Adolescence is an important stage: A teacher to understand

Stage of Adolescence

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Adolescence is an important stage for a teacher to understand.

This is a span of years during which boys and girls move from childhood to adulthood mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically. Adolescence is a period of stress and strain. And it is the stage of maladjustment for an individual.

This is a period of experience of complexity for both boys and girls. Those all about because of the nature of the physical and mental development of the individual.

Just as childhood is a period of consolidation after infancy, similarly adolescence is a period of expansion after childhood. Therefore in this stage, the child attains maturity physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is the most important period of life. During this stage, the child reaches maximum growth and development.

It may be noted that the start of adolescence may differ in various climates. Adolescence starts late in cold but earlier in tropical regions. This period is normally between thirteen and nineteen years of age. Therefore it is also called the teenage.

Following are the chief Physical and mental characteristics of the adolescence period 


Physical Characteristics

During this period rapid physical and physiological changes take place in both boys and girls. They are of special importance to the adolescent and also to the teacher who wants to study them. Generally, we can find marked differences in the growth of boys and girls during this period.

The following remarkable physical changes take place during adolescence

1.Changes in height and weight

Almost all adolescent boys and girls show a remarkable growth in height and weight. There is a rapid growth sput in girls from ten to fourteen years and in boys from twelve to sixteen years.

The mature height is attained by eighteen to twenty years. Boys are on average taller than girls up to the eleventh year. From twelve to fifteen years, girls grow faster than boys.

But after that boys get taller than girls and retain that superiority till maturity. Studies show that boys are on average, heavier than girls at all ages except from eleven to fourteen years when girls excel the boys in both height and weight.

2.Changes in body proportions

Human individuals differ not only in height and weight but also in body proportions as they grow. It must be noted that not all parts of the body attain mature proportions at the same time.

Some areas attain their mature size at one age while others attain maturity at earlier or later ages. But most parts of the body assume adult proportions by the end of eighteen years. This happens due to the development of muscles and bones.

3.Changes in internal organs

During growth, important changes occur in the internal organs such as the brain, muscles, skeleton, and glands. The brain gradually matures and too, the nervous system. The skeleton becomes longer day by day and joints of the bone become stronger.

Glandular changes also take place during physical growth. Thyroid, thymus, pituitary, and genital glands develop to the maximum. The changes in glands affect the behavior of adolescent boys and girls. They develop masculine and feminine characteristics.

4. Change in voice

The change of voice in boys is noteworthy. During adolescence, the voice of the boys becomes coarse day by day, but that of the girls becomes sweeter.

5. Changes in physical activity, ability, strength, and speed

The adolescent boys and girls become physically active and developability, skills, strength, and speed in doing various activities. Girls seem to mature earlier than boys in physical activity. The boys are superior particularly in activities that involve speed and muscular strength.

Both boys and girls develop athletic abilities during adolescence. They always like adventure and show bravery during this period.

Mental Characteristics

Both heredity and environment play a relative role in the mental development of the child. As the child grows physically, there is a gradual development of his mental powers. The child starts understanding, memorizing. thinking and reasoning.

Mental development is greatly influenced by maturation and learning. Mental development includes such abilities as attending. Perceiving observing, remembering, imagining, thinking. problem-solving as well as developing language abilities. These abilities change, grow, and mature with age.

These mental abilities are interrelated and develop as a whole, but not in isolation.

1.Sensation and Perception

The sensation is the first step to knowledge. When sensation is objectified and meaning is attached to it, it becomes perception. Gaining experiences, the child’s sensations of taste, color, sound, touch, or pressure get attached to certain concrete objects.

He is able to discriminate between things and to understand them based on his sensations and perceptions. As the child grows and enters adolescence his perceptions are influenced by his beliefs, opinions, and cultural ideas.

2.Concept formation

A concept is a generalized idea attached to a person, a thing, or any quality. We arrive at concepts of things, persons, and qualities as a result of our perceptual experience, our ability to compare and contrast, to relate, and to generalize.

Concepts may be concrete like father, mother, teacher, stars, moon, sun, river, ocean, and also we may form abstract concepts like honesty, truthfulness, god, and electricity.

The formation and acquisition of concepts is a great step forward in mental development. The concepts increase in number and become richer during adolescence owing to the increased ability to generalize the facts.

3.Development of Memory

Memory is an important manifestation of mental development. It increases with age and experience. Pleasant events are more remembered than unpleasant events.

Therefore, the children remember a number of stories and tales from mythology. As the child grows he forgets many of his past experiences but retains the important events or experiences both pleasant and unpleasant.

Forgetfulness is more in childhood but less in adolescence. Long-term memory increases in adolescents and they can retain facts for a long- period.

4. Development of imagination, thinking and problem-solving

Concept formation is accompanied by imagination, thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving. These mental activities appear at later stages of development, particularly after childhood.

Adolescents develop the ability for abstract imagination. They manifest such imagination in painting art and literature.

Imagination may be reproductive or creative, Imagination becomes reproductive when one imagines from his past experience or from any external source like a novel and detective. But in creative imagination, the source is internal.

The adolescent can create something new which is his original contribution. Passive imagination, which is called daydreaming or fantasy, helps the adolescent to be free from emotional tensions.

Active imagination helps the adolescent to discover new ideas and things. The ability to solve problems increases in adolescence.

They are able mentally to deal with events in a world that extends far beyond their own immediate sphere of activity. They try to solve and talk about national and international problems. Logical and higher-order thinking occurs during adolescence.

5. Ability to make decisions

The individual has to make decisions for better adjustment in life. During adolescence, the growing child gains increasing confidence in his own opinion.

There is a certain amount of independence in thinking, a certain freedom in exploring and weighing alternatives that enables one to make wise decisions. He critically examines the moral code framed by parents and teachers and asks a number of questions.

But the moral concepts become internalized and the adolescent is able to differentiate what is good and what is bad for him.

6.Development of intelligence

The growth of intelligence is the most important aspect of mental development. Mental development affects all other developments of childlike language development, emotional development, and social development.

The development of intelligence starts in early childhood and continues until the end of adolescence when it reaches its maximum.

Intelligence increases with age. Some individuals show a rapid increase in certain areas of intelligence, whereas others indicate a rapid increase in other areas.

By intelligence we mean the ability to apply knowledge to new situations, ability to solve problems, ability to adjust to new situations, ability to think in abstract ways.

It is a global concept that includes almost all mental abilities. Generally, intelligence reaches its maximum at the age of sixteen. 

Emotional Characteristics

  • Complexity

As the child grows into an adolescent his becomes complex. His varied experiences from different environments add to the complexity of his emotional development.

He learns to hide his true emotional experiences. Therefore, it is difficult to understand his emotions.

  • Emotional feelings widened

There is a great shift in his social sphere. He starts making friendships, forming groups with others, taking leadership or followership. He, too, starts appreciating others. He may be emotionally attached to a group, a person, or an institution

  • Development of tolerance

Adolescents develop the competencies to bear and tolerate tensions, troubles, frustrations, and failures in different social situations. They give emphasis on self-control. They also learn how to redirect their emotions in acceptable directions.

  • Capacity to share emotion

Adolescents develop the quality of sharing the feelings of others. They share with the joy and sorrows of others. They begin to love their neighbors, mates. members of groups and fellow beings.

They derive pleasure through the achievement of their friends. They sympathize with the persons in trouble.

  • Reviewing of hopes and aspirations

Adolescent boys and girls generally have high hopes and aspirations for their future life. When they find that their achievements are not parallel with their aspirations, they become more realistic and accordingly try to review their aspirations in the light of their achievements and abilities.

  • Tolerance of aloneness

 The adolescents at times prefer to stay alone in their homes. They get pleasure from daydreaming or fantastic imagination by sitting alone for a long time. Any disturbance during this time is not liked by them.

  • Love for freedom

The adolescents feel a kind of inner freedom, freedom to feel and express. They like to act and behave independently. Any interference from parents and teachers makes them rebellious and stubborn. 

Common Emotions during Adolescence

  • Love and Affection

During childhood love centers around the objects of interest that satisfy the immediate needs of the child. But in adolescence love is associated with near relatives, pets, and the opposite gender. During this period love becomes a source of pleasure. 

Joy, Pleasure, and Delight

The adolescent feels joy when he is well adjusted. He derives pleasure and delight from his achievements. The adolescents develop a feeling of superiority which provides them maximum pleasure.

They are delighted when they succeed in any sort of competition in sports, debates, and other group activities.

Worries and Anxieties

Worry is imaginary fear. It is caused by a repeated rehearsal of the situation which causes fear. The adolescents may have worried about the following in school.

(i) Schoolwork Examinations and tests Favouritism by the teachers

(iv) Unreasonable homework

(v) Lack of ability to concentrate

(vi) Failures in competitions

(vii)problems with their genital organs

                 At home also they experience worries owing to the following reasons,

(i) Lack of adjustment and understanding with parents.

(ii) Illness of parents and poverty of parents.

(iii) Family problems like bitter relations between different members, presence of stepmother, favoritism by parents, etc.

  • Fear

Fear is learned by the child from his environment. Some categories of objects are listed below which may cause fear.

(i) Fear of animals and snakes.

(ii) Fear of material objects like machines, electric appliances, the sea, rivers, deep water, high and lovely places, strange noise, fire, and darkness.

(iii) Fear of social relationships-meeting with higher authorities, being with elders and teachers, speaking from a platform, meeting with members of the opposite gender. Fears decrease with the increase of age as adolescents become more rational and reasonable.

  • Anger

 Anger is a violent emotion expressed by adolescents due to the following reasons.

(i) Unfair treatment by teachers, parents, elders, and peers

(ii) Satirical remarks by others

(iii) Encroachment of right by others

(iv) Failure in responsibilities

(v) Unnecessary interferences by parents and teachers

(vi) Assignment of tasks beyond his ability.

Social Characteristics

Man is a social animal and he cannot live without society. He develops his personality in interaction with society and develops gradually some of the social behaviors. In ordinary language by social development, we mean the attainment of the maturity of social relationships.

It enables an individual to better adjust to his environment. Social development occurs on account of social functioning under a particular set of circumstances.

The individual learns the special ways of society like customs, traditions, manners, language, morals, and ways of living. As the individual grows and matures, there occurs a change in his taste, attitude, and interests.

Accordingly, he may show person to person, person to the group, and group to group interactions.

  • Friendship

Adolescents tend to choose friends of their own age and temperament. They develop friendships based on common interests, needs, and goals. They don’t tolerate the interference of parents and others in selecting friends.

  • Social Consciousness

Adolescents become socially conscious and develop a sense of social responsibilities, duties, rights, and obligations. They develop group loyalties that are wider in scope. Such loyalties are not only to the gang but extend to the school, the community, and the nation. Family loyalty and pride are well marked in adolescents.

  • Social maturity

Adolescents attain social maturity and show a number of important characteristics. They develop the ability to adapt to others in changing situations. They develop wide behavioral forms as gregariousness or herd living, kindness, sympathy, courtesy, dependability, self-confidence, cooperation, and sacrifice.

They too. conform to social norms, social rules, and regulations, customs, and traditions. They develop the ability to making judgments and decisions in critical situations.

  • Leadership

Leadership is an important aspect of social development in adolescence. The adolescent boys and girls exhibit the qualities of leadership by participating in a number of group activities. Leadership is a process of interaction among different members of a group.

Out of that interaction, some leaders emerge out. Four important factors are essential for such interaction the presence of a group, the need for some group action, the presence of a leader, and the presence of followers. 

A leader should possess certain special qualities. He should have personal prestige, patience, and endurance, quality of domination, courage, and flexibility, hardworking, responsibility, sincerity, and impartiality.

In schools, adolescent boys and girls show their leadership in academic performances, games, and sports, organizing debates, competitions, excursions, and social services.

  • Changes in the boy-girl relationships

In adolescence. the boys and girls take interest in the opposite gender. Boys like to make friendships with girls. They prefer group activities where both boys and girls can participate. They like to stage dramas with girls. They act as volunteers for the girls and to help girls. 

  • Development of social, cultural, recreational, and vocational interests

               (a) Social interests – The adolescent boys and girls develop an interest to attend different social functions, celebrations, fairs, festivals, marriage ceremonies and also like to visit the house of others, religious places, market places where both the sexes meet. They, too, carry on conversations regarding the various social problems. Arguments grow, out of such discussions.

               (b) Recreational interests – Recreation contributes to mental health. The adolescents develop an interest in reading, cultural activities, movies, group games, radio listening and they also engage themselves in different hobbies like drawing, gardening, writing photography, collecting stamps, etc.

               (c) Vocational interests – Adolescents develop an interest in their future careers. They gather data about different vocations available for them such as teaching, joining the army, farming, medicine, business, executive posts, engineering, law, and police. They try to prepare themselves for such vocations depending on their area of interest and ability.

               (d) Development of social attitudes – Social attitudes develop as a result of social interaction and determine the degree of adjustment of the adolescents; such attitudes may be formed centering around different persons, customs.traditions,culture, religion,marriage and social conventions.

Moral Characteristics

The conduct of young children is mostly governed by the mores or standards of the group and society. These mores or standards are known as morals. Morals guide the behavior of an individual. Adolescence is the actual stage for the moral development of children. Religion greatly influences the moral development of adolescents.

  • Religious consciousness

Adolescent boys and girls become conscious of their religion. They develop an interest in the philosophy behind religion and life. They develop an attitude of dependence on a religious hero, prophets, gods, and goddesses.

They, too, start worshiping them. They like to read mythologies and learn many morals from them. They very often quote the moral characters from Mahabharat and Ramayan. They also study the biographies of great religious heroes.

  • Altruism

Adolescents develop altruism or the principle of living for others. They cherish the ideals of social service. They aspire for the creation of an ideal society. They take a keen interest in social and political events. They develop a sense of patriotism and love for their nation.

  • Social Reformation

Though adolescents become religiously conscious, they don’t accept all aspects of religion and social conventions. They develop a sense of reasoning and judgment. They strongly oppose some religious practices and superstitions.

They develop a rebellious attitude towards social evils and superstitions and accordingly argue to bring about social reformations. But due to a lack of education and proper training, most adolescents become victims of blind beliefs, prejudices, and false practices.

  • Formation of sentiments

The adolescents form strong sentiments of love, religion, patriotism, and friendship. When a number of emotions get organized around an object, a person, or an idea, that is called a sentiment.

Adolescents get angry when their sentiments are hurt by others. For example, they get angry when someone says against their religion or country, or alma mater.

These sentiments become ideals for them and they are guided by their ideals. They develop willpower by which they control their basic impulses and rise above social approval. This is the highest moral development in adolescents.

  • Formation of character

The formation of sentiments results in the formation of strong character in adolescents. When the child is born he is not clear about himself. As he develops, associates with others get experiences, he knows about himself.

He develops a sentiment about himself and this is what is called ‘character”. Character is formed when the various sentiments get organized around a person or self. Adolescents develop strong characters such as reliability, dependability, persistence, and optimism.

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