You are on page 1of 28

Adolescent Development

*Developed by the Center for School Mental Health (http://csmh.umaryland.edu)
in collaboration with the Maryland School Mental Health Alliance (http://www.msmha.org).

Introduction
Adolescents make up approximately 36-40 million
people in the US (13.9%) ¹
The term adolescence comes from the Latin verb
adolescere, which means “to go into adulthood.”
Transition between childhood and adulthood
– From about the ages of 11-19
Adolescence is a period of rapid physical, cognitive, Physical
sexual, social and emotional changes.
It is an adjustment period for the adolescent,
their parents, and those who are in
Emotiona
frequent contact with them.
l
¹

Sexual

Cognitive

Social

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Simple Facts
Highlights ² :
-The U.S. adolescent population is rapidly growing.
-The adolescent population is more racially/ethnically diverse than
the general population.
-The Hispanic and Asian populations are expected to increase 10%
by the year 2025
-Black and Hispanic youth experience poverty at a higher rate than
their peers

² http://nahic.ucsf.edu//downloads/Demographics.pdf

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

More Facts
More adolescents live in suburbs than in rural areas and central
cities.
Two thirds of adolescents ages 12-17 live with both parents.
Maryland’s Grade 8 Reading level is slightly higher than the
national average. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/stateprofiles/sresult.asp?mode=short&s1=24
Between 2001–02 and 2013–14, the number of high school
graduates is projected to increase nationally by 10 percent. The
state of Maryland is projected to have a 6.6 % increase . Institute of
Educational Services

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Important Statistics
Young Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 are still contracting
HIV at the rate of 2 per hour. Office of Natural AIDS Policy
Every year 3 million teens--about 1 in 4 sexually active teens -- get a
sexually transmitted disease (STD).
American Social Health Administration

One-third of all smokers had their first cigarette by the age of 14. Ninety
percent of all smokers begin before the age of 21. American Lung Association
Individuals who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more
likely to become alcohol dependent than those who begin drinking at
age 21.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youths ages 15 to 20.
National Center for Health Statistics

http://www.sadd.org/stats.htm

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

What is “normal” difficult
behavior?
Developmental Goal during Adolescence: The child develops
self identity and the capacity for intimacy.
“Normal” Difficult Behavior
Moodiness
Less affection shown to parents
Greatly influenced by peers
Preoccupation with sex
Masturbation
Very occasional experimentation
with cigarettes or alcohol
Extremely self-involved
Self- conscious
Involvement with cliques

http://www.health-ed-consultants.org/core.htm

Cries for Help
Regular use of alcohol and/or other
drugs
Sexual promiscuity
Lying or stealing
Destructive or delinquent behavior
Poor school behavior
Persistent Negative attitude
Frequent temper outbursts
Extreme fear of leaving home
Self- Mutilation
Suicidal ideas or suicide attempt

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

What can we do?
Knowledge about what changes and behaviors during
adolescence are normal can go a long way in helping both
teens and adults manage the transition successfully:
– Don’t criticize or compare teens to others
– Encourage them to get enough sleep
– Model and encourage healthy eating habits and physical
activities
– Be understanding about their needs for space and
privacy
– Provide honest and accurate information about sex
– Be patient of excessive time spent grooming

http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/family/350-850/350-850.html

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Ten Tips for Parents
1.

Educate yourself about adolescent development.

2.

Talk to your children about the changes that they will
experience during this time.

3.

Create an atmosphere of respect, trust and honesty.

4.

Put your self in your child’s place. Sharing your
experiences as a teen may help your child.

5.

Pick your battles. Ask yourself, “Is this battle worth
fighting?”

Adapted from Kid Smart PACE (Parenting and Consumer Education)
Retrieved November 2, 2006

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Ten Tips for Parents
6.

Maintain your level of expectations for your teen. Don’t
write off negative behavior with “He’s just a teen”

7.

Know your teen’s friends and keep track of their activities.

8.

Know the warning signs when risky behavior becomes
dangerous behavior.

9.

Respect your teen’s privacy. You have a right to know what
is going on with your teen but give him/her a little space.

10. Set boundaries and make rules that are appropriate.
Adapted from: Kid Smart PACE (Parenting and Consumer Education)
Retrieved November 2, 2006

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Adolescent Development

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Physical Development
Onset of puberty begins the physical
development of children



Puberty should take 3-6 years to complete
Growth Spurt
Secondary sex characteristics develop
Menstruation and hormonal changes

Teens may sleep more
Exercise to reinforce learning

http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/family/350-850/350-850.htm l

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Cognitive Development
Adolescence appears to begin with a series
of changes in cognitive ability
Thinking and reasoning

Developing abstract thinking skills.
Systematic searching for solutions

http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/family/350-850/350-850.html

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Cognitive Development
Ability to reason about hypothetical
problems
Intellectual interests expand and gain in
importance
Developing the ability to think about
thinking in a process known as "metacognition
Think about how they feel and what they are
thinking
http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/family/350-850/350-850.html

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Social Development
Greater autonomy and less dependence on
parents.
Need increased age-appropriate independence and
freedom
Parental support is still necessary

– Relationship with parents changes in three ways:
1. As cognitive ability increases, their perceptions of

parents change. Now, view them as individuals as well as
parents
2. Less time is spent with parents and families
3. More conflict with parents
http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/family/350-850/350-850.html
CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Social Development
More intimate relationships with peers
As less time is spent with family, peers become
important during this time

Beginnings of establishing an identity
Reason in adult terms about moral
issues and values

http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/family/350-850/350-850.html

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Central tasks in psychosocial
development of the
adolescent
1.

Autonomy from parents and family

2.

Variations in parental behavior is necessary
(value autonomy and disciplined will)

Establishing satisfying peer relationships
and friendships. Learning intimacy.

Relationships with peers serve as prototypes for
adult relationships
Peers provide emotional support

http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/family/350-850/350-850.html

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Psychosocial development
Develop an identity

3.

Separate, distinct individual
Consistency between one’s own and other
people’s perceptions of one’s identity.

Develop skills of moral reasoning

4.


Question social and political beliefs of adults
Personal values and opinions become less
absolute
Political thought is less authoritarian
CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Movement towards
Independence

Middle School to Early High School Years

Struggle with sense of identity
Feeling awkward or strange about one’s self and
one’s body
Focus on self, alternating between high expectations
and poor self-esteem
Interests and clothing style influenced by peers
Moodiness
Improved ability to express one’s self
Identification of parents faults
Less overt affections shown to parents
Complaints of parental interference
Tendency to return to childish behavior

www.aacap.org Facts for families- Normal Adolescent
Behavior

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Sexuality

Middle School to Early High School Years
Displays shyness, blushing and modesty
Girls develop physically sooner than boys
Increased interest in sex
Movement towards heterosexuality with fears of
homosexuality
Concerns regarding physical and sexual attractiveness to
others
Frequently changing relationships

www.aacap.org Facts for families- Normal Adolescent Behavior

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Morals, Values, and Self
Direction

Middle School to Early High School Years
Rule and limit testing
Capacity for abstract thought

Development of ideals and selection of role models
More consistent evidence of conscience
Experimentation with sex and drugs
www.aacap.org Facts for families- Normal Adolescent Behavior

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Movement towards
Independence

Late high school years and beyond

Increased independent functioning
Firmer and more cohesive sense of identity
Examination of inner experiences
Ability to think ideas through
Conflict with parents begins to decrease
Increased ability for delayed gratification and
compromise
Increased emotional stability
Increased concerns for others
Increased self –reliance
Peer relationships remain important and take an
appropriate place among other interests
www.aacap.org Facts for families- Normal Adolescent Behavior

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Sexuality
Late high school years and beyond
Feelings of love and passion
Development of more serious relationships
Firmer sense of sexual identity
Increased capacity for tender and sensual love

www.aacap.org Facts for families- Normal Adolescent Behavior

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Morals, Values, and Self Direction
Late high school years and beyond
Greater capacity for setting goals
Interest in moral reasoning
Capacity to use insight
Increased emphasis on personal dignity and self-esteem
Social and cultural traditions regain some of their
previous importance

www.aacap.org Facts for families- Normal Adolescent Behavior

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Risk Taking
1.

All teens take risks as a normal part of growing up. It is a tool
to define and develop an identity. Healthy risk taking is a
valuable experience.

2.

Healthy adolescent risk-taking behaviors have a positive
impact on an adolescent's development and can include
participation is sports, the development of artistic and creative
abilities, travel, running for school office and others..

3.

Unhealthy risk-taking may appear to be a rebellion. This is
normal for this age group.

4.

Red flags are persistent psychological problems, trouble at
school, engaging in illegal activities and excessive unhealthy
risk taking.

Ponton, L. (1997). The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers Do the Things they do. Basic Books

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

Risk Taking
Healthy risk-taking is a positive tool in an adolescent's life for discovering,
his or her identity.
Unhealthy Risk Taking
Dangerous dieting and eating
disorders
Using drugs and alcohol

Healthy Alternatives
Physical activities such as sports
Extreme outdoor activities with
appropriate guidance (white water
rafting, rock climbing..)

Running away, staying out all
night

Creative arts, developing hobbies

Unprotected sexual activity

Volunteering, participating in student
exchange program, seeking out new
friends

Gang violence, weapons,
bullying, or scapegoating
Stealing, shoplifting

Open communication, talking about sex

Part-time job, involvement in community
activities

http://www.middleweb.com/adolesrisk.html#anchor19230099

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

CSMH-MSMHA 2006

References
National Adolescent Health Information Center. (2003). Fact Sheet on
Demographics: Adolescents.San Francisco, CA: Author, University
of California, San Francisco.
http://nahic.ucsf.edu//downloads/Demographics.pdf
Ponton, L. (1997). The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers Do the Things
they do. Basic Books
http://www.middleweb.com/adolesrisk.html#anchor19230099
Facts for families- Normal Adolescent Development I&II
www.aacap.org
http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/family/350-850/350-850.html
www.childtrendsdatabank.org
http://fcs.tennessee.edu/humandev/kidsmart/parentingAdolescents.pdf
http://www.health-ed-consultants.org/core.htm
CSMH-MSMHA 2006

*Developed by the Center for School Mental Health

Analysis and Action (http://csmh.umaryland.edu)
in collaboration with
the Maryland School Mental Health Alliance