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The Development of Adolescents

In life, children must pass through several stages and they take specific steps on their way to becoming adults. Usually, there are four stages which people take towards becoming adults; there is infancy which if of the children at the age of two years, early childhood is the age between three to eight years, later childhood which ranges between eight and twelve years, and adolescent stage which ranges between thirteen and eighteen years.

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The adolescent stage in life bridges childhood and adulthood and is the representation of the second phase or decade in life. It is usually a traditional stage of mental and physical development that usually occurs between the childhood of a person and his/her adulthood. The transition in adolescents usually involves biological changes which are referred to as pubertal, social, and physical changes in humans. Usually, the biological and physical changes of the person at this stage are the easiest to measure objectively. From the past, puberty has been heavily associated with teenagers as well as the onset of developments of adolescents. During the current times, however, the onset of puberty has been associated and seen as an increase in preadolescence and the extension beyond the teenage years which therefore make adolescence less simple to perceive.

The development of adolescents is characterized by discontinuity and continuity which are physical, social, and cognitive. Physically, adolescents are mostly influenced by the genes which they have inherited from their parents. The inheritance from the parents then interacts with the sew social surroundings and conditions which includes the immediate family, their peers, school, friendships, and dating. In their social lives, the adolescents are seen to have to spend a lot of their lives interacting with their parents, teachers, and friends, and therefore although there are new experiences that arise, their relationships take a different form, especially concerning their intimacy and dating. Lastly is their cognitive development of adolescents involves their thinking processes which are usually more idealistic and abstract.

There is a range of developmental issues which adolescents face. (Havighurst 1952) suggested two important areas in their lives which include relationships and work. (Levinson 1978) on the other side focused on the exploration and the changing relationships while (Erickson 1968) focused on the intimacy and the commitments which adolescents have on their goals in life. Exploring and crystallizing vocational choices are usually very important to older adolescents as well as young adults. Older adolescents and young adults usually enter into transitions with the main goal of becoming independent in their functioning as adults. They usually strive so that they can be able to meet their evolving career and personal related needs. The rapid and escalating changes in the post-secondary opportunities and the labor market mean that adolescents are confronted with the challenge which involves meeting their career and personal needs when neither of the needs can offer a sense of certainty of personal control in their lives (Super 1963).

In the transition of adolescents from high school, a longitudinal study which was conducted by (Amundson, Bogen & Tench) found that the young people left they high school without being prepared for theory current career realities and the career, as well as personal areas of their lives, were in an uncertainty changing state. In the study at the end of their final year, young people expressed optimism about entering the career area of their own choice and they also expected to be successful workers in jobs that are challenging and which offer them personal satisfaction. In the study, almost half of the students who were involved in the study showed concern about meeting the standards of their post-secondary entrance, depression, self-esteem, and anxiety in the nine and eighteen months following their graduation were correlated with a range of perceived problems which included money, internal attribution of the general transition problems, lack of support from friends and family lack of job satisfaction and external attribution of the employment and/or career difficulties.

The positive factors which were seen to help the post-high school transition of the adolescents included supportive family and friends, satisfying leisure activities, making money, educational success, and personal success and achievements. On the other hand, the negative factors which hindered the post-high school transition included problems in relationships, financial difficulties, career confusion, lack of satisfying work, difficulties in adjusting to the post-secondary educational demands, and lack of post-secondary opportunities. On the side f their development, the young people in the study were seen to try to meet their career and personal needs which were in a state of uncertainty and flux. It was clear that lack of progress in one area brought a negative influence on another area, for example, the inability to gain post-secondary admission or paid work drastically altered the adolescent’s ability from being a dependent adolescent to an adult who is independent.

The study, therefore, showed a clear need for an expanded view of career counseling which would recognize young people’s needs, the influences of social and economic changes as well as the importance of the basic strategies on the career and personal competence which are all in the context of changing and diminishing opportunities for choice. (Amundson, Bogen & Tench) developed a competence model which addressed eight broader areas and a range of issues. The areas included purpose, problem-solving, theoretical knowledge, applied knowledge, communication skills, human relation skills, and self-confidence, they also developed counseling strategies that would be used to facilitate a smoother transition for the adolescents.

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According to (Gelatt 1989), one of the strategies is to develop multiple plans which require problem-solving skills, sense of purpose, and several plans while the helpful strategies included visualization, assessing options, lateral thinking, and decision making in an uncertain context. Second is self-advocacy and marketing so that they can be able to move towards further education and into a labor market. With the confusing bureaucracies and opportunities, there is an absolute need for adolescents to develop communication skills, organizational adaptability, self-confidence, and human relations effectiveness. Activities required for the achievement of all these are mentoring, ongoing economic, emotional, and informational support, and role-play practice.

The third one is managing the changing relationships where their parents are needed for emotional, information, and material support and still, give the adolescents a chance and room for developing their sense of identity. Facilitation of coping with the change in relationships can be done through communication, problem-solving which hinders most of the traditional distinction between personal and career counseling and human relationship training. Fourth is meeting basic needs by developing a sense of purpose and understanding how they meet with current and future needs, coping with stress include the use of relaxation techniques and using support systems. Coping with losses such as death and divorce involves the need for the development of competencies in the ability to handle grief and loss and lastly, bridging programs should be used to develop work experience.

Erickson talks about the adolescent stage of identity versus role confusion which shows that the teenage years are hard for everyone as they are aware that they will soon become contributors to their families and society. The stage task is to achieve ego identity and avoid role confusion. The ego identity according to Erickson means the adolescents knowing who they are and how they can fit in the society which requires the person to take what has been learning t about life and themselves and then molding it into a unified self-image so that the community may find it to be useful. Adolescents need to have good adult role models as well as open lines of communication and society is meant to provide clear right passage certain rituals and compliments which helps to differentiate the child from the adult.

In the traditional society, the boys and girls underwent certain tests of endurance, educational events, and symbolic ceremonies so that the childhood and adulthood of the person id distinguished. Without this, therefore, there would have been a likelihood of role confusion due to the uncertainty of a person’s place in society, and a person suffering from role confusion is said to have an identity crisis. Erickson suggests a psychosocial moratorium where one needs to take some time out where he/she can take a vacation, quit school and get a job or quit the job and go to school so to know oneself. Erick refers to too much ego identity where a person may be so much involved in the society such that there is no room left for tore lance as fanaticism. Such kind of people promotes their beliefs only without the regard of others to disagree or agree.

Lack of identity is referred to as repudiation and is more difficult where adolescents may involve themselves in groups that provide details of their selves. These groups may be as religious cults, groups funded by hatred, militaristic organizations, and groups that separate themselves from the demands of the main society, and they, therefore, may be involved in destructive activities or even withdraw themselves in their psychotic fantasies. Successful adolescents according to Erickson have a fidelity virtue which means loyalty and the ability of the adolescent to live by the standards which are set by the society despite their incompleteness, inconsistencies, and imperfections. Fidelity virtue does not mean that the adolescent will accept blind loyalty and imperfections, but if they love their communities, they will therefore want to see it as being the best and it also means that the adolescent has found a place in the community which will allow them to contribute to its well being (Boeree, 1997).

There are various personality types of adolescents. These types are usually related to adjustments and parental control. These personality types are under controllers, over controllers, and resilient which are related to parenting and behavioral correlates and antecedents. There is usually a moderator effect of restrictive control in the under controllers (Association for Professionals 2002). They have a curvilinear nature, ego-resiliency which describes their tendency to respond with resourcefulness and flexibility rather than with rigidity to the changing situational demands such as conflict and stress. Ego control is the ability to contain rather than express motivational and emotional impulses. Adolescents with high resilience can adapt to optimal levels of impulse control flexibly to the changing demands in life while the individuals who have ego-brittle with low resilience lack the flexibility in life and depending on their habitual levels of ego-control, they either repress their impulses strongly or else let their impulse to prevail.

Overcontrollers score low on extraversion and emotional stability, moderate on agreeableness and openness and have a high level of conscientiousness. The three personality types differ significantly on their external correlatedness, this is because the resilient adjusts the best and also shows high levels of intelligence, social competence, and school achievement. Overcontrollers show a relatively high standard of academic competence but show a lack of social skills and they also exhibit emotional problems. Undercontrollers on the other hand score low on their academic performance, show behavioral problems, are less accepted by their peers, and are usually more involved in serious delinquencies ( Ron, Cornelis, Cees, and Marcel 2005).

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The influence of media on behavior has been supported through psychological theories, models, and hypotheses, and the media sexuality-related messages behavior, and content over time act as a stimulus that changes their psychological, behavioral, and psychological functions. The media practice model explains media use in a comprehensive and contextual framework and also highlights the connection between media selection, interaction and application, and adolescents’ identities. It assumes that the youth choose media and interact with it based on who they want to be and who they are currently. The media messages have an important influence on the young people’s lives as they receive information which is important about the choices of life one wants to choose. The media has an impact on adolescents’ violence and aggression which shows that some of these behaviors from the youths are due to the media and the kind of materials that are shown or reported in them. a study done in America indicates that adolescents spend six to seven hours of their day with some form of media which includes videos, TVs, movies, and radios and due to this their behavior had changed considerably (Davis 1996).

Within the family, there is a greater transfer of control from the parents to the adolescents although there is a boundary of coregulation. In the families, the adolescents begin to push for autonomy and responsibility which usually anger and puzzle parents and it usually causes conflicts between the parents and the adolescents in the families. The push of autonomy by the adolescents is a process in which they continue to keep strong attachments with their parents and therefore, the best change is a gradual one where the parent relinquishes the control on a step by step basis and still secure a strong attachment or connectedness to the teenagers or the adolescents in the family. The connectedness, therefore, promotes a more competent relationship of the adolescent later in his or her life.

In conclusion. the adolescent stage in life is a very crucial stage where most of the persons mold their adult lives. There are many things that impact adolescents’ lives and therefore determine how they behave, these are such as schools, families, and the media. The schools mostly impact in the knowledge part of the young person where he/she can gain knowledged skills which will enable the adolescent to have a job later in life. Adolescents who excel in their academics get good jobs and therefore can help their families and their parents in their day-to-day endeavors. Families help the young persons to gain responsibility in life and be able to be competent in the society in the young person’s later life. The media has also a great impact on adolescent’s life depending on what they watch or hear in the media. Media mostly impacts their sexuality, eating habits, and general behavior. Some become aggressive in life and want to become certain characters at that time in their lives and this impacts their lives.

According to Erickson, the adolescent stage in life is the stage where a person can identify their ego and avoid role confusion. The ability of the young person to know their role in the society and how they can fit in it requires him/her to learn about life and mold their self-image so that the community which they live in may accept them and themselves be of help to the society. Adolescents, therefore, need to have good adult role models as well as open lines of communication, and the society is meant to provide clear right passage certain rituals and compliments which helps to differentiate the child from the adult. These three types of personalities in adolescents are over controllers who score low on extraversion and emotional stability, moderate on agreeableness and openness and have a high level of conscientiousness. Undercontrollers have a curvilinear nature, ego-resiliency which describes their tendency to respond with resourcefulness and flexibility rather than with rigidity to the changing situational demands such as conflict and stress, and finally the high resilient can adapt to optimal levels of impulse control flexibly to the changing demands in life while the individuals who have ego-brittle with low resilience lack the flexibility in life and depending on their habitual levels of ego-control, they either repress their impulses strongly or else let their impulse to prevail.


Amundson, N. E.; Borgen, W. A., & Tench, E. Personality and intelligence in career education and vocational guidance counseling. International Handbook of Personality and Intelligence, Plenum, New York.

Boeree, George C, 1997, personality theories, Erick Erickson 1902-1994.

Davis J. K. 1996, survey on teens and sex: what they say teens today need to know, and who they listen to.

Erikson, E. H. 1968, Identity youth and crisis, W. W. Norton, New York.

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Gelatt, H. B. 1989, Positive uncertainty: A new decision making framework for counseling: Journal of Counseling Psychology, 36, 252-256.

Havighurst, R. J. 1952 Developmental tasks and education , David McKay, New York.

Levinson, D. 1978. The seasons of a man’s life, Ballantine, New York:.

Super, D. E. 1963, Career development: Essays in vocational development, College Entrance Examination Board, New York.

Ron H.J. S; Cornelis F.M. L; Cees A.M. D; Marcel A.G.A. 2005, adolescents personality types and subtypes and their psychosocial adjustment Merril-Palmer Quarterly.

The Association for Professionals in Services for Adolescents, 2002, Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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