Adolescence represents a period of intensive growth and change in nearly all aspects of a child’s physical, mental, social and emotional life. Adolescence has been described by Hall(2005) as ‘the period of storm and stress of human life’. It is a very crucial period of one’s life which covers roughly from 10-20+ years. The most important fact about adolescence is that it is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood. Transition from one period to another always is associated with some problems. Adolescence is not an exception and it is also associated with some problems.
Adolescence can be classified in three stages: (see Appendix 1)
Early adolescence ( 10-14 years old)
Mid adolescence ( 15-19 years old)
Late adolescence ( 20-24 years old)
In this transitional period, the child reaches a degree of maturation. It could be pre, during or post. During puberty, the adolescent undergoes physical, mental, moral, spiritual, sexual and social changes. This is the time where they discover the physical changes in their bodies. Physical growth is one of the biggest changes in the teenage years. But there are also huge changes in ways of thinking, relationships and sense of identity. These can take longer to complete.
1.1 Dealing with body changes
The amazing hormonal and physical changes of adolescence are a challenging experience. Teenagers often become self-conscious or private about their bodies. They become aware of their sexuality, and this starts to show in their relationships with others.
1.2 Intense friendships
Friendships become more important and more intense for adolescents. Teenagers can have a huge desire for lots of contact with friends. They may want to be on the phone or Facebook with their friends all night, for example, even when they have seen them all day. Pulling away from parents and towards friends is a normal, healthy part of psychological development in adolescence.
1.3 Thinking for themselves
Adolescents start to form their own opinions and views. They may not be the same as yours. They may express disagreement and anger at you as they try to work out what they think about things. It can be a shock for parents to have their son or daughter speaking their own mind and challenging parents’ views, but it is a normal part of adolescent development.
1.4 Critical of family
As they learn to think for themselves, young people may decide there are aspects of their upbringing they do not like. Often they are wrong or hurtful in what they say about family life while they are going through this phase of separation. Sometimes, however, what they say may have some truth, and this can cause conflict or hurt.
Young people experiment with different identities. They will often try on “different hats” to see which one best fits. They try out different styles in hair and clothes, taste in music and other ‘identities’. They take up new activities and drop old favourites. They may change friends. Experimenting may involve risky behaviour like drug use, alcoholic drinks or inappropriate sexual activity. Risk taking behaviour is part of adolescence, but some of these behaviours may be unsafe and/or not okay. Parents need to do what they can to help their young people keep safe.
1.6 Shutting parents out
Adolescence is a time of many changes; strong feelings and mood swings are common. When your children were little, they came to you for comfort or help at these times. Now they may try to deal with these feelings by themselves, or turn to friends for support. It can be especially hard for parents when they feel shut out and unable to help.
1.7 Self absorption
Adolescents are working hard to develop themselves as individuals. This may lead them to be quite self-absorbed. By adult standards they can be selfish and inconsiderate – but they should not be judged by adult standards, yet.
In trying to transform parent-child relationships, and manage lots of changes and challenges, young people can experience a lot of anger. Anger is a necessary and healthy human feeling: it lets you know when something is not right and helps you strengthen yourself. But anger needs to be expressed in a safe and useful way – without violence.
Changing relationships with parents
In addition to learning to know themselves, adolescents also need to move from childhood, when their parents controlled most of their behavior, to adulthood, where they will be responsible for themselves. To do so, they need to be able to make their own decisions and face the consequences. It is during this struggle for identity and autonomy that many teenagers and their parents experience increased conflict.
I believe that for teachers to effectively teach and understand students, the need to identify developmental behavior is a necessity.
The developmental challenges faced by my students are:
Due to these changes, the adolescent becomes conscious of the physical body changes taking place. They are worried about their looks due to manifested physical changes and also fear about the opinion and the reactions of their peers and adults.
Children tend to show variation in entering the puberty growth spurt. Some children attain puberty earlier and some lag behind. There are various reasons for this such as nutrition, heredity and environment.
These differences mean that some individuals who may have first entered puberty may mature before others of the same age. The early mature begin to feel uncomfortable among the peers and late mature are also worried about their identity in the group. If a child lags behind then he tends to be bullied by his peers and is treated as a small child by his clan.
I have noticed that a majority of my students are often extremely sensitive and perceptive about their own physical appearance and that of their friends. The discrepancies between their less than perfect self-images and the glossy ideals that they are supposed to emulate are a real source of anxiety.
Hence at school level, physical education is compulsory. There is also monthly medical check-up for the form 3 students. Management also has included “Zumba” classes for the girls and there also activities like Martial Arts, Educational Boxing and Archery for both boys and girls during their activity classes. And there are a number of students who have been awarded medals at national level in the respective disciplines.
Social – development
During adolescence individuals face a crisis of identity and role confusion. They pay great attention on how other people view them. They experiment with roles. They attempt to find out what kind of person they are and they adapt the characteristics of other people to see if their characteristics fit them.
Adolescent behaviour is characterised by egocentrism and autonomy. The physical changes coupled with the new thinking abilities, make them over conscious and they tend to become self-centered. As the adolescents begin to socialize, they desire autonomy that should be emotional, behavioural and of values.
It is a period of social development and adjustment. In this stage, the child enters a new field of social responsibilities. The adolescents become socially conscious, self-assertive and loyal towards their group; they develop cooperation and friendship and become responsible.
As such at school levels excursions and field trips are organized. These lead to informal conversations and close contact between members of the group. Group games, debates, seminars and conference are also organised. These help the adolescents participate in social activities.
As a teacher I try to find out the socio-economic conditions, social interests of every adolescent and organise various activities accordingly.
They should be entrusted with jobs of responsibility at home and at school as they grow-up. Self development has been introduced in school to develop a feeling of responsibility among the adolescents.
Traditionally, adolescence has been thought of as a period of heightened emotionality resulting from glandular and other changes. The heightening is characterized by high degree of instability. The adolescents also develop dependency and sometime independency. They also develop some special feelings like – pride, humility, curiosity, guilt, hero- worshipping. All these emotions must be properly guided and they should be provided knowledge to control their emotions at this stage.
Parents and teachers must be able to redirect the emotions of the adolescents in a proper manner. The adolescent must be able to control his emotions and also to repress those emotions which are not socially acceptable.
Most of the adolescents accept problems of life in a negative way. They are afraid of facing difficult situations in life. Parents and teachers should encourage the adolescents and point out some of their plus points. They may also suggest means and methods of achieving success. This will restore the self-confidence of the adolescents.
It should be brought into the notice of the adolescent that life is a mixture of failure and success and he must build a power of resistance to face failure in life.
The adolescent has to face a large number of problems at this stage. As such, proper guidance and counseling should be provided by parents, teachers and school guidance counselor.
Parents and teachers should treat the adolescent well. They should give him freedom of action within limit. The adolescent should be kept busy with various activities.
The teacher should try to develop maturity of thinking within the child. The adolescent must be allowed to discuss their emotional problems with their parents and teachers. And they must be provided enough scope to take part in different activities in school.
The teacher should try to find out those students who are emotionally disturbed. They should
try to solve their problems personally.
The teacher should not discriminate among the adolescents. The teacher must be known for his impartiality. Then only will he be able to enjoy the confidence of his students.