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Understanding Teenage

When a child becomes an adolescent

Adolescence is a very critical stage in human development. It is the time when body changes significantly and sex hormones surge starting from puberty. It is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood. During adolescence, there is a shift from interests and activities of childhood towards more adult-like interests. Peer relationships change and adolescents are more attached to their friends. The individual seeks more autonomy in decision-making. The adolescent develops various intellectual pursuits. Teenagers seek social belonging to a group and build strong ties with its members. Adolescence is largely a time of exploration and discovering the world and personal potentials. It is a time of making choices.

The concept of self evolves gradually toward a complete image of self. The adolescent is a mature adult in shaping with increasing power and ability for mastery over new diverse challenges. The challenges involve academic achievement, becoming popular and successful in interpersonal relationships and getting involved emotionally with the other sex. Teenagers search for new interests, talents and social identity.

Eric Erickson is a famous psychologist who studied development of personality and identified different stages during which humans develop up to maturity. Eric Erickson describes adolescence as a stage of development during which humans try to build a personal identity. The stages of development described by Erickson come in the form of two opposites. Adolescence is characterised by Erickson as a stage of development of identity versus role confusion. The teenager tries to find a role in society and among his peers. He or she tries to compare themselves to others of the same age and to the grown-up people.

In building up their ego identity as described by Erickson, teenagers integrate their experiences of the past with the current changes occurring in their body and mind. Adolescence is a stage of exploration and testing the limits of self and reality. Teenagers sometimes become fans of pop stars or political figures. They try to build a self-image, which is different from their parents, and make them distinguished from their peers. When they feel accepted by their peers, their absorption into Idol worship becomes less intense. Some teenagers may experience serious emotional problems when they are isolated socially from a suitable peer group. When socially isolated and rejected by his peer group, a teenager becomes more intensely identified with an Idol figure to the exclusion of his other activities and tasks.

Erickson describes identity crisis as a normal pathway for development of a teenager. The teenager uses various alternative styles of behaviour and experiment with new challenges and then integrates all this into a new firm identity. If a teenager fails in building a solid cohesive identity, the result is identity confusion or role diffusion, which appears as lack of confidence and difficulty in integrating into social life. Adolescence is a critical time in the life of every individual. It is a time when we start to attach to peers, explore new ideas and beliefs, choose a different style of life from that lived by our parents, fall in love and live our new sexual identity, and it is a time when our creativity develops.

In most adolescents, the process passes on peacefully and ends in a good degree of adaptation. After passing through a number of hurdles and coping with characteristic milestones 75 percent of youth adapt successfully to the physical, cognitive, and emotional changes and build on their previous abilities and skills. In 20 Percent of adolescents various problems appear. Some teenagers show psychological maladjustment and self-loathing, others display evidence of disturbance of conduct. Substance abuse, mood disorders, and other mental disorders may start to show during this period.

The stages of development are continuous. Therefore, children who has psychological disturbance in early years are more likely to show emotional and mental problems in adolescence. Adolescents with mental health problems are probably in greater conflicts with their families. Still, adolescents who experience distress and emotional symptoms function well in their study and in relationship with peers.

The majority of adolescents go through this critical developmental stage of human life without problems. They go through it with optimism and hope for the future. They build up a solid identity with good self-esteem and confidence in self. They enjoy stable and good peer relationship and a satisfying relationship with the opposite sex. They continue to keep a peaceful and harmonious relationship with their families. However, a small group of teenagers may have trouble and cause conflicts with their families and society. They may experience emotional turmoil and interpersonal conflicts. Their self-image and identity may be shaky and confused which leaves its impact on their life throughout the following years.

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