Adolescence is a key developmental stage in an individual’s life. It encompasses substantial changes physiologically, cognitively and socio-emotionally. Adolescence begins with the onset of puberty between 11-13 years and continues till the end of teenage years. Recent scientific evidence suggests that while physical growth stops in late teens, the cognitive development goes up to and beyond the age of 24.
Family dynamics undergo changes when children turn adolescents. Parents feel that their children are becoming rebellious and argumentative. While this is true, it is a natural developmental stage through which adolescents individuate from their parents. While some amount of alienation from parents is requisite for healthy psychological development, adolescents still care what their parents think, and they still seek their love and guidance, albeit in an altered interpersonal setting. Psychologist Laurence Steinberg observes that dealing with adolescents is akin to building a boat.
“Parents have to construct a strong underpinning so their kids are equipped to face whatever’s ahead. In the teen years, that means staying involved as they slowly let go. One of the things that’s natural in adolescence is that kids are going to pull away from their parents as they become increasingly interested in peers.” (Kantrowitz & Springen, 2005, p. 50)
Adolescents face a lot of peer-pressure. It is through conforming to this pressure that they convince themselves that they belong to the group. Some of the areas in which adolescents face peer pressure are in academic ability and social skills and vocational skills. By achieving these goals, they enhance their self-esteem and instils a belief that they can contribute constructively to the world around them. While peer pressure can be very stressful for some adolescents while others cope with it better. The contrary view among scientists these days is that teenage years can actually be relaxed and stress-free. A recent study published in The Journal of Early Adolescence shows
“that there are quantifiable personality traits possessed by all adolescents who manage to get to adulthood without major problems. Psychologists have labeled these traits “the five C’s”: competence, confidence, connection, character and caring. These characteristics theoretically lead to a sixth C, contribution (similar to civic engagement). The five C’s are interconnected, not isolated traits.” (Kantrowitz & Springen, 2005, p. 50)