Adolescence: A Period of Changes

Adolescence is a tricky period of existence, which presents developmental challenges across the emotional, physical, and social dimensions of the lives of young people.

Most adolescents have a very self-critical eye, and they can be absolutely focused on their physicality. They have a hyper-interest in how they are being perceived and ‘judged’ by others. This is an important stage of identity building and it is complicated by the fact that they are undergoing significant physical changes and often feel out of control.

This can result in them finding fault with themselves and all sorts of unbalanced behaviors can ensue, including some disorders, through to substance abuse with steroids. Lack of control over undesired or awkward physical changes can cause a great deal of stress.

Assessment can be an extremely stressful time. It seems exams are here to stay, but it truly is not the end of the world if grades take a plunge. No need to stress, the way toward their dream job can be quite a convoluted and surprising one.

Parents, schools, and teachers that overemphasize the place of examination results, or even school grades over the long term, can seed long-term negative self-efficacy and belief in young people. In the short term though, exam stress is real and has become a feature of senior schooling.

Young people find it hard to imagine life beyond school so it can be very confronting to be constantly asked what next, what career, and why. We can lessen the stress by reminding them that time is on their side and showing adolescents the many pathways that are available to them to gently work their way into their careers.

During adolescence, thinking associated with planning is particularly challenged as the stage is marked by significant physical reconstruction of neuronal resources associated with decision-making.

Adolescence coincides with dramatic physical changes, hormonal fluctuations, and just plain growth spurts; it’s hard physical work and can be exhausting. The sleep will provide them with mental downtime to assist them with the neural construction work going on in their brains. However, sleep is magical, and adolescents benefit from feeding their call to sleep whenever they can.

Friends frame the identity for adolescents. Individuals try to establish themselves as successful and independent. It is a time to break free from their parents. However, they still need guidance and support, and without it, can feel very anxious and helpless. Finding ways to establish positive high energy and interactive role model relationships with an adult other than a parent can help them.

Teachers and parents are often challenged by the behaviors and attitudes of the adolescents in their lives. However, they do have a role to help adolescents to travel through the difficult transitions that present themselves for their physical, social, and emotional selves. Listen and watch their behavior. Give them space, privacy, and permission to create themselves, close at hand to support, but at arm’s length.