Problems during Adolescence
1. Need for Social Status, Acceptance and Security
The desire for social approval and social acceptance is very strong in almost all the teenagers. A corollary to this is the desire for security. When, a person is accepted by his group and is accorded a social status in the home, in the school, in the society, he experiences a great sense of self-confidence and security. It is so basic in the adolescents that they are reflected in many of their school activities. Seeking elections to responsible positions in the school such as-monitors, presidents, secretaries, captains in various extracurricular activities, trying for good grades, attempting to win prizes and records, trying to achieve distinctions in many other fields are only a few indicators of the presence of this strong need in them.
Desire to get affection and love from parents, teachers and other members of the society is another variation of the need for status, acceptance and security. The behaviour of the adolescent is strongly motivated by these needs and related desires. If they are placed in situations which frustrate these needs, they experience a deep sense of insecurity and worthlessness. Loss of love and affection in life, rejection at home and society, experience of being unwanted in the group and uncarved by peers or teachers are situations which pose threat to the status, approval and security of adolescents.
Fear of failure in the examination, fear of losing goods grades and obtaining poor marks, fear of losing the sympathy of teachers, fear of being not liked by classmates are intensely painful as all these grow out of an imagined frustration of the need for status and security. These fears may appear in the form of hostility, aggression, irritability, isolation, vague anxieties, pessimistic feelings, shyness, over-criticalness and many other kinds of emotional behviour. Love and affection are the basis of emotional security, deprivation of which is reflected in many emotional problems of adolescents.
Normal behaviour is impossible when a student feels insecure. Security is the basis of all normal human development. If a student feels that he is not liked by his teachers, he may develop hostile attitude towards them. This may lead him, in the absence of any guidance, to revolting against the teachers, cutting classes, gangsterism and other anti-social behaviours. Those, in turn, may affect his academic progress. He may leave the school and may develop into a delinquent child.
2. Need for Independence
In the early years of life the child is wholly dependent upon the parents and other members of the society. By the time he teachers adolescence stage, his physical, mental and emotional potentialities are well-developed. He is rich in imaginal resources and has gathered sufficient experience of his world. These developments make him think of getting freedom from his parents and other members of the society. He develops a strong desire to be independent and to pattern the course of his life in his own way.
At this stage of development, the students make an attempt to stand on their own feet, to make their own decisions, to plan for their future independently and to run their life themselves. This, however, does not mean that they do not feel the need for support from parents and teachers in their lives. For the emotional satisfaction of their need for love, affection and sympathy, they still need them surely. The adolescents consider themselves to be capable of shouldering responsibility of the world and clamour for adult status to be granted to them by their society. But the society including teachers, considers that they are still immature and need protection, direction and control. These states may develop into serious types of emotional problems if not handled properly.
3. Need for Self-support
Finding a job or preparing for a career is another distressing reality which adolescents have to face. They happen to develop a strong desire to become independent of their parents. Economically now, they want to be self-supporting. Hence, the vocational planning comes to the fore in their minds. The idea first appears in fantasy, then in vague explorations and finally in tentative decisions about specific vocations. In case of some adolescents, vocational aims dominate almost their every thought and action. Uncertainty about getting jobs worries them much.
In some students, it develops a persistent emotional tension. Some of their emotional problems grow out of their inability to clearly see their vocational goals. In big cities adolescents are more conscious of their vocational goals. They constantly see the growing competition in fields of employment. They get frustrated and react to this situation emotionally experiencing some economic insecurity. Depending upon their economic background and home-responsibilities, some adolescents develop worries, anxieties and other kinds of emotional problems which may affect their academic programmes and social adjustments in the long run.
4. Need of Belongingness
At this stage adolescents dependence on their parents is lessened and desire for friendship with their contemporaries becomes more prominent. For their emotional satisfaction they depend more and more on their friends. A desire to love their companions and to be loved by them assumes an importance at this time much more than at any other time of life. To have support and comfort of assured friendships means a great thing for them as, then, they feel secure in their status. A situation of being friendless is a great threat to them. This kind of isolation may develop in them a permanent feeling of social inadequacy. At times, social isolation or rejection may cause them acute suffering. Such social isolating may affect their educational and personal development. The isolates may not be able to participate in their programmes whole-heartedly and may not be able to achieve their capacities. A host of problems of adolescents may have their roots in this threat of friendlessness.
5. Need to Form a Set of Values
One more dimension of world's "reality" to which adolescents come face to face is adherence to codes and morals. Their inter-personal world has widened and, now they have to live not only with their parents but also with their friends of both the sexes, with their teachers, with other members of society, keeping different but harmonious relations with them. With their friends they have to be sympathetic, informal and helping. With their teachers, they have to be courteous and respectful. With other members of society they have to behave properly. Living harmoniously in this heterogenous group requires, on their part, a creat a skill in dealing with people. Proper adjustments to these different segments of interpersonal world call upon them to confirm to certain rules of conduct to the codes of ideals of the society.
On the other hand they have already acquired certain habitual ways of behaving and certain habitual attitude in their homes prior to their reaching this stage. These may not be appropriate in the new inter-personal world. This conflict between the previously learnt attitudes and habitual ways of behaviour and new demands placed on them may create various kinds of emotional problems for them. Failure to learn codes of honesty, observance of law respect to authorities, codes of sex and so on, may pose for them serious problems of adjustments, accompanied by great emotional stress.
6. Need for Adventure
The need to learn new things and to experience fresh adventures is also dominant in adolescents. The need for adventure works as a strong driving force in the life of adolescents. Most of them are very adventurous and they enjoy thrilling activities very much. Most-adolescents, by of them are very nature, have a passion for thrill and new experience. "Variety" in life has great appeal to them. They want to do new things and to see things for themselves. They enjoy visiting new places. But, there are also other ways of satisfying these needs. Some may be fortunate enough to get opportunities of going to places they are interested in. They may have enough resources to have these new and thrilling experiences.
In case of others who are not favourably endowed with socio-economic and cultural resources, there are chances of this need of being frustrated. They, then seek satisfaction of this need in disguised ways. They take to excessive reading of detective and adventurous stories, Excessive visits to cinema, restaurants, recreational spots etc..are also in some cases indicators of the frustration of this need. Adolescent's excessive visit to movie and excessive listening to radio songs provide them with an experience of adventure, thrill and excitement. These satisfy the strong need of them, but have adverse effects on their development, resulting sometime into more severe emotional problems.
7. Need for Hetero-sexual Relations
By the time children reach adolescence stage, they have developed great interest in the opposite sex. Quite a good many of them have revealed their concern about sex-talk, about their sexual development, about acceptance of appropriate sex-role. Growing up sexually causes emotional problems for many young boys and girls.
The basic change that takes place at this stage is the heightened activity of the sex-glands. They develop a great interest in the members of the opposite sex. Innumerable problems are rooted into a desire to seek boy-girl relationship. Boys and girls attracted towards each other. They want to talk to each other. They think and dream of each-other. They develop love for each other. This growing sex-urge may find expression in various ways. Serious emotional problems may arise if their sex-urge is completely suppressed or if they fail to adjust to same-age, opposite-sex relationships. Our society does not permit normal expression of sex. If the parents or teachers are too strict towards sex, they may experience. emotional stress caused by the frustration of their sex-drive. A great many home problems and emotional conflicts arise as a result of parental objections to children's attempt to have hetero-sexual relations. If denied, they may employ other means to satisfy their stimulated desire. The two most common undesirable ways of satisfying this desire are masturbation and homosexuality.
Masturbation is a common practice among adolescents. Excessive indulgence in the activity may be harmful and may present several problems to them. Homosexuality is found to be more prevalent among emotional needs. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with the homosexual behviour. But, because the society considers it to be bad, it becomes a social nuisance consequently. Excessive indulgence in the activity may give rise to emotional stress. Mental conflicts, guilt-feelings, fears, anxieties, phobias etc. may grow out of this stress. A proper understanding of the dynamics of such problems is needed to help adolescents. But if we call their sex impulses wicked or sinful or label sex as dirty or bad, the wholesome growth of them may be retarded.
8. Adjustment to Personal Appearance
Personal appearance forms an important part of the personality of adolescents. They are worried about their personal appearance. If influences their personal and social development. Quite often the social status of adolescents in the group is determined by their personal appearances. A charming face is the centre of affection of the whole group. This makes the child concerned more confident and secure in his status. Attractive physical appearance wins more friends and secures greater social acceptance to some fortunate children. Pleasing face gets more affection and love from the parents, teachers and other members of society. Good personal appearance results in getting more approval of members of opposite sex.
Some are concerned about being under weight or overweight. Some are worried about their poor complexions. In an unimpressive personal appearance, there is a fear of being rejected by the group, a situation which no adolescent can tolerate. But few adolescents are born unimpressive and with certain physical defects. Their colour, complexion and facial expressions are not attractive. Some may accept this reality without reaching to it emotionally. Others fail to do so and react to these aspects emotionally. They develop anxieties about their physical personal appearance. They may resort to excessive attention to make-up and clothes. Or, they may develop feelings of self-rejection.
Film-stars are exerting a great influence on adolescents. Those, who are blessed in looks and who can afford to dress and live like these screen actors try to model their lives after these screen-stars. But those who are not so fortunate undergo emotional stress, which may appear in the form of daydreams, lack of vitality, sense of worthlessness, social withdrawal, many doubts and a sense of failure in life. Sense of physical inferiority, shyness and self-consciousness, obsessional habits, anxieties about self-control, many kinds of fears, emotional immaturities and many other problems of adolescents may be due to these feelings of inadequacy of personal appearance.
9. Student Activism
Students agitations have become common feature of the modern time. It is expressed in so many forms, such as strike, collective walkout, buses put to fire and resorting to so many violent ways. Some form of rebellion against adult authority has been a normal feature today. All adolescents dislike adult interference. Student agitations reflect the conflict between two generations, between old and new. Most of them feel as if they are living in vacuum and helplessness. This gives rise to a feeling of indifference, confusion, purposelessness and creates a sense of being suppressed, oppressed and exploited. Our adolescents have a an unlimited store of energy, vigour and feeling of adventure. But for want of its channelization in useful and purposeful activities this source of energy is directed to all sorts of strikes, demonstrations, and agitations.
Although students activism is most evident at the college and university level, adolescents, are also showing increasing appreciation of group demonstration and protest. Their agitations are a result of great tension and conflict and a sense of aimlessness. They are more idealistic than adults and cannot tolerate injustice and inequality. Though their protests they assert their-power, invite social attention, and urge for new value system.
10. Use of Alcohal and Drugs
Use of Alcohal and Drugs in adolescent is on the increase. Use of alcohal is also associated with other forms of deviancy. Addiction to drugs, however, is a relatively new phenomenon. -Psychologically, use of drugs is the result of feeling of inadequacy, helplessness and alienation. They are used as a way of escape and may lead to depression and paranoid symptoms. Kinds of drugs in use are heroin, amphetamines, barbiturates, marijuana, and LSD. Heroin, as a drug is most damaging and most addictive. It is used as a way of escape. Barbiturates (Sleeping pills) and amphetamines (pep pills) may be used singly or in combination with one another. Marijuana is both notorious and common. Its plant appears to grow any where. It is smoked in the same way as tobacco. Marijuana intensifies the original mood, and makes, the user feel bright and witty. LSD forms the hottest area among drugs. Previously it was prepared with the help of mushrooms which now has given ways to synthetic LSD. The use of LSD increases sensory awareness, hallucinations and a sense of unreality. It is thought that psychosis is characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Super-ego building technique help to overcome drug addiction.
11. Need for a Theory of Life
The need for a theory of life does not. imply always a consciously thought out philosophy. It implies merely at certain integration or balance between the conflicting desires, impulses and ambitions that beset the individual. It implies a certain point of view or attitude towards the self, others, the world and so forth. During adolescence the problems of origin, destiny, conduct, God, begin to engage the adolescent. And so religion becomes a problem. The individual either grows into the religious atmosphere of the family group or else revolts against it. He may emancipate himself successfully or else he may carry the scars of an emotional conflict for the rest of his life. Problems of moral conduct loom large in adolescence. Ideals are potent forces of behaviour. The adolescent selects individuals to imitate, shifting from the parent to the teacher or to some other living or historical personage. All of these questioning in the normal individual lead eventually to a more less well-integrated mature individual. Failure to do so may result in delinquency, insanity or suicide.
12. Adjustment Physical and Physiological Changes
This is one aspect of reality to which adolescents are required to adjust. Rapid changes in shape and size of the body are viewed differently by these adolescents. Sometimes these changes exercise a great influence on emotional development of adolescents. Slow or rapid growth-unevenness of growth may affect their total development. Biological changes may give rise to physical sensation. These, in turn, may cause emotional stress and may manifest into emotional abnormalities. Tall girls may try to hide themselves by becoming "studious", "over-quiet" and "stoop shouldered". Similarly, some lean and thin or fat boys worry whether they will remain skinny or fat. These are common disturbing emotionlized situations which adolescents have to face. Some develop feelings of inferiority. The result is that they try to conceal these detects by becoming over-asserting, mischievous, notorious, leaders of the group showy or otherwise, by becoming shy, withdrawn and reserved.
All these patterns of adjustments are surface symptoms of painful emotional problems. Very much disturbing to some is the "fat period". Girls may become concerned about this period when fat tends to accumulate around their hips and abdomens starts enlarging. A few girls may show extreme concern and shyness over their developed breasts. Most of the boys begin to have nocturnal emissions at an early age. Sometimes, they have erotic dreams of the nature. They think that their dreams and loss of semen will weaken them physically as well as mentally. If this feeling is strengthened, it may lead adolescents to most disturbing emotional problems. In fact, all adolescents undergo such emotional stresses.
Causes for the Problems of Adolescents
Technological changes have made a major impact upon people's lives and work. Industrialization has resulted in social and vocational mobility. It has affected child-rearing practices too. The causes for adolescent problems are studied under the following sub heads:
1. Individual:- Adolescence is preceded by childhood. It is widely acknowledged that maximum development takes place during the first six years of childhood. Children show a tremendous capacity to absorb a lot from their surroundings that consist of their homes, families, peer groups and the general environment, they are exposed-to.
It is important to note that whatever children feel or observe is stored up in their subconscious mind. In addition, memories so accumulated since childhood have a profound impact on the growing up into maturity stage' i.e., Adolescence.
Moral values are assaulted almost everyday by materialism that has crept into our society. Consequently, we lack conviction and the resulting "practice what you preach" attitude of the younger generation towards the older generation has complicated each and every aspect of a child's life.
Adolescence undoubtedly is the most crucial part of our life. For that matter during this phase, a number of changes begin to take place - both physical and behaviouiral. There is doubt and confusion in the minds of teenagers. They are often torn between what they are told by their parents, what they find outside and what they actually want to do. All this has its effect on the family and particularly the parents.
2. Family:- Adolescents are deprived of imbibing the culture and traditional values, which they formerly did through grand parents and felt time with mothers and aunts in the joint family way. The have time, which they spend with their peers.
Parents' Support for Healthy Adolescent Development
While adolescence can be a trying period for both youth and their parents, the home does not have to become a battleground if both parents and young people make special efforts to understand one another. The following guidelines may help parents:
- Give your children your undivided attention when they want to talk. Don't read, watch television or busy yourself with other tasks.
- Listen calmly and concentrate on hearing and understanding your children's point of view.
- Speak to your children as courteously and pleasantly as you would to a stranger. Your tone of voice can set the tone of a conversation.
- Understand your children's feelings, even if you don't always approve of their behavior. Try not to make judgments. Keep the door open on any subject. Be an "open/approachable" parent.
- Avoid humiliating your children and laughing at what may seem to you to be naive or foolish questions and statements.
- Encourage your children to "test" new ideas in conversation by not judging their ideas and opinions, but instead by listening and then offering your own views as plainly and honestly as possible. Love and mutual respect can coexist with differing points of view.
- Help your children build self-confidence by encouraging their participation in activities of their choice (not yours).
- Make an effort to comment your children frequently and appropriately. Too often, we take the good things for granted and focus on the bad, but everyone needs to be appreciated.
- Encourage your children to participate in family decision-making and to work out family concerns together with you. Understand that your children need to challenge your opinions and your ways of doing things to achieve the separation from you that's essential for their own adult identity.
Suggestions for adolescents
- Avoid looking at your parents as the enemy. Chances are that they love you and have your best interests in mind, even if you don't necessarily agree with their way of showing that.
- Try to understand that your parents are human beings, with their own insecurities, needs and feelings.
- Listen to your parents with an open mind, and try to see situations from their point of view.
- Share your feelings with your parents so that they can understand you better.
- Live up to your responsibilities at home and in school so that your parents will be more inclined to grant you the kind of independence you want and need.
- Bolster your criticisms of family, school and government with suggestions for practical improvements.
- Be as courteous and considerate to your own parents as you would be to the parents of your friends.