I am going to discuss the factors affecting young people during adolescent development. I will be exploring the physical and physiological, psychological, and social impact of change in adolescent, and the theories relating to the stages of development and identity formation.
Adolescence is the period of transition to adulthood. The first thing I am going to consider is the physical and physiological changes associated with adolescence. During this time a young person will experience physical and emotional changes. This can take 5 years or more and is a long process.
At this period of rapid growth and sexual development in adolescence is called puberty. Growth and development of the body is controlled by chemicals called hormones. There is an increase in strength and height which if it occurs quickly it may cause the young person to have balance and co-ordination difficulties. It is difficult to determine specific times when the developmental changes occur; these will differ from person to person. However girls develop approximately two years earlier than boys. In girls during this period menstruation begins and physical changes happen such as breasts, pubic hair, body hair and sexual organs begin to grow. Changes In boys, pubic hair, facial hair and body hair begin to grow, including sexual organs testes and penis. The testosterone increasing sexual urges and erections, the pituary gland is responsible for releasing the hormones which have an effect on boys and girls.
Hormones have a significant effect on young people; the signs may be changes in attitude and behaviour. A young person may experience feelings of anxiety, confusion, delusion, anger, frustration, fear, stress and humiliation. They may have a low opinion of themselves and their abilities and have anger they don’t know how to express in a productive way. Additional factors include culture expectations, peer pressure, pressure to achieve and there may be relationship issues with parents including conflict. Young people are searching for their own identity as well as pressure from the media and stereotypes formed by society and their environment. Some young people may have to face personal transitions not necessarily shared or understood by all their peers. These include family illness bereavement, divorce and family break up; issues relating to sexuality, disability and many more.
Using the theory in practice I feel that I am using effective communication like listening, observation, empathy, and reflection increasing my knowledge and understanding of groups. One of the theory’s by Bruce Tuckman was “encouraging engagement involving and consulting with young people and considering their opinions, views, interests and issues that affect them” promoting the 4 corner stone’s of youth work. I have identified some possible changes in gender in specific to groups in relation to adolescence. Some of the things I have become more aware during formal discussions in key topics of interest are opposite sex, drugs, culture and family break ups, the perceptions of them by the media and their peers, their body image and comparisons with celebrities on TV.I have identified opportunities to discuss and provide information on these issues offering workshops and group activities using different outside agencies with their specialist knowledge. One of the workshops was on drugs and a young person told us about their experiment with drugs and reflected on his feelings and choice. I communicated to him and praised him for being brave; he had identified how he had been influenced by his friends in to taking drugs. I could relate to this issue and can understand that sometimes there is a need to experiment and to feel part off the group it can influence your actions and choices.
Social development in adolescence and identity formation is a new way of thinking about oneself. According to Erikson’s “psychosocial model of development identity must be perceived by the individual but also recognized and confirmed by others”. He believed this socialization process consists of eight phases are universal, and each stage is associated with their own unique developmental crisis. The crisis is an individual is thought to face in adolescence stage 5, 12 to 18 years is that of identity vs. role confusion. The individual will answer the question “Who am I?” peer relationships play an important role in this event. The individual must achieve a sense of identity in occupation, sex roles, politics and religion finding their own niche in adult society and developing a set of long term goals for the future.
As suggested by Erikson and research peers become important, adolescents share in common the state of confusion, similar experiences, and feelings of loneliness, conflict with parents or authority, and a lack of identity so often transfer some of their emotional dependency from their parents to their peers. Young people are seeking role models and will imitate and copy behaviour and identity, until they eventually become more stable from their own identity that fits them as an individual. There can be pressures to fit in and be accepted some may become less interested in academic achievement and may engage in illicit behaviour such as drinking , having sexual relationships ,crime and drug use. Peer groups are often perceived by the media and society in a stereotypical, negative manner with frequent references to anti – social behaviour, gun/knife crime, poor educational achievement and teenage pregnancies. The media ,music ,sports ,celebrities has an effect on the way a young person perceives themselves in society and who they identify as role models , they may become more self – conscious of their body image (media portrays image of beauty and perfection ) develop low self – esteem and adopt materialistic or unrealistic goals for the future.
In summary adolescences is the period of transition to adulthood. The young person will experience physical and emotional changes which can be quite a long painful process. Identity development is associated with adolescence as suggested by Erikson a sense of identity is not yet fully developed. A firmly established identity also provides a sense of uniqueness as a person .Young people see and experience the world in different ways; they have individual situations and developmental issues. It is important to consider issues of the effects of peer pressure, the media, role models, perceptions by society and appreciate the huge impact of changes on adolescent development. Reflecting on your own experiences and others perspectives enables you to challenge your thinking and engage with young people to reach their own decision , value their own personal experiences by offering support, reassurance in a proactive way to encourage their transition into adult life to achieve a sense of identity, purpose and goal in their life .