Puberty: Developmental Stages of Adolescents
As stated above, adolescence is a stage in a young person's life where great deals of changes take place. In early adolescence a young person begins puberty. Puberty brings on many changes physically, intellectually, and emotionally. From our required readings I have learned that Erikson argued that the child's early sense of identity comes partly "unglued" because of the combination of rapid body growth and the sexual changes of puberty (Bee, 2000). It is during this phase that a young person makes the transition from a child to an adult. During this stage Erikson refers to the identity of adolescents as going through a crisis. He refers to the crisis of adolescents as a stage of identity verses role confusion.
The first approach that will help explain the pattern of development in adolescence is through the physical development stage. Physical development involves the bodily changes that adolescence has when they approach the puberty stage. Puberty is often referred to as "a period of rapid skeletal and sexual maturation that occurs mainly in early adolescence" (American Psychological Association, 2002). During the puberty stage, female and male individuals undergo several changes suitable for their physical stature and composition. Puberty among girls usually begins at age 9 to 12, while boys begin at age 11 to 14. Changes include growth of hair in the genital areas and under arms of both males and females. Body proportions also change with females developing bigger hips and breasts, ovulation, and menstrual cycle begins. Males, meanwhile, start producing sperm, erections and ejaculations, wet dreams, and darkening of the scrotum.
Puberty begins with a surge in hormone production, which, in turn, causes a number of physical changes. The most startling change during puberty is the acceleration in growth known as the adult growth spurt. During puberty, the reproductive organs in both sexes mature, and secondary sex characteristics appear (American Psychological Association, 2002). The major landmark of puberty for males is the first ejaculation, which occurs, on average, at age 13. For females, it is menarche, the onset of menstruation, which occurs, on average between ages 12 and 13.
The timing of puberty can have important psychological and social consequences. Early-maturing boys, taller and stronger than their classmates, have an advantage in sports and in capturing attention from girls. They are likely to have a positive body image, to feel confident, secure, independent, and happy, and to be successful academically as well. Late-maturing boys often show the opposite effects; poor body image, less confidence, and so on. For girls, early maturation brings increases self-consciousness and, often, dissatisfaction with their developing bodies (American Psychological Association, 2002). Consequently, early maturing girls are more likely than their peers to develop bulimia and other eating disorders. In addition, they may have to deal with the sexual advances of older boys before they are emotionally or psychologically mature. Early-maturing girls are more likely to be exposed to alcohol and drug use. Every person develops and grows differently. There is no set age for when puberty begins or ends. Generally, the girls start to mature earlier than the boys. Physically, the girls have their growth spurt first and begin to develop the characteristics and features of a woman. In the early stages of adolescence, young people are really concerned with their appearance and being accepted. Their "social life" becomes a top priority. It is in this stage that young people develop concerns about their clothes, physical appearance, and image. Now all of the sudden the clothes must have a designer logo or label on them. Now young people look in the mirror and begin to grow very critical of what they see. The affects of puberty like acne, facial hair, and...
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