In this paper I plan to discuss the developmental stages of adolescence. Adolescents are also referred to as "teenagers" or "young adults." Adolescence begins after the childhood stage and ends right before adulthood. The years of adolescence range from 12 years old to 21 years old. The years of adolescence can be quite a roller coaster ride. Young people in this stage encounter a great deal of changes in their life as they prepare for adulthood. I will discuss emotional, intellectual, physiological, and social domains of development and how it relates to adolescents. I will also discuss some helpful tips for teachers to aide in communicating effectively to adolescents and understanding their development.
As I stated above, adolescence is a stage in a young person's life where a great deal 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 (Child and Adolescent Behavior, pg. 196). 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.
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. During the 2004-2005 school year, I worked as a Title I aide. I had the opportunity to work with a wide range age of children. Many of the sixth graders I worked with were at the beginning of their adolescent stage. I found it quite interesting to see how many of the girls were taller and beginning to develop the features of women. One example in particular that left me in amazement was when I was observing a physical education class. The students were engaging in relay races. I was shocked to see that many of the girls were faster than the boys. As a matter of fact, the three fastest students in the class were girls. After witnessing that, I am completely convinced that girls begin to mature and develop earlier than boys.
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 weight (just to name a few) become an issue. The reason for this is because young people are concerned with how others perceive them.
In the adolescent stage being in the "in" crowd is a major concern for young people. Young people feel the need to be accepted by their peers as they pursue to discover their identity. Erikson describes it as a stage of confusion. He believes that young people temporarily over-identify to keep themselves together (Child and Adolescence Behavior, pg. 196). They do this to the point of apparent complete loss of identity, with heroes of cliques and crowds...They become remarkably clannish, intolerant, and cruel in their exclusion of others who are "different," in skin color or cultural background... and often in entirely petty aspects of dress and gesture arbitrarily selected as the signs of an in-grouper or out-grouper (Child and Adolescent Behavior, pg. 196).
Puberty also has an effect in the hormones of...