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Moral Development

The decision facing all adolescents is whether they will decide things for themselves or live with the decisions made by others. Instead of just telling adolescents how to live and act, our goal should be aiming to build a solid foundation in the hearts of our students so that when they begin to make these moral, identity, or social decisions, they are making them from a life based on God focused experiences.

Adolescent Development
Jr. High Training Manual

By Michael Wiltshire

Given all that youve learned in this manual, what are ways you can be a supportive influence in the developing lives of the adolescents in our youth group?

December 7, 2009

Moral Development
One area where adolescents will morally develop is in their ethics in taking care of themselves and others. Carol Gilligan says that the starting place for people to act morally comes out of care and compassion. She gives us three stages of development.

This Training Manual Contains

Biological Development.3-8 Cognitive Development..9-12 Social Development13-16 Moral Development...17-20

Self-survival An adolescent will mainly focus on taking care of themselves.


Others An Adolescent will focus on others. While this may be generally a good thing, it becomes harmful when care comes at the expense not of focusing on the self.


Self and others Focus moves from response to choice. In this final stage, the adolescent will have a balance in placing care on both self and those around them.



Moral Development

Biological Development
Understanding The Physical Development of Adolescents

Moral reasoning and what it means for you! As adolescents develop, they commonly undergo three stages of moral reasoning. Our goal as youth workers is to supply a support system for the adolescents while they are in each stage, not push them from one to another. As you read about these stages, think of adolescents in your life that may be in each stage and how you can be supportive to them in the weeks to come.

Pre-conventional moral reasoning is when adolescents place little or no care on

doing what is morally right or wrong, but on simply satisfying their needs without consequences. While this may be a natural stage in development, would you consider this be an excuse for poor attitude or respect for others?
Write some ideas!

Conventional moral reasoning is when an adolescents morality is shaped by the

standards of those in their group or community. This can be a very beneficial stage if the adolescent is surrounded by a good group of friends. How do you think you can help to encourage adolescents engage in quality friendships so that the conventional stage may benefit them?
Write some ideas!

Guys The physical development of

Girls also undergo lots of change with the development of their new bodies. They are curious about what is happing as they physically change and what is going to happen next. They also struggle with figuring out the purpose of the new developing bodies.

Post-conventional moral reasoning is when one lives by their self-derived standers rather than the principles of others. An adolescent in this stage will begin to create morals based on experience and personal standers. What then, is the significance in teaching (and leading by example) an imitative life of Christ?
Write some ideas!

adolescent guys brings about many changes . Guys wonder what is happening with their bodies physically. They are also questioning what to do with all of their new sexual desires.

Biological Development
Guys Physical Changes Normally Occur In This Order

Moral Development
Understanding How Adolescents Develop Their Morals

Sex and How it Affects Maturing Males

Being very physical beings, males can have a difficult time figuring out all of the changes in the developing body and the feelings of sexually that comes with them. Media and some peers also tend to teach males that acting on that sexuality is normal and expected. Masturbation is also a popular outlet for sexual desires. This action may be one of the first things males learn about satisfying themselves of their sexual desires.

1. Growth of testes & scrotal sac 2. Growth of pubic hair 3. Body growth 4. Growth of penis 5. Change in voice 6. Facial and Underarm hair 7. Oil and sweat glands

Issues with Male Development And What You Can Do About It Male youth workers should be both teaching and portraying good examples of how to treat woman. Because so many males follow example after those they look up to, male youth workers should be making an effort to talk and act respectfully toward girls and woman. While the topic of sex may be difficult to discuss, youth workers should be purposeful to provide a safe Christ-centered environment for adolescents to discuss issues and questions that come with physical development. All youth workers should understand the importance of parental involvement in the lives of their adolescents. While providing a safe environment, youth workers should also encouragement to talk to parents about questions adolescents may have.



Social Development
A major part of an adolescents social development depends groups of friends. As a youth worker, you should be aware of common groupings of friends and how it affects the adolescents who are in them.

Biological Development

Girls Physical Changes Normally Occur In This Order 1. Increase in size of breasts 2 .Growth of pubic hair 3. Body growth 4. Oil and sweat glands
A clique is a smaller group of friends usually ranging from 3-10 adolescents that tend to be of the same sex, age, and ethnic background. Cliques also tend to be exclusive, and are very common for both male and female adolescents. Crowds are groups made up of multiple cliques, and interactions tend to be less personal then in cliques. What does this mean for me? Groups can be a really great thing for adolescents, the problem is when groups become exclusive. Try to help students find what situation fits them best and encourage them to open up include others in their friendships.

Sex and How It Affects Maturing Girls Most adolescent girls view of sexuality is polluted by media that surrounds them. While dressing in an immodest way may seem unacceptable to you, it is what girls are told is normal and beneficial for them to fit in sexually.

5. Menarche 6. Growth in size of ovaries, 7. Widening of Hips

Issues With Female Physical Development And What You Can Do About It

Girls will one way or another find someway to learn about what is happening physically. As a youth worker, you should encouraging adolescents to help them to hear about development from the right places such as a parent or other close adult relationships. Adolescent girls are pressured to look, dress and act a sexual appealing way. A one-on-one engorgement from a female leader could help girls who are struggling with dressing immodesty or who is having selfconfidence issues. If you are a male leader you can be strategic in large group settings by helping girls to understand how dressing or acting immodestly can af-

Isolates tend to have very few friends, and are not heavily involved in ether cliques or crowds.

Liaisons are adolescents who do not belong to a clique, but tend to have many friends in many cliques.

fect their Christian brothers around them.

Biological Development

Social Development
As Guys and Girls grow up, their friendships with one another will develop right along with them. Its our job to provide a healthy environment and support for adolescents as they undergo these

As you may have noticed, the age and rate of when guys and girls physically mature seem to be random and spontaneous. No matter how random this process may seem, there are may effects early and late maturation has on adolescents. For boys, early maturation often leads to greater selfconfidence and popularity, as well as more recognition in a range of activities, than what is found in males who mature later on. This can also mean, however, that early maturing boys are more likely to take part in dangerous behaviors such as drinking and smoking. For girls who mature at an earlier age the advantages are not soy numerous. Many early maturing girls seem to develop self-esteem issues because of their adult bodies.


Girls friendships are commonly based on trust, and willingness to open up to each other. Eventually foConformity is when an adolescent develops a tendency to go along with the standards or norms of their group. Factors contributing to conformity include relation and separation from parents, ones status in peer groups, and peer pressure. Understanding the motives behind some gossip could help you youth worker better approach the issue with adolescents cus begins to shift more towards personalities in more mature adolescence. The friendships of early adolescent boys tend to be based on shared activities. Later in adolescence, friendships develop emotionally, but often involve less discussion of feelings.



Social Development
Understanding how adolescents find identity is am important task in helping them develop socially.

What Would You Do???

Identity Formations of Adolescents Identity Foreclosed:

Cut me out!

Here is whats happening...

Adolescents who are identity foreclosed will not form opinions or beliefs of there own, but instead adopt their parents values and outlook on life. Identity Achieved: Adolescents who find their identity in what fits them best are considered to be identity achieved. These adolescents have searched lifes options for what works best for them. Moratorium These adolescents have a hard time finding identity because they are scared to make life decisions. Identity Diffused: Because identity diffused adolescents fail to see the importance of making life decisions, their identity is often forced upon them by others.

You have a female student who keeps coming to youth group in very short shorts and reveling shirts. It is obvious to you that this is not only causing some other girls in her clique to start dressing in similar ways, but you are starting to hear some of the guys in the youth group to say some pretty inappropriate things about her. What would you do?

What Does This Mean For Me?

By better understanding how adolescents find their identity, you as youth workers can be more strategic in helping their students find identity in Christ.

What would happen if you where to truly listen and try to understand the identity formation of the adolescents in your world?
Cut out!

Here, list ideas of what YOU would do in this situation. How would your interactions with students change once you have a better understanding of their identity formation?
Would you involve parents? Would you have a one-on-one? What else could you do?

Biological Development

Social Development
Primary and Secondary Sex Characteristics While all adolescents undergo physical development, the different parts of this development may happen at different times. These are called primary and secondary sex characteristics. Primary sex characteristics have to do with changes in the reproductive system within a male or a female, such as the growth of testes or ovaries. Other changes, such as breast development and hair growth, are secondary sex characteristics and vary from person to person. What does this mean for me? Because of your new understanding of the affects of early and late maturation in adolescents, you can be conscious of avoiding favoritism for students that fall into ether the early or late maturation category. The consequences of showing favoritism for adolescents who mature earlier than average may be that those students might consider themselves to be more superior to late bloomers because of their more developed bodies. Showing favoritism for later maturing adolescents may also cause the more physically mature adolescents to develop self-esteem issues because of their changing bodies. Remembering primary and secondary sex characteristics may also help you with this process.

Understanding How Adolescents Interact


Cognitive Development

Ever Wonder Why??? .Some adolescents seem to understand some things much better and easier than others? ...Some kids just cannot sit still? ...Some students just dont understand until you help them to visualize what you are saying?
Some of the reasons why different adolescents understand things differently then you or the other students may have something to do when Ganers theory of multiple intelligences. If every adolescent has a different learning intelligence how can YOU help them to learn more effectively and guide them in their walk with Christ?

Cognitive Development
Understanding How Adolescents Think

Ganers list of Multiple Intelligence:

Interpersonal.Aware of others Intrapersonal..Aware of self Spatial.Visualization Bodily/kinesthetic.Movement Orientated Math/logic...Mathematically Orientated MusicMusical Concepts Naturalistic..Nature Orientated Existential.Naturally aware of purpose of life


Cognitive Development

Cognitive Development
One way to better understand how adolescents think is to understand different types of

Types of thinking with adolescents

Thinking Abstractly: Unlike children, adolescents begin to think of things in terms of classes and members of classes. They are also capable of figuring out ways to classify those classes. Thinking Hypothetically: When faced with a difficulty, an adolescent can imagine different possible variations and outcomes of the problem. The act of imaging possibilities, instead of simply considering what is real, permits an adolescent to think hypothetically. Thinking Logically: In order to think logically an adolescent must test their ideas against one another to figure out what they believe is truth. Adolescents also begin to utilize logic and understand connections between different ideas. This enables them to use discernment when considering if something is true or false.
Cut this out!

thought tendencies they commonly adopt.

Pseudostipidity is a term used to describe an adolescent who tends to make an ordinarily simple task harder than required by excessively examining all possible outcomes. In simple terms; pseudostipidity is when an adolescent over thinks and makes things harder than they really are. A negative affect pseudostipidity may occur when an adolescent is overwhelmed by possibilities of a task while another individual solve the issue with ease. The result of this situation may be that the first adolescent would have feelings of inefficiency . What this means for you! As a youth worker, you should be ready and willing to have patience with adolescents who may be challenged by completing a task that was originally labeled as easy. Try to use sensitivity in attempt to never make an adolescent feel stupid or inadequate for taking longer on a project or not understanding instructions. Imaginary Audience is an adolescents imaginative experience of constantly being the focus of attention. This frame of mind affects adolescents capacity to think about thinking of others. It also inhibits an adolescents concern of others because of their fixation placed on themselves. Negative effects on adolescents might be that they develop an intense need for privacy or exaggerated feelings of self-consciousness. What this means for you!

What Would You Do? After hearing a message given on Sunday morning, a student is having trouble understanding all of what was thought. Before leaving church this student comes to YOU to ask questions about the message.

What are some questions you can ask to help this adolescent better understand what was taught.

Because of the tendency for students who deal with imaginary audience is to think that others are constantly focusing and judging them negatively, you have the wonderful opportunity to be an encouragement in the lives of many adolescents. Helping them to find self-confidence in their identity in Christ would be a great starting place for this kind of encouragement. Personal fable is mindset often going hand in hand with imaginary audience. While it may be a good thing for an adolescent to understand that they are uniquely special, the trouble begins when they start to believe that they are invulnerable, and omnipotent. A major issue with this thought processes is when adolescents believe they are so unique that no one understands them, or what they are going though. Due to misassumptions of being invulnerable, many adolescents believe that what they see or even experience will not affect them in the ways witnessed in others. Unfortunately this type of thinking often leads to self-destructive tendencies in adolescents. What you can do! One major danger with personal fable is that a student may think that there is not consequences for their actions. Even if they see those consequences in the lives of others. An example of this may be if an adolescent sees a friend get in trouble for smoking, they would believe that the same thing could never happen to them. As a youth worker, you should strive to help students who think this way to understand that there is consequences for actions. One way to do this may be to try to help adolescents to truly think through issues they may be struggling with by helping them to understand what God says about the issue.

What are some ways you can better explain to different types of thinking?