Development of the adolescent

During adolescence children develop into independent people. The development of secondary sexual characteristics stresses their identity as male or female, but adolescents have yet to grow into either role. The adolescent does not usually feel completely at home in his or her own body, and movements often appear somewhat clumsy and loutish.

Besides the physical changes, new demands are put on the adolescent at school, fostering a gradual independence in both thought and action.

Psychological changes may be radical, and cause emotional difficulties.

Literally and figuratively the adolescent creates his or her own world, which is ‘out of bounds’ for the parents.

It is necessary for the adolescent to experiment in many areas and, in order to develop his or her own psychological independence, he or she may strenuously oppose parental opinion. Perhaps because the psychological development requires so much energy, adolescents often just ‘hang around’, show little initiative and are often tired without apparent cause.

It is sometimes difficult for parents to define their own attitude and to find a compromise between what is and what is not accepted behaviour.

Quarrels are largely inevitable, especially because adolescents are often unreasonable. More often than not arguments flare up because the adolescent no longer wishes to be treated as a child, but as an ‘equal’.

And, certainly, even though he or she is not really quite an equal, the adolescent should be treated as such during this stage.