing up, during which the child develops into a man or woman. Its onset and termination are both gradual. The rapid growth of the body brings about moodiness, irritability, emotional tensions, and restlessness.

Development of Adolescence

During this period bodily growth in general is slowing down. but at the same time the maturation of the sex function is taking place. In this stage endocrine glands function. The primary function is to develop the mental and physical growth of the individual. Their secondary function, that of reproduction, appears at the onset of puberty. Though the dawn of the reproductive function is quickened in some cases and delayed in others. The difference is due to race, sex, climate, individual constitution etc. Puberty occurs among boys between 13 and 18 and among girls between 12 and 16.

1. Physical Development

As regards the physical development there are marked phases of growth. For males this means the developing of the voice, the growth of the beard, and the ability to produce semen. For females this means the development of breasts, changes in the uterine and general pelvic areas and menstruation. Usually for boys the range is 12-17 while for girls it is 11-16. This stage is responsible for the growth of boys in manhood and the girls into womanhood. There is a noticeable growth in size and weight. Boy's height grow upto 22 and that of girls upto 20.

Further, there are also different types of development in the organs owing to sex differences viz., the growth of body hair, particularly in pubic and under-arm areas, changes in the contours of the face and body, and the eruption of new teeth. The head and brain have their maximum growth during childhood. The weight of brain at 8 is same as that at adulthood. Sex instinct becomes very active in both boys and girls and influence emotional and intellectual activities.

The age of puberty is related to the standard of living and good health. In countries where the standard of living is rising the age of puberty is falling.

2. Emotional Development

Every thing in the world is strange and puzzling to the adolescent. The psycho-somatic conditions of the person are disturbed and he is found to be emotionally unstable. He is irritated and moody. Feelings are always very tender and overwhelming. They fluctuate very often and swing from elation to despair very rapidly. The adolescent is very touchy and sensitive. He becomes introvert and moves in the inner world. He is generally in the thinking mood. Sometimes he is over confident and sometimes much depressed. He is highly critical His moodiness, nervousness, instability of behaviour, temper tantruma, aggressiveness and hostility may be due to some persisting emotional problems. Emotional make-up of adolescents is empathy, that is, the ability to enter into values and understand the feelings and attitudes of others.

Further adolescent is characterised by a feeling of weakness and humiliation. Parents and adults have unsympathetic attitude towards him. He denies the company of both the adults and children. If he bahaves like an adult, people call him snobbish (vulgar person). Sometimes he suffers more from a rejection from adults rather than any weakness of his own. He is either intensely excited or deeply depressed. He finds the world a difficult place and runs to a place of fantasy and dream. When curiosities are not satisfied he becomes frustrated, introvert and beings to take interest in his own bodily and mental self or withdraws himself from the situation. Thus the difficulty of sex problem arises and leads to any of these sexual behaviour such as auto-erotic self, homosexuality or heterosexuality.

3. Social Development

During adolescence the shift of interest from the family to the world outside is continued. The adolescent is, now, preparing to be the man of world. He relations with his parents undergo a definite change. But he is also very keen to confirm to the demands of his peers. Actions and opinion of his parents become now a matter of criticism for him. He does not submit to them uncritically rather defies their authority and flouts their opinion. He challenges their views and beliefs.

Secondly, religious feelings become more important for his. Him own age group offers him greater opportunities for his state his recognition and his esteem. Now, he is more inclined to accept the leadership of the persons. outside family such as teachers, learned persons, film stars, players etc. In other words this is an age of hero-worship' which my result in frustration or loss of contact with reality or disillusionment. He may have day-dreams. Heterosexual relationship become truly attractive. Fleming love-affairs occur.

4. Intellectual Development

As to the intellectual development there is great intellectual awakening, but it does not show the same positive acceleration found in physical traits in this period. Development in intelligence is assessed mainly by formal tests of intellectual growth. However, like other aspects of growth, it reaches the final stage late in adolescence. Children of inferior mental ability achieve their ultimate mental maturity at an earlier age than those of advanced intellectual capacity.

Adolescents engage in a larger and more complex range of activities. Curiosity is at its height. The adolescents may develop a special aptitude for music or language. He may develop mechanical aptitude. He may begin composing poems. He begins to appreciate literature. His vocabulary. widens. He enjoys debates and discussions and dramas etc. The adolescent has a desire or responsibility. He also has a tendency to be irresponsible. He is impatient for the results and is very enthusiastic.

Characteristics of Adolescence

Adolescence has certain characteristics that distinguish it from the period that preceded it and that follows it. Following are some of the characteristics of Adolescents:

1. Fast growth and structural changes in the body:- The individual desires to be free and independent of all authority. Due to the sudden changes in body and other features like change in voice, changes in body proportions, secondary sex characteristics, and expectorant, they feel inadequate at the beginning. They desire to be like adults and therefore, imitate the behaviour of adults.

2. Development of new attitude towards oneself and others:- Adolescents develop new attitudes towards themselves and others. Parents too expect adolescents to behave more responsibly and adopt adult ways of behaviour. Adolescents express their dislike towards the established rules and regulations in the society, and trongly defend their views and opinions. Some adolescents show lea lership traits during this period.

3. Rising awareness of one's rights and duties:- Adolescents become aware of their rights and duties. They also become conscious about social approval. Due to sexual maturity, many physical changes take place in the body and this leads to changes in the personality of the individual. The ideas, thinking and personality traits admired before seem to the Adolescent as childish and undesirable. A new set of values and norms emerge and they are confused. They establish new relationships with others, find new friends and may break away from old friendships. They are always eager to better their abilities (competency).

4. Adolescence is a transitional period:- Transition does not mean a break with or a change from what has gone before but rather a passage from one stage of development to another. The physical changes that take place during the early years of. Adolescence affect the individual's behavioral level and lead to re-evaluations and a shifting adjustment of values. During any transitional period, the individual's status is vague and there is confusion about the roles the individual is expected to play.

5. Confusing and dual standards:- Adolescence is not an easy stage by any standards. The Adolescent struggles between dependency and independence. They are caught between what their parents expect from them and what they want. They are confused about what they really want to do and be. Society on the whole does not make things easy.

6. Admiring qualities of peers from the opposite sex:- The Adolescents admire certain traits in peers of opposite sex. Boys are admired by girls for traits like frankness, protectiveness pleasing personality, neatness and good sense of humour. Boys admire girls or qualities like pleasant appearance, intelligence, friendly mannerism and kindness. Boys are late in sexual maturity by about a year than the girls of the same age. Therefore, generally girls are attracted to boys who are older than they are.

7. Adolescence is a period of change:- The rate of change in attitudes and behaviour during Adolescence parallels to the rate of physical change. There are almost five universal concomitants of the changes that occur during Adolescence.

  1. First, is heightened emotionality: its intensity depends on the rate at which the physical and psychological changes take place.
  2. Second, the rapid changes that accompany sexual maturing make young Adolescents unsure of themselves, their capacities and interests, leading to strong feelings of instability, which are often intensified by the ambiguous treatment they receive from parents and teachers.
  3. Third, changes in their bodies, their interests and in the roles the social group expects them to play, create new problems which may seem more numerous and less easily solved than any they have had to face before. Until they have solved their problems to their satisfaction, they will be preoccupied with them and with themselves."
  4. Fourth, as values change, what was important to them as children seems less important.
  5. Fifth, most Adolescents are ambivalent about changes. While they want and demand independence, they often dread the responsibilities that go with independence and question their ability to cope with these responsibilities.

8. Adolescence is an age with problems:- Adolescence is especially difficult or boys and girls to cope with, for two reasons. First, throughout childhood, their problems were met and solved in part at least by parents and teachers resulting in many Adolescents being inexperienced in coping with problems alone. Second, because Adolescents feel that they are independent, they demand the right of coping with their own independence, they demand the right of coping with their own problems, regulating the attempts of parents and teachers to help them. Their inability to cope with problems, results in their finding that the solutions do not always come up to their expectations.

9. Adolescence is a time of search for identity:- Conformity to group standards is more important than individuality in the early years of Adolescence. Gradually they begin to crave identity and are no longer satisfied to be like their peers. However, the ambiguous status of the Adolescent in today's world presents a dilemma that greatly contributes to the Adolescent "Identity Crisis" or the problem of ego identity. As E.H. Erickson has explained, "The identity an Adolescent seeks to clarify is who he is, what his role in society is to be. Is he a child or is he an adult? Overall, will he be a success or a failure? Adolescents' hope to attract attention to them and to be recognized as individuals while, at the same time, maintaining their identity with the peer group.

10. Adolescence is a dreaded age:- Acceptance of the cultural stereotype of teenagers as sloppy, unreliable individuals who are inclined toward destructiveness and antisocial behaviour has influenced the self-concepts and attitudes of Adolescents toward themselves, making the transition into adulthood difficult. It leads to much friction with their parents and places a barrier between them and their parents, which prevents them from turning to their parents for help in solving their problems.

11. Adolescence is a time of unrealism:- Adolescents have a tendency to look life through rose-tinted glasses: seeing themselves and others, they would like them to be rather than as they are. This is true of Adolescent aspirations which are unrealistic and responsible for the heightened emotionality. As Adolescence draws to a close feeling that period of life is happier than what they will face in adulthood, with its demands and responsibilities, it creates a tendency to glamorize Adolescence.

12. Adolescence is the threshold of Adulthood:- As Adolescent approach legal maturity, they are anxious to shed the stereotype of teenagers and to create the impression that they are near-adults. Apart from dressing and acting like adults, they begin to concentrate on behaviour that is associated with the adult status-smoking, drinking, using drugs, indulging in sex, etc., which they believe will create the image they desire.

13. Physical Changes during Adolescence:- There are individual, differences in physical changes. As physical changes slow down, the awkwardness of puberty and Adolescence generally disappear. They are motivated to use their newly acquired strength, which further helps them to overcome any awkwardness that appeared earlier.

Few Adolescents experience body-cathexis or satisfaction with their bodies. However, they do experience more dissatisfaction, with some body parts than with other parts. This failure to experience body-cathexis is one of the causes of unfavorable self-concepts and lack of self-esteem during the Adolescent years. Adolescents realize that people treat those who are more attractive more favourably than those who are less attractive.

14. Adolescence a developmental transition:- "Adolescence is a developmental transition between childhood and adulthood. In India, the Adolescent is a person whose individuality has not yet been sufficiently recognized."

When Adolescents become seniors at school, they are usually recognized by their parents as nearly grown ups and on the verge of entering the adult world of work, of going to college or of receiving vocational training of some kind. Their status in school likewise makes them conscious of the responsibilities they have never before been expected to assume as they take their place as "seniors" in school: Awareness of this new and formally recognized status, both at home and in school, motivates most Adolescents to behave in a more mature manner.

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