Adolescence is the period of transition from childhood to adulthood, which is between 13 to 20 years of age. The term “adolescent” refers to the arraignment of psychological maturity. Puberty, on the other hand, refer to the stage wherein adolescents become physically and biologically ready for reproduction. Most people refer to this stage as a period that is highly stressful and volatile although teenagers nowadays successfully meet these challenges. Every individual is born into a family with several generations of cultural traditions, norms and social patters.
They belong to a specific family, race and community with its own language and religion. The social setting with which the child is brought up may have an effect on his growth and development, including his ability to think, his emotions as well as the behavior he exhibits. Children fundamentally learn through the adult’s modeling and instructions. Social settings include the child’s home, the school, the community at large, as well as religious organizations. Positive relationships with family members serve to protect individuals from the risk of negative behaviors.
These relationships provide as secure and fundamental base for which individuals learn to grow and develop positively. The family exerts a considerable influence on shaping the individuals concept of self and his outlook towards those outside the family. The family serves as role models so that the child learns which behaviors are socially acceptable, the enhancement of relationship skills as well as maintaining effective communication patterns. In addition, conflicts within the family that are effectively resolved are also important since the child will be using these as the basis during his dealings with those outside the family
According to Piaget, changes occurring inside the individual’s mind as well as his broadening exposure to various social settings allow the adolescent to achieve the highest level in terms of intellectual development, which is known as formal operations. The adolescent develops the ability to determine possibilities, rank possibilities, solve problems and make decisions through logical operations. The teenager has the ability for abstract thought and is able to effectively answer questions or problems that may be hypothetical in nature.
Adolescents have the capacity to reason with respect to possibilities and new cognitive powers allow the adolescent to do more far-reaching problem solving including their future and that of others. Although adolescents have the capacity to think as well as an adult, they lack experiences on which to build their decisions which may also result in conflicts between teens and their parents. Piaget acknowledged that biological maturation plays a role in this developmental theory but believed that rates of development depend upon the intellectual stimulation and challenge in the child’s environment.
An adolescent may perform at different levels in different situations based on past experiences, formal education, and motivation in the use of logic and effective deductive reasoning. Erik Erikson established the psychosocial development of human beings that consists of eight stages starting from infancy until the late adult stage. During each stage of psychosocial development, the individual is confronted with several challenges that he must master and be able to successfully master the conflicts within each stage as the inability to do so would result to future problems.
The major task of adolescent psychosocial development according to Erikson is the search for personal identity. Teenagers may become isolated socially during their inability to establish close relationships within their social environment. The primary danger of this stage is identity versus role confusion. Adolescents work at becoming socially independent from their parents while retaining family ties. Furthermore, they need to develop their own ethical systems based on their own personal values and principles.
Choices, especially regarding lifestyle, vocation and future education must be made by the adolescent. Indecisiveness and the inability to make an occupational choice are behaviors indicating negative resolution of the developmental task at hand. According to Kohlberg’s Moral Developmental Theory, adolescents are at the “Post Conventional Level” wherein individuals find a balance between basic human rights and obligations and societal rules and regulations in this level. Individuals move away from moral decisions based on authority or conformity to groups to define their own moral values and principles.
Individuals at this stage start to look at what an ideal society would be like. Under this Level, are 2 stages namely: Social Contract Orientation and Universal Ethical Principle Orientation. Under social contract orientation, an individual may follow societal law but he recognizes the possibility of changing the law to improve society. The individual may also recognize that different societal groups may have differing views as well as values although they may be in agreement on several fundamental concepts such liberty and life.
On the other hand, the universal ethical principle orientation defines the “right” by decision of conscience with self chosen ethical principles. Kohlberg himself questioned this stage because he found out that very few subjects reasoned at this stage and thus termed it a “theoretical” stage.
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