Adolescent Development: A Reference Guide for Professionals (2023)

Last updated: November 14, 2021 Creation date: January 1, 2002 93 minutes read

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American Psychological Association. (2021, 14. November).Adolescent Development: A Reference Guide for Professionals.

Despite the sometimes widespread negative depictions and the negative attitudes they represent towards young people, the image of young people today is predominantly very positive. Indeed, most youth succeed in school, are attached to their families and their communities, and emerge from their teenage years without experiencing serious problems such as substance abuse or involvement in violence. However, with all the attention paid to negative images of young people, the positive aspects of young people can be overlooked. Professionals can play an important role in changing young people's perceptions for the better. The truth is that despite the occasional or numerous protestations, adolescents need adults and want them to be a part of their lives, recognizing that they can nurture, teach, guide and protect them on the path to adulthood. Channeling the courage and creativity of ordinary youth into healthy pursuits is part of what successful counseling, teaching, or mentoring a youth is all about.

Much has been written in both the lay press and the academic literature about the mental health problems of adolescents - such as depression, suicide and substance abuse - and the serious problems some adolescents suffer from. The purpose ofdevelop adolescentshowever, is not to describe these problems or the therapeutic strategies to address them, but to address them in the context of adolescent development, with an emphasis on avoiding these problems and enhancing positive outcomes even in adverse circumstances. Efforts are being made to move towards a new way of understanding and working with youth in the context of larger systems (Lerner & Galambos, 1998); While working with youth and families is critical, sometimes systemic changes are needed to protect youth health. Also in the heart ofdevelop adolescentsThe theme is that today's adolescent needs something that adults seem to have the least surplus of - time. It takes time to listen to and engage with a young person. In a report by the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers, young people ranked “not having enough time with their parents” as one of their biggest problems. This report also shows that teens whose parents are more involved in their lives (as measured by frequency of regular mealtimes together, a simple measure of parental involvement) are significantly less likely to use "problem behaviors" such as smoking, alcohol, or marijuana, the lie Parents, arguments, initiation of sexual activity, and suicidal thoughts and attempts (U.S. Council of Economic Advisors, 2000).

A cross-cutting issue, regardless of professional role, is the need to communicate effectively with young people. Adolescents will not “open up” to adults just on demand. Effective communication requires that an emotional bond be formed between the professional and the young person, however brief. Professionals must find a way to engage comfortably with youth and be flexible enough to accommodate the wide range of youth they are likely to encounter. And professionals need to recognize that developing effective communication with the youth they work with takes effort on their part. It may take several sessions of impartial listening to build the confidence a particular youth needs to communicate what he or she is thinking and feeling to an adult. It can take even longer for a teen to feel comfortable asking an adult for help with an important decision. Talking to a doctor about birth control options or telling a school psychologist or social worker that you're feeling depressed or sad generally takes both time and trust.

Professionals may find that the strategies they use to provide information and service to adults do not work as well with adolescents. Young people need adults who will listen to them – understand and value their perspective – and then coach or motivate them to use information or services provided in the interest of their own health (Hamburg, 1997). Simply presenting information about the negative consequences of high-risk behaviors is not enough. An understanding of normal adolescent development can help professionals to be effective communicators with young people.

recognize diversity

It is vital that professionals learn about the diverse cultural and ethnic groups they work with in order to provide competent services and have effective one-to-one relationships with young people. The youth population in the United States is becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse, with 37% of youth ages 10 to 19 today being Hispanic or non-white (see table on page 5). This population diversity is expected to increase in the coming decades.

A growing number of households in the United States are made up of people born in other countries. Immigrants come to the United States for a variety of reasons; Some may be fleeing a war-torn country, while others are in the country for further education. They differ in their English proficiency and level of education, as well as in their cultural practices and beliefs. The number of foreign-borns in the United States grew 44% between 1990 and 2000. People born in other countries now make up 10% of the US population, the highest rate since the 1930 census (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002).5 Half of those from other countries are from Latin American countries—all in all approximately 15% of youth ages 10 to 19 are Hispanic or Hispanic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001a).

Unfortunately, many of the youth studies reported in the academic literature have only looked at white, middle-class youth (Lerner & Galambos, 1998; Ohye and Daniel, 1999). Therefore, research is still lacking on most areas of normal development of minority youth; therefore, caution should be exercised in generalizing the more general findings reported here to all adolescents.

organization ofAdolescent Development: A Reference for Professionals

The physical changes that herald adolescence—the development of the breasts and first menses in girls, the deeper voices and broader shoulders in boys—are the most visible and striking hallmarks of this phase. However, these physical changes represent only a fraction of the developmental processes that adolescents go through. Their developing brains bring with them new cognitive abilities that enhance their ability to reason and think abstractly. They evolve emotionally and develop a new sense of who they are and who they want to become. Their social development involves new relationships with peers and adults. And they begin to experiment with new behaviors as they move from childhood to adulthood. Indevelop adolescentswe therefore discuss the development of adolescents in terms of physical, cognitive, emotional, social and behavioral development. Each section provides basic information about what is known about this aspect of youth development and suggests the role professionals can play in supporting youth.

Of course, no youth can really be understood in parts - a youth is a 'package'. Changes in one development area typically lead to changes in other areas or occur in conjunction with them. Furthermore, no adolescent can be fully understood outside of the context of their family, neighborhood, school, workplace, or community, or without considering factors such as gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or chronic illness, and religious beliefs. Therefore, these topics are also addressed throughout.

Adolescent Development: A Reference for Professionalsis not intended to solve all the riddles related to dealing with young people, but to provide scientifically sound and up-to-date information about what is known about today's young people. Hopefully this will make it a little easier and more convenient for professionals to relate to young people in the context of their particular profession.

Adolescent physical development

The onset of puberty heralds the physical changes of adolescence: a growth spurt and sexual maturation. Professionals working with adolescents need to know what is normative and what constitutes early and late physical development in order to prepare the adolescent for the myriad of changes that take place at this time in life. Even in schools where sex education is taught, many girls and boys still feel unprepared for the changes of puberty, suggesting that these important issues are not being addressed in the most useful way for adolescents (Coleman & Hendry, 1999).

puberty and sexual development

Although it sometimes seems that adolescent bodies change overnight, the process of sexual maturation actually occurs over a period of years. The sequence of physical changes is largely predictable, but the age at onset of puberty and the pace at which the changes occur vary widely (Kipke, 1999). There are numerous factors that influence the onset and progression of puberty, including genetic and biological influences, stressful life events, socioeconomic status, diet and nutrition, body fat percentage, and the presence of a chronic illness. The growth spurt, which involves rapid skeletal growth, usually begins around age 10 to 12 in girls and 12 to 14 in boys and is complete by around 17 to 19 years in girls and 20 years in boys (Hofmann & Greydanus , 1997). For most adolescents, sexual maturation involves the attainment of fertility and the physical changes that support fertility. In girls, these changes include breast budding, which can begin around age 10 or earlier, and menstruation, which typically begins around age 12 or 13.9 In boys, the onset of puberty involves an enlargement of the testicles around age 11 or 12 years of age and the first ejaculation, which typically occurs between the ages of 12 and 14. The development of secondary sex characteristics such as body hair and (in boys) voice changes occurs later in puberty.

Many adults may still believe that the magical age of 13 is the right time to start talking about puberty, but for many boys and girls it's years too late. A recent study of 17,000 healthy girls ages 3 to 12 attending pediatric offices found that 6.7% of white girls and 27.2% of African American girls by age 7 were showing some sign of puberty (i.e., breast and/or pubic hair development) (Herman-Giddens et al., 1997; Kaplowitz and Oberfield, 1999). The results of this study suggest that puberty begins about 1 year earlier in white girls and 2 years earlier in African American girls than previously thought. However, studies on non-clinical samples have not yet been completed to confirm that this is the case for girls in general. Relatively little research has examined differences in the course of puberty between different ethnic groups; this is clearly an area that deserves additional attention (Lerner & Galambos, 1998). Professionals working with children and their families can alert parents to the need to prepare their children early for the changes of adolescence. Professionals can also offer helpful advice to parents and other adults on how to talk about puberty with younger teens.

Research suggests that adolescent girls who are unprepared for the physical and emotional changes of puberty may have the greatest difficulties with menstruation (Koff & Rierdan, 1995; Stubbs, Rierdan & Koff, 1989). When 157 ninth grade girls were asked to provide suggestions on how to prepare younger girls for menstruation, they recommended that mothers provide emotional support and reassurance, emphasize the pragmatics of menstrual hygiene, and provide information on how to do it will actually feel, first highlighting their own positive experiences with menstruation (Koff & Rierdan, 1995). The girls also recommended that fathers not comment on their daughters' physical changes and that mothers not discuss these changes with fathers in front of the adolescent, even if they become obvious.

Although research on boys' early experiences of sexual maturation is limited, there is some evidence that boys, too, are more satisfied with the physical changes of adolescence when adults prepare them for them. For example, adolescent boys unprepared for these changes have reported feeling "a little perplexed" when they experience their first semen ejaculations during dreaming or masturbation (Stein & Reiser, 1994). The implication of these findings is that adolescents should be prepared for the changes to come early on, around the age of 9 or 10, so that they are not caught off guard when the changes do occur.

Early or late sexual development

It is important that adults pay particular attention to signs of precocious and late maturing adolescents - particularly precocious girls and late maturing boys - as these adolescents appear to be at increased risk for a range of problems including depression (Graber, Lewinsohn, Seeley & Brooks Gunn, 1997; Perry, 2000). For example, precocious girls have been found to be at higher risk for depression, substance abuse, disruptive behavior, and eating disorders (Ge, Conger, & Elder, 2001; Graber et al., 1997; Striegel-Moore & Cachelin, 1999). Likewise, there is growing evidence that boys whose physical development does not match their peers are at increased risk of problems. It has been found that early adolescent boys are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as sexual activity, smoking or delinquency (Flannery et al., 1993; Harrell, Bangdiwala, Deng, Webb & Bradley, 1998). Although early physical maturation does not appear to pose as many problems for boys as for girls, late maturation appears to put boys at greater risk of depression, conflict with parents, and problems at school (Graber et al., 1997). Due to their smaller stature, late maturing boys may also be at higher risk of being bullied (Pollack & Shuster, 2000).

Adults, including parents, may be unaware of the risks of early maturation for girls and unprepared to help these adolescents cope with the emotional and social demands that may be placed on them (Graber et al., 1997). For example, older boys—and even grown men—may be attracted to precocious girls at a time when girls are not yet socially mature to deal with these advances, putting them at risk for unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (Flannery, Rowe & Gulley, 1993).

Professionals can speak openly with adolescent adolescents and their parents about the likelihood that they may be under peer pressure to engage in activities they are not emotionally ready for, such as B. Dating and sexual activity. Telling them to “just say no” to deal with sexually stressful interpersonal situations in which they are anxious to be liked does not help most teenagers. Instead, professionals can help the young person identify and practice strategies in advance to deal with or avoid these situations.

Parents may need guidance to understand that adolescent autonomy should be linked to the chronological age and social and emotional development of the teenager and not to the level of physical development, whether early, punctual or late. For example, 13-year-olds should be given earlier curfews and more closely monitored than older teenagers, even if they appear much older physically. Likewise, a youth whose physical maturity is lagging behind their peers may still be ready for greater independence.

appearance and body image

Regardless of the timing of the physical changes that take place during adolescence, this is a time when physical appearance in general is of paramount importance. Both girls and boys are known to spend hours worrying about their appearance, particularly to conform to the norms of the group they most identify with. At the same time, they want to have their own unique style, and they may spend hours in the bathroom or in front of the mirror to achieve that goal.

Adults should take teens seriously when they raise concerns about aspects of their appearance, such as acne, glasses, weight, or facial features. For example, if a teen is concerned that they are overweight, it's important to take the time to listen rather than dismiss the comment with the reassurance, "You look good." Perhaps a colleague made a comment about his appearance at a time when he was wondering about the same thing. Adults need to understand the meaning and context of the young person's concern and keep the lines of communication open. Otherwise, the youngster may find it difficult to keep track of the problem (and possible solutions) or may be less likely to raise concerns in the future.

Physical activity and weight

About 14% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 are overweight - almost three times the number in 1980 (USDHHS, 2001). Overweight teens are at higher risk of type II diabetes, high blood lipids and high blood pressure, and have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. In addition, they may suffer from social discrimination, particularly from their peers, which can contribute to depression or low self-esteem. Diseases directly related to physical inactivity, such as obesity and diabetes, have been reported to be more common among youth from minority ethnic groups (Ross, 2000). For example, type II diabetes is particularly prevalent among Native American and Alaskan Native adolescents, and obesity is more common among African American teenage girls than among teenage white girls (Ross, 2000).

Several factors contribute to the increased prevalence of obesity among adolescents. One factor is that physical activity tends to decrease as adolescents age. For example, a 1999 national survey found that more than a third of students in grades 9 to 12 do not regularly engage in vigorous physical activity (USDHHS, 2000). In addition, physical education enrollment drops from 79% in 9th grade to 37% in 12th grade; In fact, part of the decline in activity is due to fewer opportunities to participate in physical education classes and less active time in physical education classes. Finally, many adolescents do not eat a healthy diet: three quarters of adolescents eat less than the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables (MMWR, 2000).

Participation in sport, which has important direct health benefits, is a socially sanctioned area in which youth's physical energies can be positively channeled. Other activities where physical energy can be channeled include dancing, drama, carpentry, cheerleading, hiking, skiing, skateboarding, and part-time jobs that involve physical demands. These activities provide youth with opportunities to exercise, make friends, gain competence and confidence, learn about teamwork, take risks, and build character and self-discipline (Boyd & Yin, 1996).

Despite the significant benefits of sports and other extracurricular activities, many young people do not participate. Barriers to participation in organized sports activities include costs, lack of transportation, competing time commitments, competitive pressures in the sport, and lack of parental permission to participate (Hultsman, 1992). Other barriers can be lack of access to safe facilities such as recreation centers or parks, especially in inner-city or rural areas. Some youth may also have other important commitments, such as working or caring for younger siblings, that prevent them from attending. Adolescents with disabilities or special health needs may have particular difficulties in finding leisure activities that meet their special needs (Hergenroeder, 2002). Professionals should examine each of these barriers to determine how they can be overcome to reduce barriers to participation.

Professionals can help teens and their parents understand the importance of physical activity and good nutrition to stay healthy and suggest healthy options. It is important to consider family resources such as B. the family's ability to pay for organized sports activities, and their cultural background, which can influence their diet, for example.

Disorderly eating

Puberty is naturally associated with weight gain, and many teenagers are unhappy with their changing bodies. In a culture that glorifies being thin, some adolescents - mostly girls - become overly concerned with their physical appearance and begin to obsessively diet in an effort to achieve or maintain a thin figure. A minority of these adolescents eventually develop an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia (Archibald, Graber & Brooks-Gunn, 1999; Striegel-Moore & Cachelin, 1999). The consequences of eating disorders can be very serious and in extreme cases lead to death.

Between 0.5% and 1% of all women ages 12 to 18 in the United States are anorexic and 1% to 3% are bulimic, with perhaps 20% exhibiting less extreme but still unhealthy dieting behaviors (Dounchis, Hayden, Wilfley, 2001). Although boys can also have these eating disorders, the vast majority (over 90%) are female. The symptoms of eating disorders usually first become apparent in early adolescence. Factors that appear to put girls at increased risk for anorexia or bulimia include low self-esteem, poor coping skills, childhood physical or sexual abuse, early sexual maturation, and perfectionism. Daughters of women with eating disorders are particularly at risk of developing an eating disorder themselves (Striegel-Moore & Cachelin, 1999).

Information on the prevalence of eating disorders in different ethnic groups is limited, although there is some evidence suggesting that patterns of eating disorders differ. For example, dieting appears to be most common in Hispanic women and least common in Black women, and binge eating may be more common in Black women (Dounchis et al., 2001). Although anorexia and bulimia appear to be much more common in white girls than in minority ethnic girls, there is also evidence that the prevalence of eating disorders among minority ethnic groups is higher than previously reported. Therefore, it is important that professionals do not assume that only white girls are at risk. Although much more research is needed (particularly in relation to youth from ethnic minorities), some strategies that are believed to protect youth in general from developing an eating disorder or an obsession with weight include:

  • Promoting the acceptance of a wide range of appearances
  • Protect youth from abusive experiences
  • Promoting a positive self-image and body image
  • Educating youth and their families about the adverse consequences of a negative focus on weight
  • Encouraging a positive focus on sources of self-esteem other than physical appearance, such as academic, artistic, or athletic achievement (Striegel-Moore & Cachelin, 1999).

Adolescent cognitive development

The changes in the way adolescents think, reason, and understand can be even more dramatic than their apparent physical changes. From the concrete black-and-white thinkers they appear to be, adolescents will one day, quite suddenly, become able to think abstractly and in shades of gray. They are now able to analyze situations logically in terms of cause and effect, and to consider hypothetical situations and to use symbols imaginatively, for example in metaphors (Piaget, 1950). This overarching thinking enables them to think about the future, evaluate alternatives, and set personal goals (Keating, 1990). Although there are marked individual differences in cognitive development among adolescents, these new skills enable adolescents to engage in the types of introspection and mature decision-making that previously exceeded their cognitive abilities. Cognitive competence includes things like the ability to argue effectively, solve problems, think and reflect abstractly, and plan for the future.

Although few significant differences have been found in the cognitive development of adolescent boys and girls, it appears that adolescent boys and girls differ in their confidence in certain cognitive abilities and skills. Adolescent girls tend to feel more confident than boys in their reading and social skills, and adolescent boys tend to be more confident in their athletic and math skills (Eccles, Barber, Jozefowicz et al., 1999). This is true even though their skills in these areas are roughly equal as a group (there are of course many individual differences within these groups). Conformity with gender stereotypes seems to be responsible for these differences in confidence levels, rather than differences in ability per se (Eccles et al., 1999). Adults can help dispel these myths that can lead teens to limit their choices or opportunities. For example, an adolescent girl might be encouraged to take advanced math or technology courses, and an adolescent boy to consider relationship-based volunteer opportunities like mentoring—options they might not otherwise consider.

Despite their rapidly developing higher-level thinking skills, most adolescents still need adult guidance to develop their potential for rational decision-making. Adolescents prefer to consult with their parents or other trusted adults when making important decisions about things like going to college, looking for a job, or managing finances (Eccles, Midgley, Wigfield et al., 1993 ). Adults can use this openness as an opportunity to model effective decision-making or to guide adolescents as they grapple with difficult decisions.

However, as adolescents develop their cognitive abilities, some of their behaviors can be confusing to the adults who interact with them. However, these traits are normal and should not be taken personally. A later section on emotional development discusses practical strategies for communicating with young people; these strategies will be helpful in nurturing the burgeoning cognitive skills of adolescents.

Just as adults sometimes make bad decisions, so do teenagers. This can be a particular problem when poor choices result in adolescents engaging in risky behaviors such as drinking or violence. Immature youth are particularly likely to choose less responsible options. This maturity of judgment has been shown to be more important than age in predicting whether an adolescent will make more responsible decisions (Fischoff, Crowell, & Kipke, 1999). It is important to understand that discernment maturity may actually decline in the mid-teens before increasing again in young adulthood.

There are a number of ways adults can help teens make better decisions. One is to help them expand their range of options so they can consider multiple choices (Fischoff et al., 1999). Because adolescents who make quick decisions are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, adults can help adolescents carefully consider their options and consider the consequences. Because adolescents can be more influenced by what they think their peers are doing, thereby increasing the social pressure they feel to engage in these activities, it can be helpful to provide them with more accurate objective information when it is available . Adults can help adolescents understand how emotions—both positive and negative—can affect their thinking and behavior. Finally, it is important to understand that adolescents may fear the potential negative social consequences of their choices more than potential health risks. For example, a teenager may fear being ostracized or ridiculed by a social group if he or she refuses to drink alcohol at a party more than the potential negative consequences of drinking. Therefore, it is important for adults to consider and understand the context in which adolescents make decisions about risky behaviors.

Even youth who are very adept or talented in some areas may have weaknesses in others. For example, a teen who has trouble learning math concepts may excel on the basketball court or at learning a foreign language. Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner developed a theory of multiple intelligences, or ways of approaching problems and analyzing information, that expands on the traditional view of capabilities (Gardner, 1993). According to Gardner, these distinct learning pathways—which everyone possesses and has developed to varying degrees—include verbal/linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, scientific, and possibly existential intelligence (i.e., the ability to learn). address fundamental questions of human existence). Traditional approaches to learning have mainly focused on logical-mathematical and verbal/linguistic intelligence. Gardner suggests that the other forms of intelligence are just as important and that teaching and learning is most successful when multiple intelligences are involved. Consequently, adults can help adolescents to develop their multiple intelligences and not just focus on problems or deficits.

Another theory of intelligence that focuses on multiple strengths has been proposed by Yale University psychologist Robert Sternberg, who posits that creativity and practical skills (i.e., common sense) rather than just the analytical skills and memory skills measured by traditional intelligence tests , important are components of intelligence (Sternberg, 1996). It is not necessary to be equally high in each of these areas to be successfully intelligent. Rather, you have to find ways to effectively use every pattern of skills you have. For example, in one of his studies, Sternberg found that when high school students taking a psychology course were placed into sections of the course that more closely matched their particular pattern of analytical, creative, and practical skills, they performed better than students who were less well matched (Sternberg, Ferrari, Clinkenbeard & Grigorenko, 1996). In other words, giving young people the opportunity to learn in a way that emphasizes different types of skills increases their chances of success.

Adults can support the development of skills in young people. Although parents often feel that they have little influence during the teenage years, research has found that feelings of competence in both adolescent boys and girls are directly related to feelings of emotional closeness and parental acceptance (Ohannessian, Lerner, Lerner & Eye, 1998). . Professionals can educate parents about their role in fostering these skills and creating a sense of competence in their children. Parents need to know the impact they have on the lives of their teens. Professionals can directly reinforce young people's growing competences simply by noticing and commenting on them in routine contacts. Even casual comments can mean a lot to a young person, especially one who gets little positive feedback.

moral development

Moral development refers to developing a sense of values ​​and ethical behavior. Adolescent cognitive development lays the groundwork, in part, for moral reasoning, honesty, and prosocial behaviors such as helping, volunteering, or caring for others (Eisenberg, Carlo, Murphy, & Van Court, 1995). Adults can help foster the moral development of adolescents by modeling altruistic and caring behaviors toward others and by helping adolescents use other people's perspectives in conversations. For example, an adult might ask the youth, “How would you feel if you were _____?” Educators and other adults can ensure that issues of fairness and morality are identified and discussed sensitively and in a positive atmosphere where Young people are encouraged to express themselves, ask questions, clarify their values ​​and evaluate their arguments (Eisenberg, Carlo, Murphy & Van Court, 1995; Santilli & Hudson, 1992). This atmosphere should reinforce the concept that racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism and prejudice against people with disabilities are inherently destructive to both individuals and society.

Community volunteering is an important positive avenue for youth that can help foster their moral development. Volunteering not only helps foster a sense of purpose and importance and promotes moral development, but is also associated with a number of positive long-term outcomes. For example, a national study of girls from 25 schools found that those who volunteered in their communities were significantly less likely to become pregnant or fail in school than girls who did not volunteer (Allen, Philliber, Herrling, & Kuperminc, 1997). . Professionals can help youth understand the value of volunteering and guide them to valuable volunteer experiences.

learning disabilities

Learning disabilities refer to disorders that affect the ability to interpret what is seen and heard or to link information from different parts of the brain (Neuwirth, 1993). Individuals with learning disabilities may have problems reading, speaking, writing, memorizing, arithmetic, or reasoning. Without careful assessment, some adolescents with learning disabilities may be viewed as behavioral problems, and the cognitive problems underlying their behavioral problems may be overlooked and untreated. Hormonal changes of adolescence and the increased demands of school can exacerbate learning difficulties that adolescents were able to overcome or mask when they were young. Once they reach middle and high school, youth with learning disabilities are at increased risk of failing in school if their problems are not understood and addressed. In addition, problems processing verbal information or a lack of logical thinking can make it difficult for some adolescents with learning disabilities to form positive relationships with their peers.

Adolescents with learning disabilities are reported to be 2 to 3 times more likely to experience severe emotional distress than other adolescents, with girls being more likely to experience these problems than boys (Svetaz, Ireland, & Blum, 2000). In addition, adolescents with learning disabilities are significantly more likely than adolescents in the general population to report having attempted suicide or participated in violent crimes in the past year. They are at particularly high risk of these negative consequences if they are suffering from emotional stress. In adolescents with learning disabilities, feeling connected to family and school and having a religious identity are all factors associated with a lower risk of negative outcomes such as emotional distress, attempted suicide and involvement in violence. Therefore, families, schools and other institutions play an important role in protecting these young people from negative consequences (Svetaz et al., 2000). Because of the higher risk that adolescents with learning disabilities have for serious problems, professionals should monitor adolescents' social and emotional functioning, paying particular attention to signs of anxiety and depression. Conversely, adolescents with anxiety or depression who have not been identified as having a learning disability or emotional disorder should also be screened to rule out the presence of these problems.

Yes... it's normal for teenagers...

  • Arguing for the sake of arguing. Adolescents often digress and argue over trivial matters for seemingly no apparent reason; this can be very frustrating for many adults (Walker & Taylor, 1991). Remember that youngsters can be exciting to practice their new thinking skills and they need the opportunity to experiment with these new skills.
  • Come to the conclusion. Adolescents, despite their newfound reasoning skills, sometimes jump to conclusions (Jaffe, 1998). However, a youth may be taking a risk when verbally stating a position, and what may seem bold may actually be showing off to hide his or her fear. Instead of correcting their argument, give the youth the floor and just listen. You build trust by being a good listener. Allow a youth to save face by not correcting or arguing with flawed logic at every turn. Try to find what is realistically positive in what is being said and reinforce it; Perhaps one day you will enjoy the intellectual stimulation of the debates.
  • Be self-centered (Jaffe, 1998). Adolescents can be very “me-centric”. It takes time to learn to consider other people's perspectives; In fact, this is a skill that can be learned.
  • Constantly fault the adult position (Bjorklund & Green, 1992). Adolescents' newfound ability to think critically encourages them to look for discrepancies, contradictions, or exceptions in what (especially) adults are saying. Sometimes they will most openly question or criticize adults with whom they feel most comfortable. This can be quite an adjustment to get used to, especially if you take it personally or if youth has idealized you in the past.
  • Be overly dramatic (Jaffe, 1998). Everything seems to be a "big deal" for teenagers. For some teens, being overly dramatic or exaggerating their opinions and behaviors is just part of the game. Dramatic speech is usually best viewed as a figure of speech rather than an indicator of possible extreme action, unless a youth's story indicates otherwise.

Adolescent emotional development

Emotional development during adolescence involves establishing a realistic and coherent sense of identity related to relating to others and learning to manage stress and manage emotions (Santrock, 2001), processes that are a lifelong issue for most people. Identity is not just about how young people see themselves today; it also includes what is termed the “possible self”—what individuals could become and who they would like to become (Markus & Nurius, 1986). Establishing a sense of identity has traditionally been considered the central task of adolescence (Erikson, 1968), although it is now generally accepted that identity formation neither begins nor ends during adolescence. Adolescence, however, is the first time individuals have the cognitive ability to consciously sort through who they are and what makes them unique.

development of a sense of identity

Identity involves two concepts. The first is self-concept: the beliefs one has about oneself. These include beliefs about one's characteristics (e.g., tall, intelligent), roles and aspirations (e.g., what job one would like to have when one grows up), and interests, values, and beliefs (e.g., religious, political ). Second is self-esteem, which is about evaluating how you feel about your self-concept. “Global” self-esteem refers to how much we like or approve of our perceived self as a whole. “Specific” self-esteem refers to how much we feel about certain parts of ourselves (eg, as an athlete or student, how you look, etc.). Self-esteem develops uniquely for each adolescent, and many different avenues of self-esteem are possible throughout adolescence (Zimmerman, Copeland, Shope, & Dielman, 1997). Therefore, self-esteem, whether high or low, may remain relatively stable or steadily improve or deteriorate during adolescence.

Many of the factors already described indevelop adolescentsaffect identity development and self-esteem in adolescence. For example, adolescents' developing cognitive abilities enable them to make abstract generalizations about the self (Keating, 1990). The physical changes they experience can have a powerful positive or negative impact on global self-esteem. This is especially true in early adolescence, when physical appearance tops the list of factors determining global self-esteem, especially for girls (Harter, 1990a). Comments made by others, particularly parents and peers, reflect assessments of the individual that some adolescents incorporate as part of their identity and feelings about themselves (Robinson, 1995).

The process by which an adolescent begins to acquire a realistic sense of identity also involves experimenting with different ways of looking, sounding and behaving. Each young person approaches these tasks in their own unique way. Just as one youth explores more in one area (e.g. music), another will explore more in another area (e.g. adopting a certain style or appearance). Professionals whose job it is to counsel parents or young people can assure them that most experiments are a positive sign that young people feel safe enough to explore the unknown. Adolescents who do not experiment in any area are sometimes seen as more stable, but may actually have more difficulties than adolescents who seem to flirt from one interest to another. Adolescence is a time when experimentation with developmental alternatives is appropriate, except when it seriously threatens the adolescent's health or life. While it seems like a simple strategy, professionals can help teens define their identity simply by taking the time to ask questions and listen to the answers without judgement. It's amazing how many youth are eager to discuss these issues with a trusted adult, and how few are given the opportunity. Discussing these topics can also help youngsters develop their new abstract and moral thinking skills.

increase in self-esteem

Low self-esteem arises when there is a discrepancy between one's self-concept and what one thinks one “should” be (Harter, 1990b). How can a professional know if an adolescent has low self-esteem? The following traits have been identified by various researchers as being associated with low self-esteem in adolescents (Jaffe, 1998):

(Video) Adolescent Development

  • feeling depressed
  • lack of energy
  • Disliking one's appearance and rejecting compliments
  • Feeling insecure or inadequate most of the time
  • Having unrealistic expectations of yourself
  • You have serious doubts about the future
  • Being overly shy and rarely voicing your point of view
  • Adjusting to what others want and adopting a submissive attitude in most situations

Because consistently low self-esteem has been found to be associated with negative outcomes such as depression, eating disorders, crime, and other adjustment problems (Harter & Marold, 1992; Striegel-Moore & Cachelin, 1999), it is important that professionals identify adolescents who have these Have characteristics and help them get the extra help they need.

How can a professional help a young person to increase their self-esteem? The most important task is to identify the specific areas that are important to the young person. Attempting to improve global self-esteem is difficult, but helping adolescents improve their self-concept in specific value areas is feasible and contributes to global self-esteem in the long term (Harter, 1990b). For example, a professional may determine that a youth with low self-esteem is interested in learning to play the guitar. Encouraging the youth to explore this specific interest and helping them find resources that could lead to guitar lessons can lead to important gains in self-esteem.

Professionals can help boost teens' self-esteem by helping them face a problem rather than avoid it. This may include activities such as teaching the youth interpersonal or problem-solving skills, role-playing a difficult conversation, or providing information and resources. Or it can simply mean offering continuous encouragement and support in feared situations, such as: For example, passing an exam, breaking up with a friend, or telling a parent that you have decided to stop exercising. The professional must use their skills and knowledge to determine if the young person is overwhelmed and needs more than coaching and support to deal with a particular situation. For example, when a young person expresses suicidal thoughts, this is clearly a situation where professional psychological help is needed.

Emotional intelligence

Both identity development and moral development take place in the context of relating to others (Jordan, 1994). All youth must begin to master the emotional skills needed to deal with stress and be sensitive and effective in dealing with other people. These skills have been termed “emotional intelligence” (Goleman, 1994). Emotional intelligence involves self-knowledge, but more importantly relationship skills – the ability to get along well with other people and make friends. Professionals who can help teens develop emotional intelligence provide them with resources to help them succeed as adults in both their personal and professional lives. However, one does not have to look to the future for the benefits; Adolescents without relationship skills are at greater risk than their peers who do have these skills for a range of problems including early school leaving (Olweus, 1996).

What follows is a brief description of the most important skills young people should learn as part of their emotional development.

  • Recognize and manage emotions.In order to name their feelings correctly, young people must learn to consciously pay attention to them. Without that confidence, they may simply say they feel "good" or "bad," "okay," or "tight." If teens can indicate that they are "scared" about an upcoming test or "sad" about being rejected by a potential love interest, then they have identified the source of their feelings, which may lead them to explore options for solving their problem discover. For example, they can take time to study or ask for help preparing for the test, or they can talk to a friend about how they feel about being rejected by a romantic relationship, or think about a new person to commit to might be interested. The important point is that being aware and being able to name their feelings helps young people identify options and do something constructive about them. Without this awareness, if the feelings become uncomfortable enough and the source is undefined, they may try to numb their emotions with alcohol or other drugs, overeat, or withdraw and become depressed. Adolescents who are angry may take their anger out on others and hurt them or themselves instead of dealing with their anger constructively if they are unaware of their source (Goleman, 1994).
  • develop empathy.Recognizing their own emotions provides the foundation but does not ensure that adolescents recognize that others have feelings and that they need to consider those feelings. Some adolescents have particular difficulty in accurately “reading” the feelings of others, for example confusing neutral comments with hostility. Empathy can be taught in different contexts, for example by helping students to empathize with different immigrant groups and to understand emotionally the negative consequences of prejudice (Aronson, 2000).
  • Learn to resolve conflicts constructively.Given people's unique and varied needs and desires, conflict is inevitable. Conflict management tools may be modeled informally by professionals or, as in some schools, actively taught to youth. Conflict resolution programs teach students to define their goals in conflict, their feelings, and the reasons for what they want and feel, and then ask them to use the perspective of other stakeholders when identifying options that might resolve conflict (Johnson & Johnson , 1991). Although many of these skills are taught in programs aimed at youth, they can also be taught informally with good results.
  • Developing a collaborative spirit.It is hardly surprising that schools reflect the competitive attitude that prevails in our larger society. But in today's workplace, the importance of teams and the ability to work collaboratively with others is being increasingly emphasized. Even some Nintendo and video games require cooperation between players (Santrock, 2001). The 'puzzle classroom' is an instructional technique developed to facilitate the development of collaborative skills (Aronson & Patnoe, 1997). It requires students to rely on each other to learn a subject, using strategies that reduce competition and increase student prestige that are sometimes ignored or ridiculed. The name derives from the fact that each student becomes part of a small group of experts, which is an informative piece of the puzzle that must be pieced together with others in order to fully understand a topic. This approach has not only helped youth learn how to work collaboratively toward a group goal, but also improved their academic performance.

Professionals can create awareness of the importance of these skills in their work with young people and develop strategies to help young people build these skills in their daily interactions with them.

Group differences in emotional development

Emotional development is unique to each young person, with different patterns emerging for different groups of young people. Boys and girls can differ in the challenges they face in their emotional development. For youth from minority cultures in the United States, an important challenge to healthy emotional development is feeling positive about their ethnic identity, sometimes in the wake of negative stereotypes about their culture. Adolescents whose sexual orientation is gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and adolescents who have a physical disability or chronic illness, experience additional challenges in building positive self-esteem in a culture where the dominant media image of an adolescent is white, straight, thin, and strong middle-class teenager. Adolescents need adults who can model positive self-esteem, teach them to be proud of their identity, and help them deal positively with any prejudice they may encounter in their lives.

gender differences

Longitudinal research has shown that self-esteem tends to decline somewhat as girls enter adolescents, with different patterns emerging across ethnic groups (Brown et al., 1998). Particularly in early adolescence, some studies have shown that boys tend to have higher global self-esteem than girls (eg, Bolognini, Plancherel, Bettschart, & Halfon, 1996; Chubb, Fertman, & Ross, 1997).

Due to the different socialization of boys and girls in our society, male and female adolescents can also differ in their specific need for professional support in identity formation. For example, some adolescent girls may need help learning to become more confident or to express anger. Adolescent boys, on the other hand, may need to be encouraged to form cooperative rather than competitive relationships with other men and to help them understand that it is okay to feel and express emotions other than anger (Pollack & Shuster, 2000).

ethnic diversity

Developing a sense of ethnic identity is an important task for many youth, and numerous studies have found that a strong ethnic identity contributes to high self-esteem among youth from minority ethnic groups (e.g. Carlson, Uppal & Prosser, 2000). Ethnic identity encompasses the shared values, traditions, and practices of a cultural group. Identifying with holidays, music, rituals, clothing, history, and heroic figures associated with one's culture helps build a sense of belonging and a positive identity. For many of these adolescents, adolescence may be the first time they consciously engage and reflect on their ethnicity (Spencer & Dornbusch, 1990). This awareness can include both positive and negative experiences.

Adolescents with strong ethnic identities tend to have higher self-esteem than those who do not identify as strongly with their ethnic group. Professionals can alert parents to this fact and encourage them to discuss and practice aspects of their own ethnic identity (eg, history, culture, traditions) at home to help their child develop a strong ethnic identity (Phinney, Cantu, & Kurtz, 1997; Thornton, Chatters, Taylor & Allen, 1990).

Naturally, the values ​​that parents consider most important to instill in youth vary across ethnic cultures. For example, Asian American parents consider valuing the needs and desires of the group over those of the individual and avoiding shame as important values ​​to instill in youth (Yeh & Huang, 1996). African American families tend to value spirituality, family, and respect. Values ​​emphasized by Latino parents include cooperation, respect for elders and other authority figures, and the importance of extended family relationships (Vasquez & de las Fuentes, 1999). Parents from many Native American cultures value harmony with nature and connection with family (Attneave, 1982). And parents from mainstream white culture can emphasize independence and individualism.

There is great diversity within each of these ethnic groups. Well-meaning individuals can still overlook the fact that within the Latino community, there are major cultural differences between those who hail from Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, or Puerto Rico, for example. Black youth can have cultural roots in parts of the world as diverse as Africa, the West Indies, Europe, or Latin American countries. Asian Americans from Vietnam, China, and Japan also differ significantly in their cultural heritage.

Likewise, it can be important to consider whether an adolescent comes from a family that recently immigrated to the United States or from a family whose roots are in America for many generations. When working with young people and their families, there are different levels of acculturation to consider, i. H. the adoption of behaviors and beliefs of the dominant culture. For example, parents who are not proficient in English may rely on their children to interpret important information for them.

For many people in the United States, an inevitable and important part of building a sense of ethnic identity is becoming aware of racism and gaining an understanding of the manifestations of social injustice. Professionals working with youth from ethnic minorities can help them understand the discrimination they may face and build the confidence and skills needed to overcome these obstacles (Boyd-Franklin & Franklin, 2000; Oyserman , Gant & Ager, 1995). 17 Professionals can also help white youth understand and be aware of racism and discrimination and how it affects people of color.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth

Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth represent another minority group for whom identity concerns may be particularly acute during adolescence. In addition to the typical identity tasks of an adolescent, these young people can also negotiate the developmental task of integrating a sexual identity into a homosexually discriminating society and a largely homophobic youth culture. Youth from minority ethnic groups, who also have to cope with the stress of racial discrimination, face the additional challenge of developing an identity that reflects both their racial or ethnic status and their sexual identity. Developing a gay, lesbian, or bisexual identity often begins with an awareness of being “different,” being attracted to members of the same sex, and not sharing the attraction of the opposite sex to one's peers. An adolescent may find this awareness frightening and may attempt to deny feelings of same-sex attraction and reinforce feelings toward the opposite sex. A supportive environment can help adolescents manage this process and identify their sexual orientation (Fontaine & Hammond, 1996; Ryan & Futterman, 1998; Savin-Williams, 1998). As with heterosexual adolescents, sexual exploration proceeds differently depending on the individual. Most adolescents first disclose their sexual orientation to trusted friends, but may prefer that their status remain secret due to the stigma associated with differing sexual orientations. When told to family members, mothers are more likely to be informed before fathers (Savin-Williams, 1998).

It is important to understand that there are numerous reasons why some youth (particularly men) engage in same-sex sexual behavior – they may self-identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual; they may question their sexual identity; or they just experiment. Professionals privy to disclosures by youth about such experiences should not necessarily assume that these youth are in the process of discovering or developing a gay, lesbian, or bisexual identity—they may or may not be. At the same time, professionals should be aware that being gay, lesbian or bisexual can be particularly challenging for teenagers.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are at greater risk than their straight peers for a range of health issues. Examples include substance use, earlier initiation of heterosexual intercourse, unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection (particularly in men) and other sexually transmitted diseases (Blake, Ledsky, Lehman & Goodenow, 2001; Faulkner & Cranston, 1998; Saewyc, Bearinger, Blum & Resnick, 1999; Saewyc, Skay, Bearinger & Blum, 1998). It has also been reported that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are at greater risk of exposure to verbal and physical violence directed against them in a variety of settings (Faulkner & Cranston, 1998; Russell, Franz, and Driscoll, 2001 ). In addition to the risk associated with violence by others, there is evidence that gay or bisexual boys are at higher risk of attempting suicide than straight youth (Remafedi, French, Story, Resnick & Blum, 1998). This suicidal risk is not related to sexual orientation per se, but to the unbearable stress caused by stigma, sexual prejudice, and the pressure to hide one's identity and feelings without appropriate interpersonal support (Rotheram-Borus, Rosario, Van Rossem, Reid, & Gillis, 1995).

A challenge for professionals is not only to work to reduce the risks faced by these young people, but also to build their resilience so that young people can effectively deal with the challenges that may come their way. Youth who are connected to their family, school, and community are more likely to have the resources needed to cope with the pressures and challenges they face. Professionals working with youth who are in the process of discovering and accepting their lesbian, gay or bisexual identity can:

  • Provide accurate sexual orientation information to dispel stereotypes about gay, lesbian, or sexuality
  • Avoid communicating your disapproval of gay, lesbian, or bisexual sexuality
  • Help the youth recognize sexual prejudice and reject their messages
  • Do not pressure the youth to make a decision about their sexual orientation
  • Providing developmentally appropriate information about sexual behavior, including same-sex and opposite-sex behavior, that can lead to HIV infection, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy in a way that includes a lesbian, gay or bisexual sexual orientation
  • Be aware of the increased suicide risk of some young people and refer distressed young people to psychotherapeutic help accordingly
  • Acknowledge and address any prejudice they may have about gay, lesbian or bisexual youth

Tips for talking to young people

Engage youth with non-threatening questions. Pick just one or two questions at a time, and ask the youth questions that will help them define their identity. For example, who do you admire? What makes this person so admirable? What do you like to do in your free time? What do you see as your strengths? What are your hopes for the future? What have you done in your life that you're proud of (even if just a little bit)?

  • Listen impartially (and listen more than you speak). This allows the adolescent to see that you value their opinion and, as a result, trust you more (Forgatch & Patterson, 1989).
  • Ask open-ended questions. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer; this helps the young person to think through ideas and options (Hill & O'Brien, 1999).
  • Avoid "why" questions. "Why?" Questions tend to put people on the defensive (Plutchik, 2000). Try rephrasing your questions to understand what the youth was thinking, rather than the reason for something the youth said or did. For example, instead of asking, "Why did you say that? ay instead: "You seem like you were really trying to get a point across when you did that. Can you tell me more about what you meant?”
  • Adjust the adolescent's emotional state unless they are hostile. If the teen seems enthusiastic or sad, let your responses reflect their mood. Reflecting a person's mood helps the person feel understood (Forgatch & Patterson, 1989).
  • Model casually rational decision-making strategies. Discuss how you once came to a decision. For example, explain how you (or someone you know well) defined the problem, developed options, anticipated positive and negative consequences, made the decision, and evaluated the outcome. Remember that the adolescent has a relatively short attention span, so be brief. Choose a topic relevant to youth (e.g., deciding how to handle an interpersonal conflict, identifying strategies for earning money for college) (Keating, 1990).
  • Discuss ethical and moral issues that are in the news. Encourage the youth to think aloud about the problems. Without questioning his or her point of view, think aloud how others might differ in their perspectives on the issue and what might influence those differences (Santilli & Hudson, 1992).

Social development of young people

Adolescent social development is best viewed in the contexts in which it occurs; that is, in relation to peers, family, school, work, and community. When interpreting research on youth social development, it is important to note that most research to date is based on samples of white, middle-class youth. Research conducted with more heterogeneous groups of youth has uncovered differences between youth from different ethnic backgrounds, so generalizations to specific ethnic groups should be made with caution when the research is based solely on samples of white youth.

peer relationships

One of the most obvious changes in adolescence is that the center around which the adolescent's world revolves shifts from the family to the peer group. It is important to note that this reduced frequency of family contact does not mean that family closeness has become less important to the adolescent (O'Koon, 1997). In fact, it has recently been confirmed that family closeness and attachment is the most important factor associated with not smoking, lower consumption of alcohol and other drugs, later sexual intercourse and fewer suicide attempts in adolescents (Resnick, Bearman & Blum et al., 1997).

In order to achieve greater independence from their parents, young people have to orientate themselves more towards their peers than in earlier stages of development. The professionals whose job it is to counsel parents can help them reassure them that increased peer contact among young people does not mean that parents are less important to them, but that the new peer focus is an important and important one represents a healthy new phase in their child's development. Professionals can also educate parents about the importance of positive relationships with peers during adolescence.

Peer groups serve a number of important functions throughout adolescence and provide a transitory reference point for a developing sense of identity. Through peer identification, adolescents begin to develop moral judgments and values ​​(Bishop & Inderbitzen, 1995) and to define how they differ from their parents (Micucci, 1998). At the same time, however, it is important to note that young people are often secretly looking for ways to identify with their parents. Another important function of peer groups is to provide young people with a source of information about the world outside the family and about themselves (Santrock, 2001). Peer groups also serve as powerful reinforcers during adolescence as sources of popularity, status, prestige, and acceptance.

Being accepted by peers has important implications for adjustment during both adolescence and adulthood. For example, one study found that by age 30, fifth graders who were able to make at least one good friend had higher self-esteem than those who had no friends (Bagwell, Newcomb, & Bukowski, 1998). Positive peer relationships during adolescence have been associated with positive psychosocial adjustment. For example, those who are accepted by their peers and who cultivate mutual friendships have been found to have better self-image during adolescence and perform better in school (Hansen, Giacoletti, & Nangle, 1995; Savin-Williams & Berndt, 1990). On the other hand, social isolation among rejected peers has been associated with a variety of negative behaviors, such as delinquency (Kupersmidt & Coie, 1990). In addition, adults who experienced interpersonal problems during adolescence appear to be at much greater risk of developing psychosocial difficulties in adulthood (Hansen et al., 1995).

The nature of youth participation in peer groups changes over the course of adolescence. Younger adolescents typically have at least one primary peer group they identify with, whose members are similar in many respects, including gender (Savin-Williams & Berndt, 1990). This is the time when engagement with the peer group is most intense, and conformity and concerns about acceptance are highest. Preoccupation with how their peers view them can become all-consuming for adolescents. A strong desire to belong to a particular group can motivate young adolescents to join activities in which they would not otherwise engage (Mucucci, 1998; Santrock, 2001). Adolescents need adults who can help them withstand peer pressure and find alternative groups that are “cool enough” that they will accept when the group the adolescent wants to belong to is undesirable (or even dangerous). The need to belong to a group at this age is too strong to simply ignore.

In middle adolescence (ages 14–16), peer groups tend to be more gender-mixed. Typical are less conformity and more tolerance for individual differences in looks, beliefs, and feelings. In late adolescence, peer groups were often replaced by more intimate dyadic relationships, such as one-on-one friendships and romances, which became more meaningful as the adolescent matured (Micucci, 1998). For some youth from minority ethnic groups, there may be a greater emphasis on peer groups throughout adolescence, particularly if they are in a minority school or community, as the group can provide a much-needed sense of belonging within the majority culture (Spencer & Dornbusch, 1990).

Teens vary in the number of friends they have and how they spend time with their friends. Introverted youth tend to have fewer but closer friendships, and boys and girls differ in the types of activities they most often engage in with their friends. In general, boys tend to engage in more action-oriented pursuits and girls spend more time talking (Smith, 1997). However, people of both sexes seem to value the same qualities in a friend: loyalty, openness, and trustworthiness (Claes, 1992). Some studies have also shown that adolescent girls value intimacy, the feeling that one can freely share one's private thoughts and feelings, as a primary quality in friendship (Bakken & Romig, 1992; Claes, 1992; Clark & ​​Ayers, 1993 ). Boys also speak of the importance of intimacy in friendship (Pollack & Shuster, 2000). A review of studies showed that white adolescent girls are more likely than boys to reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings to friends, and they receive more social support from friends. However, this gender difference does not appear to apply to African-American youth (Brown, Way & Duff, 1999).

Having a friend requires having the social skills to find and keep that friend. Most youth have the basics of these skills in place, and peer groups and friendships allow them to further hone these skills. However, for a small proportion of young people this is not the case. These youth can be rejected by their peers and this rejection can have serious negative effects such as: B. crime, substance abuse, school dropout and aggression (Asher & Coie, 1990). For youth who lack social skills, adults who informally coach them in relevant skill areas can be lifesavers. Discussing how to initiate conversations with peers, give genuine compliments, be a good listener, share private information appropriately, and remain confidential can go a long way toward improving social skills.

Professionals who come into contact with young people with more pronounced social skills deficits should take the time to find ongoing professional help for these young people. Adolescents who lack social skills and who also develop aggressive behavior are likely to need professional help to eliminate their aggressive and disruptive behavior (Coie & Dodge, 1998). However, young people who lack social skills but do not show any behavioral problems need help, as do young people who behave antisocially, e.g. B. through arguments or problems at school. They may not make as much "noise" in the community as these youngsters do, but they are still at risk of long-term trouble if their problems during puberty are not addressed.

dating and sexual behavior

Dating typically begins in middle adolescence, usually between the ages of 14 and 16. Even very young adolescents are now "cyberding" via the Internet, exchanging views on common interests without having to risk face-to-face encounters or even telephone encounters (Santrock, 2001). Early romantic relationships tend to be short-lived, usually just a few months, with most dating taking place in a group context, at least for white youth. As the time invested in a particular relationship increases, many adolescents tend to have a higher expectation that sexual involvement will occur. The latest data from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health shows that nearly half of white and Hispanic adolescents and 65% of black adolescents have had sexual intercourse by grade 12. For reasons that are not yet understood, Black adolescents tend to begin intercourse at a younger age than other ethnic groups, with 37% reporting having had intercourse as early as eighth grade (Resnick et al., 1997).

Reliable data on sexual experiences other than vaginal intercourse, such as oral or anal intercourse, are currently not available for adolescents. However, there is some anecdotal evidence that adolescents sometimes engage in these 'outside' activities as an alternative to vaginal intercourse to protect themselves from pregnancy or to preserve virginity (Remez, 2000). Certain sexual behaviors (e.g. anal sex) may put young people at particularly higher risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases. It is important that sexually active adolescents who engage in these behaviors understand the increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, herpes simplex, human papillomavirus, gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia. Because adolescents may have different ideas about what constitutes “having sex”, professionals need to be careful that both they and the adolescent understand exactly what behaviors they are talking about when discussing sexuality issues. For example, although both consider vaginal intercourse to be sex, they may differ in their perceptions of whether activities such as oral sex, mutual masturbation, or even kissing constitute "having sex."

Negotiating sexuality in relationships can be challenging for adolescents. For some, there are significant costs in the form of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Professionals can help teens by being open and willing to openly discuss the interpersonal and health aspects of teens' evolving sexuality. Many sexually active adolescents, even if they are unwilling to stop their sexual activity, may be open to advice about making decisions about their sexual partners and changing their sexual behaviors that increase the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections Increased disease (e.g. multiple sex partners, non-use of contraceptives, and barriers to protection from sexually transmitted diseases) (Rosenthal, Burklow & Lewis et al., 1997).

Problems related to adolescent sexuality can be encountered by professionals working with adolescents in many different settings. Nurses and physicians, as well as various other professionals, must be well informed of the state and local laws governing the provision of contraceptive information and services to minors, as well as any relevant policies that may exist in the professionals' particular work environments. There is evidence that at least some adolescents are open to discussing sexuality with adults. In a study of 148 teenage girls who had never had sex, 33% said they would talk to a doctor about sex. In addition to information about contraception and prevention of STDs, these girls identified the following topics as appropriate: "Deciding About Sex," "Whether Ready for Sex," "Alternatives to Sex," "How to Refuse Sex," and "Help Yourself to speak to parents.” The overriding concern when speaking to a healthcare professional was confidentiality, but these adolescents also feared being lectured or worried that the professional would use “big, confusing words” (Ford, Millstein, Eyre & Irwin, 1996).

In addition to being sensitive to issues of sexuality in relationships, it is important for professionals to be aware of the grief and sense of loss associated with the ending of romantic relationships during adolescence. Adolescents need emotional support to process their grief, and feelings of sadness and despair should be taken seriously and acknowledged. Although the loss of a friend is clearly not the sole cause of suicide, it has been reported to trigger suicide attempts in adolescents with a history of difficulty or loss (Santrock, 2001).

Professionals should also be alert for signs of emotional or physical (including sexual) abuse in teenage relationships, including same-sex relationships. If a teen is in a relationship that exhibits patterns of uncontrolled anger, jealousy, or possessiveness, or is experiencing shoving, slapping, forced sex, or other physical violence—even just once—it is time to seek help. The APA has published a helpful brochureLove doesn't have to hurt teenagers (PDF, 640KB)to help youth understand abuse and take action when they find themselves in an abusive situation.

family relationships

Families today can take many forms – single parents, joint custody, adoptive families, mixed race families, foster families, traditional dual parents, to name a few. Regardless of family type, a strong sense of attachment, closeness, and attachment to family has been found to be associated with better emotional development, academic performance, and involvement in less risky activities such as drug use (Resnick et al., 1997; Klein, 1997; Perry, 2000).

Divorce is a fact of life for more than half of families in the United States. Whether or not divorce has negative effects on adolescents appears to depend on a number of factors, not just the fact of the divorce itself. Although it is true that adolescents from divorced families have more adjustment problems than adolescents from intact families (Conger & Chao, 1996) , this suggests that most adolescents are coping well with their parents' divorce (Emery, 1999). Factors that seem to have the greatest impact on coping include whether parents can be harmonious parents after divorce (Hetherington, 2000) and whether the economic problems that often arise after divorce and lead to other stresses, such as e.g. B. a move, are possible are kept to a minimum (Emery, 1999).

Parents often ask professionals how they should change their parenting practices as their children grow older. It seems that parents who are warm and engaging, set firm guidelines and boundaries, have reasonable developmental expectations, and encourage the adolescent to develop their own beliefs are most effective. These parents tend to think logically and persuade, explain rules, discuss problems, and listen respectfully. Adolescents who come from families with this parenting style tend to achieve better academic results, report less depression and anxiety, have higher self-confidence and self-esteem scores, and are less likely to engage in criminal behavior and substance abuse (Carlson et al., 2000; Dornbusch , Ritter, Liderman & Fraleigh, 1987; Sessa & Steinberg, 1991; Steinberg, 2001). However, it should be noted that the level of parental supervision and supervision required to promote the healthy development of the adolescent may vary depending on the characteristics of the adolescent's environment and neighborhood. For example, setting stricter limits may actually be desirable for youth living in communities where there is low levels of adult supervision, high levels of danger, and higher levels of problematic peer behavior, such as: High crime neighborhoods (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2000).

During adolescence, parent-adolescent conflict tends to increase, particularly between adolescent girls and their mothers. This conflict appears to be a necessary part of becoming independent from parents while learning new ways of connecting with them (Steinberg, 2001). Daughters in particular seem to strive for new forms of relationship with their mothers (Debold, Weseen & Brookins, 1999). Daughters can be awkward and dismissive in their search for new avenues of relationship. Understandably, mothers can withdraw and a cycle of mutual distancing can begin that is sometimes difficult to break. If parents can be reassured that their teen's awkwardness isn't rejection and they can be encouraged to get involved, a new type of relationship that is satisfying for everyone can eventually develop.

Parent-teen conflict tends to peak in younger adolescents (Lauren, Coy, & Collins, 1998). Typically, two types of conflict arise: spontaneous conflicts about everyday issues, such as what clothes the adolescent can buy or wear and whether homework is done, and conflicts about important issues, such as academic performance. Interestingly, the spontaneous conflicts that arise in everyday life seem to burden parents more than adolescents (Steinberg, 2001). It is important for parents to keep this in mind. Parents often attach greater importance to conflicting interactions, interpreting them as denials of their values ​​or as indicators of their failure as parents. Adolescents, on the other hand, may see the interaction as far less meaningful — just another way to show Mom or Dad that they are individuals, or just to let off steam. Professionals can help parents understand that minor conflicts or arguments are normal and that these exchanges do not mean they are not competent or effective parents (Steinberg, 2001).


For most young people, school is an important part of their lives. This is where they build and develop relationships with their peers, and this is where they have the opportunity to develop important cognitive skills. For some youth it is also a source of security and stability. Some of the same qualities that characterize families of thriving youth—a strong sense of connectedness, connectedness, and belonging, and a sense of being cared for—also characterize youth's positive relationships with their teachers and their schools. Another factor, adolescent perceptions of teacher equity, was also found to be associated with positive adolescent development. It has been found that these factors, more than school size, type of school (e.g. public, private) or teacher-student ratio, are strongly related to whether adolescents are successful or with drugs, crime or early school leaving have to do outside of school (Resnick et al., 1997; Klein, 1997). Because schools are such an important environment for young people, it can be important, even for professionals working in other settings, to connect with an at-risk youth's school psychologist, counselor or social worker to help set up a supportive care system.

During puberty, young people typically move from elementary school to junior high or middle school and then to high school. Each of these transitions can pose challenges to both academic achievement and psychological well-being (Seidman, Aber, & French, in press). A drop in academic performance is common after moving to middle or middle school, a transition that can be quite disruptive for some teens. For some, this signals the beginning of a process of disengagement from school. A drop in self-esteem is also common. Although most will "recover" later, for some this decline will continue, increasing their risk of lower grades and even failure in high school. Although the transition to high school is not as dramatic, some students will continue to withdraw at this stage. Professionals should be aware of the difficulties that young people may face with school transitions and be prepared to provide additional support and guidance during these periods.

More than ever, a high school diploma is a prerequisite for economic success in this country. Fortunately, the trend over the past 20 years has been for youth, including those from most ethnic minorities, to graduate from high school. In addition, the academic achievement gap between minority and majority ethnic groups has narrowed significantly over the past two decades. Despite these advances, however, significant differences between ethnic groups persist. Although 92% of non-Hispanic Whites and 84% of Black non-Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds had graduated from high school with either a diploma or a certificate of equivalence in 2000, only 64% of Hispanics in this age group had a high degree School (Kaufman, Alt & Chapman, 2001). It is also important to remember that young people have different access to quality education. In particular, school systems in poor areas, where students are more likely to be from ethnic or racial minorities, tend to be less well funded, may have less qualified teachers, and have fewer resources than schools in more affluent areas.

A university degree is becoming increasingly important for economic success. Unfortunately, some groups are being left behind, particularly African American youth and youth from lower-income backgrounds (U.S. Council of Economic Advisors, 2000). Professionals can help make these youth aware of the financial and other assistance available to them to pursue a college degree and provide them with access to resources to help them overcome the economic and social barriers that can make it difficult for them to pursue an academic career to be succesfull. They also need adults in their lives who believe in their potential as college students, especially if they come from families where they will be the first to enter college. Without at least one adult reaching out to them early in their junior high school career, these young people may not see college as within their means. However, college is only an option for teens after high school. Another important decision is vocational training. Greater attention is now being paid to tying the pupils to municipal vocational training during their school years and preparing them for vocational training beyond high school. According to the American Vocational Association, there are currently 9,400 post-secondary institutions offering technical programs that offer education from culinary arts to computer technology. Students who are not attracted to college should be instructed to explore these options. If not, they are likely to drift into easy-to-access jobs that at first appear to be high-paying given the youth's limited experience. While the ease with which these jobs can be obtained can make them very attractive, in the long run they are unlikely to provide the resources needed to support a young adult living independently, let alone support a family (Jaffe, 1998). The large number of students and the small number of careers advisers in many schools almost guarantee that many students fall through the cracks when planning their careers. Therefore, it is helpful to ask and encourage youth to pursue post-secondary education and vocational training, regardless of their professional role.


Many young people have a part-time job while they are at school. These jobs can help teens learn many important lessons, such as how the business world works, how to find and keep a job, how to manage time and money, and how to set goals and be proud of your accomplishments (Committee on the Health and Safety Implications of Child Labor, 1998; Perry, 2000). However, what seems clear from the most extensive research conducted to date is that the number of hours a young person works is crucial in determining whether these positive benefits are offset by negative ones. Adolescents who work 20 hours or more per week during the school year are at greater risk of a variety of adverse outcomes, including work-related injuries, lower educational attainment, substance abuse and inadequate sleep (Committee on the Health and Safety Implications of Child Labor, 1998) . Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health suggest that these young people are more emotionally distressed, have lower grades, are more likely to smoke cigarettes, and are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use (Resnick et al., 1997). Adults working with youth should warn them that they should try to limit their work hours to less than 20 hours per week during the school year, recognizing that for some youth work is an economic necessity.

For young people who do not complete a degree, the transition to working life after school can be difficult. Young people can drift away and feel disconnected from school or the world of work. Mentoring and school-to-work programs can be helpful for some of these youth, especially when planned as a prevention rather than a crisis intervention strategy (Besharov, 1999).


The characteristics of the community in which an adolescent lives can have a profound impact on the adolescent's development. Community includes factors such as the socio-economic characteristics of one's neighborhood, the types of resources available, the service systems within the community (including schools), religious organizations, the media, and the people living in the community. Some communities are rich in resources that provide support and opportunities for youth. Unfortunately, many communities, particularly in inner city or poor rural areas, do not.

The influence of neighborhood features

Socioeconomic status (SES) and neighborhood stability (i.e., the extent to which people of all SES classes tend to stay in the neighborhood over a period of time) can significantly affect adolescent development. For example, living in a neighborhood with high SES is positively associated with academic achievement and negatively associated with school dropout, particularly for adolescent males. On the other hand, youth living in neighborhoods with low SES—particularly younger youth—are more likely to engage in criminal behavior and have behavior problems such as aggression or aggression and drug use. However, when young people have the opportunity to move out of slums, their prospects improve. Among minority youth, it was found that those who move from public housing to more affluent neighborhoods are more likely to stay in school and attend college than their peers who remain in public housing. And adolescent boys who are involved in the criminal justice system and move to higher SES neighborhoods are less likely to be arrested again for violent crimes than their peers who remain in the same low SES neighborhoods. The links between low SES and juvenile delinquents and problematic behavior may be due in part to the lack of community institutions in poorer neighborhoods to monitor juvenile activities (eg, leisure, employment) (Leventhal & Brooks-Gunn, 2000).

Neighborhood stability is another important factor. For example, neighborhood instability has been linked to higher rates of substance abuse among young adolescents (Leventhal & Brooks-Gunn, 2000). On the other hand, the presence of professional and managerial staff in a neighborhood and lower unemployment rates are associated with more positive outcomes for youth. When the number of professionals and managers in a neighborhood decreases and the unemployment rate increases, sexual activity and child birth among adolescents increase. Lack of institutional resources (eg, education, child care, medical, and employment opportunities) and support for positive parenting relationships and practices are also associated with these findings, although further research is needed to clarify their impact (Leventhal & Brooks-Gunn , 2000).

Grassroots efforts are important to strengthen support networks for parents and children in unstable, low SES neighborhoods. However, without other changes, they probably won't make much of a difference. Employment opportunities for youth, affordable and accessible health care, community policing, housing rehabilitation and other resources that provide stability and security are also needed (Greene & Smith, 1995; Leventhal and Brooks-Gunn, 2000).

Many professionals choose to get involved in their communities as members of the boards of directors of community organizations or on school boards and other public policy makers. In this way, they are able to have a say in what programs are developed and funded in their community. These professionals need to know which programs have been evaluated and found to be effective in promoting healthy youth development. For example, the characteristics of the most successful programs include a tendency to involve youth as early as possible in adolescence, to involve at least one adult who is personally connected in a meaningful way with each youth, to involve parents and peers, to be based in schools, and to be responsive to diverse needs of youth (Lerner & Galambos, 1998).

To be successful, community intervention efforts must consider the values ​​of the cultural groups in that neighborhood (Greene & Smith, 1995). Because in many regions of the country, neighborhoods with low SES are predominantly populated by ethnic minorities, it is particularly important that efforts to support youth in these neighborhoods take into account the cultural context. For example, the “I Have a Future” program, which takes a community-based approach to (among other things) improving knowledge and attitudes related to personal health and risk of unhealthy behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, unsafe sex) ) is deliberately structured around the values ​​of African-American culture (Greene & Smith, 1995).

faith institutions

Youth from many ethnic groups, including European Americans, are positively influenced by spiritual and cultural values. Meaningful youth benefit from positive role models, explicit discussions about moral values, and a community where there are activities structured around prosocial values, including religious values. That religious issues are important to many young people is shown by a recent study of young people aged 11 to 25, in which more than 85% said they believed in God and more than 90% said that religion played at least some role in their lives important (Holder et al., 2000). Religious values ​​are of paramount importance in many ethnic minority cultures. African-American groups have been particularly vocal about the strengths they draw from religion and belief communities (Franklin & Franklin, 2000). For many American youth, their church serves as both a spiritual resource and a source of social support (Santrock, 2001). Religiosity is associated with lower involvement in alcohol and marijuana use. In particular, the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health found that adolescents whose families value church attendance and prayer were less likely to be exposed to these substances than those whose families did not value church attendance and prayer (Resnick et al., 1997 ). Adolescents who place greater importance on religion also reported less involvement in sexual activities (Holder et al., 2000).

The media

The media – including music, television and, more recently, the Internet – are an important part of the adolescent 'community'. Adolescents spend an estimated 6 to 8 hours a day being exposed to some form of media (Roberts, 2000), and adolescents are increasingly using more than one form of media at the same time (e.g., chatting with a friend on a cell phone, while " instant messaging" several others on the computer). Although media will continue to have a growing influence on adolescent development, the ultimate impact will depend on the extent to which positive opportunities can be utilized and negative influences minimized. On the one hand, television and films, for example, can be negative influences because of their portrayal of violence and unhealthy sexuality and their lack of positive role models (e.g., for adolescents of color; Berry, 2000). On the other hand, they can also be places of education that provide young people with valuable information on topics such as dealing with sexual situations (e.g. nutrition, prevention of violence and mental health issues (e.g. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2002).

The internet is now ubiquitous in young people's lives. Although not all young people have equal access to computers, either at home or at school, the vast majority of young people today have access to computers and the Internet. A recent survey found that 95% of 15-17 year olds have been online at some point, with most in this age group (83%) accessing the internet from home. Almost a third (29%) have access to the Internet from a computer in their bedroom, where parents are much less able to monitor their use (Rideout, 2001). Much of young people's online activities involve talking to people through e-mail, instant messaging, and chat rooms (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2002; Rideout, 2001). Typically, this activity is simply a form of peer interaction. However, it is also important to be aware of the potential risks of using it online. For example, teens who enter chat rooms can be victims of sexual harassment or worse, and pornography is easily accessible on the World Wide Web, even by accident (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2002; Rideout, 2001).

In a recent study of internet use among girls aged 13 to 18, most said they received very little advice from adults about the internet in their lifetime, with most of the advice they receive being about general precautions to ask of online security (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2002). On the other hand, respondents indicated that they wished adults would help them avoid and process emotionally charged situations, such as sexual harassment or online pornography, when they did arise. Although almost a third reported being sexually harassed online (e.g. being asked for cybersex or being asked about their bra size) and found the experience disturbing, most were reluctant to tell their parents. Professionals and other adults can help young people understand the potential risks of being online in a nonjudgmental way and help them identify and implement specific strategies for dealing with unwanted or frightening situations.

Finally, professionals can also act as advocates for youth by first educating themselves about media influence on youth (see, for example, the August 2000 supplement to theYouth Health Journalon youth and the media) and then contribute and support policies that protect youth from harmful media influences (Hogan, 2000). In this way, both contribute to changing unhealthy conditions and serve as important role models for young people, showing that it is important to act on your beliefs and not just talk about them.

behavioral development in adolescents

All of the ways adolescents develop—cognitively, physically, socially, emotionally—prepare them to experiment with new behaviors as they transition from childhood to adulthood. This experimentation, in turn, helps them optimize their development in these other areas. Risk-taking in adolescence is an important way in which adolescents shape their identities, test their new decision-making skills, and develop realistic assessments of themselves, other people, and the world (Ponton, 1997). Such exploratory behavior is natural in adolescence (Hamburg, 1997), and teenagers need space to experiment and experience the results of their own decision-making in many different situations (Dryfoos, 1998). However, young people sometimes overestimate their ability to deal with new situations and this behavior can pose a real threat to their health. In order to gain peer approval or to avoid peer rejection, adolescents sometimes take risks, even if they themselves consider it 'too risky' (Jaffe, 1998).

Adults have legitimate reasons to be concerned about risky behavior in adolescents. In the United States in 1999, 72% of all deaths among adolescents and young adults ages 10 to 24 were due to just four causes, all of which were behavior-related: automobile accidents (31%), homicide (18%), suicide (12%) and other unintentional injuries (11%) (Kann et al., 2000). And in 2000, nearly half a million teenage girls gave birth (Moore et al., 2001). Many teens today have far more free time unsupervised, especially in the afternoons, compared to previous generations, and parents fear their teens will get into trouble during these hours. Of course, for many young people, these hours are spent in constructive pursuits such as hobbies, extracurricular activities related to school, and study. For others, however, this unsupervised time becomes an opportunity to experiment with sexual behavior, delinquency and delinquency, or substance abuse (Sickmund, Snyder, & Poe-Yamagata, 1997; U.S. Department of Education & U.S. Department of Justice, 1998). Finally, this is also the time when a young person is most at risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime, such as robbery or assault (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). While it is important to focus on the positive aspects of youth, awareness of the unhealthy behaviors of youth is also crucial for those who want to help prevent and change these behaviors.

Reasons for young people's willingness to take risks

Several theories have been put forward as to why adolescents engage in risky behaviors (e.g. Arnett & Balle-Hjensen, 1993; Gibbons & Gerrard, 1995; Jessor, 1991). One theory emphasizes the need for excitement, fun, and novel, intense sensations that override the potential dangers of a particular activity (Arnett & Balle-Jensen, 1993). Another theory emphasizes that many of these risky behaviors occur in a group context and involve peer acceptance and status in the group (Jessor, 1991). A third theory emphasizes that adolescent risk-taking is a form of modeling and romanticizing adult behavior (Gibbons & Gerrard, 1995). In other words, adolescents engage in certain behaviors, such as cigarette smoking and sex, to identify with their parents and other adults. When considering these theories, it should be borne in mind that not all teenagers are the same and that they may have different reasons for engaging in the same risky behaviors (Jaffe, 1998).

(Video) What is the most important influence on child development | Tom Weisner | TEDxUCLA

Adolescents can also have several reasons for certain risky behavior. In view of the use of sexuality, for example, to market almost every imaginable product, it is no wonder that young people are so curious and eager to experiment. At the same time, research shows that many adolescents face significant peer pressure to engage in sexual behavior. In a nationwide survey of 12- to 18-year-olds, 61% of girls and 23% of boys said they thought pressure from a partner was "common" a reason teens have sex, and 43% of boys and 38% of girls said fear of being teased by others for being virgins was a common reason (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1996).

Overall, many experts conclude that risk-taking is “normal” in adolescence (Dryfoos, 1998; Hamburg, 1997; Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2000) and that providing guidance for decision-making is key and to encourage the youth to channel the positive developmental aspects of that energy into less dangerous and more constructive “risky” endeavors. Adults also need to consider where current programs and policies may go wrong. Despite the fact that American youth, for example, are no more sexually active than youth from other cultures, our teenage pregnancy rates are still much higher than most other industrialized nations (Santrock, 2001), although they have been declining over the past decade (May et al., 2000). These differences may be due to a number of factors, including differing access to birth control and abortion, differences in sex education, and cultural differences in attitudes towards sexual behavior, particularly among young people.

How can adults provide guidance, and what other opportunities are there for youth to take healthy risks? First, adults need to get used to talking to youth about decision-making in these somewhat sensitive areas — sex, drugs and alcohol, and other safety concerns. The goal is to help the adolescent weigh the dangers and benefits of a particular situation, consider their own strengths and weaknesses that may influence decision-making, and then make the best decisions possible (Ponton, 1997). This requires knowing both the risks of a particular behavior and that young person, and being able to listen and respond to the young person without being dogmatic. Just the fact that a young person is talking to an adult about these issues is a positive sign. Remember that there are many positive aspects of teen risk-taking and that most teens will take some risks. Over time, most young people gradually learn to assess risks realistically and adjust their behavior accordingly.

Second, adults need to be attuned to positive avenues that youth could take - volunteering at a local youth center, taking up a sport, getting involved in school drama, learning to play a musical instrument, and so on. Remember, risk-taking doesn't have to be dramatic. Simply going beyond one's previous abilities represents a risk and can satisfy many youth's need for risk-taking if encouraged (an artistic youth may need encouragement to try a new medium; a shy youth who has an aptitude for languages , may need to be encouraged to use their skills in the community). It takes time to identify what talents or interests a youth might have and then challenge that youth to focus their energy to take risks in a positive way. But it's incredibly rewarding to see how a potential problem behavior becomes an asset for the youth and the community.

When risk behavior becomes problem behavior

For some young people, risk-taking behavior may indicate a problem that may threaten their well-being in the short and long term. It is very important that professionals understand the difference between normal experimentation and signs of problems or high-risk youth so that they can refer appropriate mental health professionals when needed. What are some signs that teens have crossed the line between normal experimentation and problematic behavior? Concern is justified when risky behaviors start early, e.g. B. at the age of 8 or 9 years, occur continuously rather than occasionally and usually occur in a social context of peers engaged in the same activities. In this case, consideration should be given to referring the adolescent and their family to a psychotherapist. Furthermore, if he or she engages in multiple risk behaviors, it can be a sign that a young person is in serious trouble and needs professional help (Lerner & Galambos, 1998). In fact, research has shown that serious problems tend to cluster among the same young people (Hamburg, 1997). Adolescents, who are at higher risk for serious negative outcomes, tend to engage in several problem behaviors at a young age, such as: Appreciation (Jessor, 1991; Lerner & Galambos, 1998).

The main problem areas of most concern to high-risk adolescents are alcohol and drug abuse; pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; school failure and dropping out; and crime, delinquency and violence. Information about the known risk factors for each of these issues is briefly summarized in the following sections. Because the protective factors are broadly the same for all problematic behaviors, these are discussed in the group after the problematic behaviors.

alcohol and drug abuse

It's difficult to draw the line between teenagers who are simply experimenting with alcohol and drugs and teenagers who have developed a drinking or drug problem. Often only a trained addiction professional can make that judgment. Teens who are early initiators of drug use who rely on alcohol and drugs to relieve anxiety or depression (“self-medication”), particularly when such use is shared by their friends, may be at higher risk than other teens, a developing substance abuse problem (Simons, Whitbeck, Conger & Melby, 1991).

Parental substance abuse, including alcohol abuse, is a risk factor for developing substance abuse problems in adolescents (Obot & Wagner, 2001), as are certain parenting and family management characteristics. These include lack of supervision or monitoring of youth, unclear expectations of youth behavior, and no (or infrequent) rewards for positive behavior (Barnes, Farrell, & Banerjee, 1995; Peterson, Hawkins, Abbott, & Catalano, 1994). Exposure to peer substance use and vulnerability to peer pressure may also increase risk of substance abuse, although some evidence suggests that this may be less of a factor for African-American youth (Barnes, Farrell, & Banerjee, 1994).

Pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases

Despite the recent decline in teenage pregnancy rates in the United States, teenage pregnancy and birth rates in that country remain among the highest of any developed country, largely due to disparities in contraceptive use (Boonstra, 2002; Moore et al., 2001). Pregnancy occurs when sexually active adolescents do not use contraception or do not use it effectively. Despite a dramatic increase in reported first-time contraceptive use (particularly condoms) by teens over the past two decades, last-sex contraceptive use has declined (Terry & Manlove, 2000). While an estimated 24% of teenage girls aged 15-19 say they did not use contraception the first time they had sex, 31% say they did not use contraception the last time they had sex. These numbers are higher among Hispanic women, of whom only 47% say they used contraception the last time they had sex. Thus, a significant number of sexually active teenage girls remain at risk of unwanted pregnancy.

Factors associated with delaying first sexual intercourse include being in a two-parent family, higher socioeconomic status, greater sense of religiosity, belief that parents or other adults care for adolescents, and high expectations of them and perform better in high school (Lammers, Ireland, Resnick & Blum, 2000). Other factors are associated with an increased risk of teenage pregnancy. Adolescents living in low-income, socially disorganized communities where family planning services are not readily available are at higher risk (Lerner & Galambos, 1998). Several studies have also found that girls are more likely to use birth control if they believe their parents will support this behavior (Balassone, 1991; Lerner & Galambos, 1998). Finally, having a sexual partner unwilling to use contraception increases risk, underscoring the need to discuss contraception in the context of communication within relationships.

Approximately 4 million teens contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) each year (Lee, 2000), with older Hispanic and African American youth tending to have higher rates of HIV/AIDS compared to other teen groups (Ross, 2000). Although adolescents have become their feelings or intuition about whether a person is "safe". If an adolescent likes and trusts a person and has known that person for a period of time, the adolescent may have a false sense of security about their risk for STDs and therefore feel that it is not necessary to use condoms for protection against sexually transmitted diseases (Jaffe, 1998; Thompson, Anderson, Freedman & Swan, 1996).

School failure and school dropout

Dropping out of school can be one of the most damaging actions young people can take, with potentially disastrous effects on their economic future. About 15% of students drop out of school each year, with higher rates among low-income students, particularly in large cities. Although the dropout rate for African Americans has declined in recent years, that for Hispanics has remained quite high -- about 36% of 18-24 year olds have not received a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate.

Some studies have found that different ethnic groups give different reasons for dropping out of school. In a national study, white teens who dropped out of school spoke primarily of feelings of alienation and alienation from school, getting along with teachers, and failing at school. On the other hand, Black and Hispanic teens cited the need to provide income for their families and help with younger children, while Black teens also cited suspension or expulsion as reasons for dropping out (Jordan, Lara, & McPartland, 1996). .

Crime, crime and violence

Qualitatively different patterns of crime and antisocial behavior (eg, shoplifting, drug use, or otherwise breaking the rules of society) have been identified (Moffitt, 1993). For the majority of adolescents who act out, their behavior reflects a gap between their biological and social maturity. Young people commit these acts impulsively, and when managed in a way that discourages them from these types of behaviors and gets them back on track, most cease all forms of these types of behaviors by adulthood (Moffitt, 1993).

This is not to say that the youth who commit these acts do not face further difficulties. For example, adolescents whose one-off antics have brought them into contact with seriously abusive adolescents may be influenced by those adolescents who reinforce their antisocial behavior (Dishion, McCord, & Paulin, 1999). But single acts, particularly those occurring in adolescence with no childhood history, are of less serious importance than multiple acts or acts following aggressive childhood behavior.

Another, much more serious pattern, termed "life-course persistent antisocial behavior," extends beyond adolescence. Typically, this pattern of behavior manifests itself in childhood through cruelty to animals and vulnerable children, and through antisocial acts at younger ages and more serious acts at older ages (eg, 14 or 14, robbery at 16 or 17) (Moffitt, 1993).

Many factors, including media violence, the availability of handguns, domestic and community violence, and the economically and socially impoverished communities in which many youth and their families live, can contribute to antisocial or violent behavior among youth. Living in poverty is a particularly strong risk factor for increasing the likelihood that an adolescent will engage in risky problem behavior (Lerner & Galambos, 1998; Perry, 2000).

protective factors and resilience

Just as there are a number of factors that can put young people at greater risk, there are also factors that can help protect young people from problems even in circumstances as adverse as poverty. The term 'resilience' is used to refer to achieving good outcomes despite serious threats to healthy development (Masten, 2001). Resilience can be promoted not only by reducing risk, but also by promoting skills and strengthening assets (Maton, Schellenbach, Leadbeater and Solarz, in press). While it is not necessary for all of these factors to be present for a youth to be resilient in the face of adversity, greater resilience tends to be associated with having more of these types of protective factors present.

Many psychologists warn against looking at resilience from an individual perspective. Instead, resilience should be seen as a function of developmental experiences grounded in a community context (Debold et al., 1999; Perry, 2000). Whether a community is able to offer the relationships, resources, and commitment needed to provide the type of support and developmental experiences that produce resilient youth depends on many factors, but primary is whether the needs of the youth take precedence.

Risky behaviors of adolescents

to smoke cigarettes

  • 70% of high school students have tried smoking, 25% before age 13
  • About a quarter of high school students smoke at least one cigarette a day, with male students smoking more than female students
  • Smoking is on the rise among girls; In 1991, one in eight girls in eighth grade reported smoking (13%), but in 1996 more than one in five reported smoking (21%) (Lee, 2000)

alcohol consumption

  • 81% of high school students have tried alcohol; 32% had their first drink before the age of 13
  • Half of all high school students reported having had more than one alcoholic drink in the past 30 days, and about 30% reported having had more than five alcoholic drinks at the same time during that period. Girls aged 12 to 18 now drink alcohol at the same rate as boys (Lee, 2000)
  • Male students are more likely than female students to report heavy sporadic drinking, as are students in the upper grades (11 and 12) compared to students in the lower grades (9 and 10).
  • 13% of college students have driven a vehicle after drinking alcohol more than once in the past month, with a significantly higher proportion of men than women. A third (33%) said they had driven with a driver who had been drinking more than once in the past month

Other drug use

  • 47% of high school students have tried marijuana, with men reporting such use more than women; 11% tried marijuana before the age of 13
  • 9% of high school students have used some form of cocaine, and 4% have used cocaine more than once in the past 30 days
  • 14% of college students have used inhalants to get high; 4% more than once in the last 30 days
  • 9% of high school students have used methamphetamines and about 4% have used steroids

Carrying guns, fighting and sexual violence

  • 17% of students have carried a weapon (e.g. a gun, knife or club) to school on one or more days in the last month, with boys carrying guns significantly more often than girls
  • Approximately 36% of high school students engaged in a physical fight one or more times over the 12 months, with male students (44%) being more likely than female students (27%) to be involved in a fight
  • In the past 12 months, about 9% of students have been intentionally hit or punched by their boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Approximately 9% of students have ever been forced to have sex without wanting to
  • Murder rates among black youth aged 10 to 14 are 3 to 4 times higher than among white youth (Ross, 2000)


  • Half of all high school students had intercourse, with 8% having intercourse before the age of 13 and 36% having intercourse within the past 3 months
  • 19% of male high school students report having had more than four sexual partners, as does 13% of female students
  • About 25% of sexually active students consumed alcohol or drugs during their last sexual intercourse
  • Among current sexually active high school students, 58% used a condom the last time they had sex, with men using a condom more often than women. Among sexually active female students, 20% say they take the pill


  • Approximately 6% of college students report having been pregnant or responsible for getting someone pregnant
  • Between 1991 and 2000, the pregnancy rate for girls aged 15–19 fell from 56.8 per 1,000 teenagers to 48.7 (Moore et al., 2001).

Failure to use motorcycle or bicycle helmets

  • Of the 24% of students who reported riding a motorcycle in the past year, 38% rarely or never wore a helmet. Of the 71% of students who ridden a bike in the past year, 85% rarely or never wore a helmet

Factors associated with resilience and positive outcomes

  • Stable, positive relationship with at least one caring adult
    Numerous studies have found that the presence of an adult—parent or other person—with a strong positive emotional attachment to the child is associated with resilience (Garbarino, 1999). This may be a teacher or coach, an extended family member, or a mentor, such as those found in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2000).
  • Religious and spiritual anchors
    A sense of purpose is one of the most important ways in which violent youth find their way into a constructive future, and religious and spiritual institutions and practices are important vehicles for developing a sense of purpose for these youth (Garbarino, 1999).
  • High, realistic academic expectations and appropriate support
    Schools that provide students with a sense of shared, collaborative responsibility and belonging, instill high expectations for participation, and provide high levels of individual support for students tend to increase resilience (Siedman et al., in press).
  • Positive family environment
    A warm, caring parenting style that both sets clear boundaries and respects adolescents' growing autonomy appears to be associated with adolescent resilience (Jessor, 1991; Lerner & Galambos, 1998). It has also been found that strong, positive mother-adolescent relationships are associated with resilience among adolescents when fathers are away from home (Mason, Cauce, Gonzales, & Hiraga, 1994).
  • Emotional intelligence and ability to deal with stress
    Although intelligence per se has been reported to be associated with resilience (Fergusson & Lynskey, 1996), emotional intelligence and coping skills are the factors that may be more important because they are more amenable to change and are also involved in resilience with stress (Garbarino , 1999).


we endAdolescent Development: A Reference forprofessionalswith a discussion on resilience because we believe all youth can be resilient when they have adults to educate and support them on their sometimes risky journey from adolescence to adulthood. Any professional working with young people can make a positive difference in their lives. All youth can be given the message that they are valuable, that there are people who care about them, and that resources are available to meet their needs.

Teenagers are creative, energetic and challenging. We hope that this publication has made their normal development path more understandable and that this understanding will help professionals in their daily work with them.


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(Video) 7 Ways to Make a Conversation With Anyone | Malavika Varadan | TEDxBITSPilaniDubai

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What are the three main factors that are important to adolescent development? ›

Adolescent development is characterized by biological, cognitive, and social changes.

What is adolescent development summary? ›

Adolescence is the developmental transition to adulthood that includes rapid changes in the brain and body, often at different rates and is a time for healthy exploration of identity and learning independence. It can also be a stressful or challenging for teens because of these rapid changes.

What is the importance of understanding adolescent development? ›

The adolescence stage of development is a critical time and is another opportunity for adults to support the continued development of youth and young adults. Understanding adolescent development can help supportive adults work with youth in a more productive manner and promote open lines of communication.

What are the 5 areas of adolescent development? ›

The fundamental purpose of these tasks is to form one's own identity and to prepare for adulthood.
  • Physical Development. Puberty is defined as the biological changes of adolescence. ...
  • Intellectual Development. ...
  • Emotional Development. ...
  • Social Development.

What is the most important part of adolescent development? ›

The most important task of social development in adolescence is the search for identity. This is often a lifelong voyage that launches during adolescence. Along with the search for identity comes the struggle for independence.

What are the most important developmental task of adolescent? ›

To develop career/vocational goals and ways to reach these goals; to be able to make a living. To develop an outlook toward life based on what is important. To participate as a responsible person with friends at home, and in the community; to develop personal moral values to guide behavior.

What is the impact of adolescent development? ›

Although adolescence may appear to be a turbulent time, it's also a period of great potential as young people engage more deeply with the world around them. Adolescents typically grow physically, try new activities, begin to think more critically, and develop more varied and complex relationships.

What influences adolescent development? ›

Research shows there are four main types of relationships that influence an adolescent: parents, peers, community, and society.

What is adolescence answer in one word? ›

Adolescence is the transitional phase of growth and development between childhood and adulthood. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an adolescent as any person between ages 10 and 19.

What are the two important skills that need to be developed in the adolescent in order to maintain good mental health? ›

Adolescence is a crucial period for developing social and emotional habits important for mental well-being. These include adopting healthy sleep patterns; exercising regularly; developing coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills; and learning to manage emotions.

What are the 4 main theories of adolescent development? ›

A theory of adolescent development usually can be attributed to one of four major fundamental schemes: psychoanalytic theory; cognitive theory; learning theory; and ecological, contextual theory.

What are the three challenges of adolescence? ›

The common teenage problems that teenagers face today are usually related to: Self-Esteem and Body Image. Stress. Bullying.

What are the 5 challenges of adolescence? ›

The most common mental health disorders observed during adolescence are anxiety and mood disorders. Social phobias and panic disorders are common among this age group. Girls may tend to have more vulnerability to develop depressive disorders than boys (5). Teenagers may have self-esteem or confidence issues.

What are the 2 major developmental tasks in adolescence? ›

An adolescent has four tasks to accomplish to become a well-adjusted adult. These tasks are categorized as: 1) independence, 2) body image, 3) peer relations, and 4) identity.

What is adolescent in simple words? ›

: a young person who is developing into an adult : one who is in the state of adolescence. adolescent.

What is the reference of adolescence? ›

Quick Reference

the stage of development between childhood and adulthood. It begins with the start of puberty, which in girls is usually at the age of 12–13 years and in boys about 14 years, and usually lasts until 19 years of age.

What are 2 factors that contribute to positive adolescent adjustment and development? ›

Social and emotional factors such as emotional competence and self-esteem are protective factors that promote adolescent mental health and well-being.

What is the most essential skill that adolescent must learn that will be useful in their adulthood? ›

1. Managing Time. Possibly the most important skill for young adults to master as they become increasingly independent is time management.

What are your top 3 skills development priorities? ›

Jun 22, 2013

What are the 7 stages of adolescence? ›

In her book, Damour describes seven stages in a girl's life: parting with childhood; joining a new tribe; harnessing emotions; contending with adult authority; planning for the future; entering the romantic world; and caring for herself. Each stage is brought to life through research, anecdotes and analysis.

Who define the 3 stages of adolescence? ›

Each child is different, but you can generally expect the following changes during the three stages of adolescence as outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Each stage is separated into lists of both physical and mental/emotional changes.

Which behavior is most characteristic of early adolescence? ›

Early adolescents have concrete, black-and-white thinking.

It is normal at this stage for young people to center their thinking on themselves (called "egocentrism"). As part of this, preteens and early teens are often self-conscious about their appearance and feel as though they are always being judged by their peers.

What is the most difficult part of adolescence? ›

Decisions about career, sex, drugs and alcohol are usually some of the toughest decisions you will have to make as an adolescent. Before you make decisions, get facts about each choice, think properly about them, i.e. weigh the pros and cons; and discuss available options with your parents, a trusted friend or adult.

What is the most common problem of adolescence? ›

Main health issues
  • Injuries. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among adolescents. ...
  • Violence. ...
  • Mental health. ...
  • Alcohol and drug use. ...
  • Tobacco use. ...
  • HIV/AIDS. ...
  • Other infectious diseases. ...
  • Early pregnancy and childbirth.
Aug 10, 2022

What is the main problem of adolescent *? ›

Adolescents' most prevalent issues are growth and development, school, childhood illnesses that persist into adolescence, and mental health concerns.

What are the major causes of conflict in adolescence? ›

Conflict happens because your child is becoming an independent and responsible young person with their own perspective and preferences. You can expect to disagree about things like what your child wears, what they do with their time, or whether they follow your cultural traditions.

What are some examples of adolescent development? ›

During adolescence, children develop the ability to:
  • Understand abstract ideas. ...
  • Establish and maintain satisfying relationships. ...
  • Move toward a more mature sense of themselves and their purpose.
  • Question old values without losing their identity.
Feb 2, 2021

What are 10 characteristics of adolescence? ›

  • Searching for identity, influenced by gender, peer group, cultural background and family expectations.
  • Seeking more independence.
  • Looking for new experiences. ...
  • Thinking more about 'right' and 'wrong'.
  • Influenced more by friends' behaviour- sense of self and self-esteem.

What are the 5 main changes in thinking cognition that occur in adolescence? ›

Late Adolescence

Develops idealistic views on specific topics or concerns. Debates and develops intolerance of opposing views. Begins to focus thinking on making career decisions. Begins to focus thinking on emerging role in adult society.


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