All about adolescence


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All about adolescence

  1. 1. All About AdolescenceAdolescence describes the teenage years between 13 and 19 and can be considered the transitional stage from childhood toadulthood. However, the physical and psychological changes that occur in adolescence can start earlier, during the preteen or"tween" years (ages 9-12). Adolescence can be a time of both disorientation and discovery. The transitional period can bring upissues of independence and self-identity. Sometimes adolescents may be experimenting with drugs and alcohol or sexuality. Duringthis time, peer groups and external appearance tend to increase in importance. contribute to society in countless, influential ways. They publish newspapers and magazines, run businesses, and serveas leaders in schools and communities. Some manage households; some care for younger siblings or ailing parents. Many work longdays in factories and in fields.Bursting with vitality, curiosity and spirit, young people have the potential to help advance the world.They can educate their peers about lifes challenges and the dangers of high-risk behaviour: about protecting themselves fromdiseases such as HIV/AIDS, for example. They can help others like themselves break cycles of violence and discrimination.UNICEF works with and for adolescents to involve them in life-affirming activities. When they are appreciated as sources of energy,imagination and passion, young people flourish and so their communities flourish. developmentThe development of children ages 12 through 18 years old is expected to include predictable physical and mental milestones.InformationDuring adolescence, children develop the ability to: Understand abstract ideas, such as higher math concepts, and develop moral philosophies, including rights and privileges Establish and maintain satisfying relationships by learning to share intimacy without feeling worried or inhibited Move toward a more mature sense of themselves and their purpose Question old values without losing their identityPHYSICAL DEVELOPMENTDuring adolescence, young people go through many changes as they move from childhood into physical maturity. Early,prepubescent changes occur when the secondary sexual characteristics appear.Girls: Girls may begin to develop breast buds as early as 8 years old. Breasts develop fully between ages 12 and 18. Pubic hair, armpit and leg hair usually begin to grow at about age 9 or 10, and reach adult patterns at about 13 to 14 years. Menarche (the beginning of menstrual periods) typically occurs about 2 years after early breast and pubic hair appear. It may occur as early as age 10, or as late as age 15. The average age of menstruation in the United States is about 12.5 years. Girls have a rapid growth in height between ages 9.5 and 14.5, peaking at around age 12.Boys: Boys may begin to notice that their testicles and scrotum grow as early as age 9. Soon, the penis begins to lengthen. By age 16 or 17, their genitals are usually at their adult size and shape. Adolescence 1
  2. 2. Pubic hair growth -- as well as armpit, leg, chest, and facial hair -- begins in boys at about age 12, and reaches adult patterns at about 15 to 16 years. Boys do not start puberty with a sudden incident, like the beginning of menstrual periods in girls. Having regular nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) marks the beginning of puberty in boys. Wet dreams typically start between ages 13 and 17, with the average at about 14.5 years. Boys voices change at the same time as the penis grows. Nocturnal emissions occur with the peak of the height spurt.BEHAVIORThe sudden and rapid physical changes that adolescents go through make adolescents very self-conscious, sensitive, and worriedabout their own body changes. They may make painful comparisons about themselves with their peers.Because physical changes may not occur in a smooth, regular schedule, adolescents may go through awkward stages, both abouttheir appearance and physical coordination. Girls may be anxious if they are not ready for the beginning of their menstrual periods.Boys may worry if they do not know about nocturnal emissions.During adolescence, it is normal for young people to begin to separate from their parents and establish their own identity. In somecases, this may occur without a problem from their parents and other family members. However, in some families, the adolescentsrebellion may lead to conflict as the parents try to keep control.As adolescents pull away from their parents in a search for their own identity, their friends become more important. Their peer group may become a safe haven, in which the adolescent can test new ideas. In early adolescence, the peer group usually consists of non-romantic friendships, often including "cliques," gangs, or clubs. Members of the peer group often try to act alike, dress alike, have secret codes or rituals, and participate in the same activities. As the youth moves into mid-adolescence (14 to 16 years) and beyond, the peer group expands to include romantic friendships.In mid- to late adolescence, young people often feel the need to establish their sexual identity by becoming comfortable with theirbody and sexual feelings. Through romantic friendships, dating, and experimentating, adolescents learn to express and receiveintimate or sexual advances. Young people who do not have the opportunity for such experiences may have more difficulty withintimate relationships when they are adults.Adolescents usually have behaviors that are consistent with several myths of adolescence: The first myth is that they are "on stage" and other peoples attention is constantly centered on their appearance or actions. This normal self-centeredness may appear (especially to adults) to border on paranoia, self-love (narcissism), or even hysteria. Another myth of adolescence is the idea that "it will never happen to me, only the other person." "It" may represent becoming pregnant or catching a sexually-transmitted disease after having unprotected sex, causing a car crash while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or any of the many other negative effects of risk-taking behaviors.SAFETYAdolescents become stronger and more independent before theyve developed good decision-making skills. A strong need for peerapproval may entice a young person to try dangerous feats, or take part in risk-taking behaviors.Motor vehicle safety should be stressed, focusing on the roles of the driver/passenger/pedestrian, the risks of substance abuse, andthe importance of using seat belts. Adolescents should not have the privilege of using cars and recreational motor vehicles unlessthey can show that they can use these vehicles safely.Other safety issues are: Adolescence 2
  3. 3. Adolescents who are involved in sports should learn to use equipment and protective gear or clothing. They should be taught the rules of safe play and healthy approaches to activities that require more advanced skills. Young people need to be very aware of possible dangers -- including sudden death -- which may occur with regular substance abuse, and with the experimental use of drugs and alcohol. Adolescents who are allowed to use or have access to firearms need to learn how to use them safely, properly, and legally.If adolescents appear to be isolated from their peers, uninterested in school or social activities, or doing poorly at school, work, orsports -- they need to be evaluated.Many adolescents are at increased risk for depression and potential suicide attempts, because of pressures and conflicts in theirfamily, school or social organizations, peer groups, and intimate relationships.PARENTING TIPS ABOUT SEXUALITYAdolescents usually need privacy to understand the changes taking place in their bodies. Ideally, they should be allowed to havetheir own bedroom. If this is not possible, they should have at least some private space.Teasing an adolescent child about physical changes is inappropriate, because it may cause self-consciousness and embarrassment.Parents need to remember that it is natural and normal for their adolescent to be interested in body changes and sexual topics. Itdoes not mean that their child is involved in sexual activity.Adolescents may experiment with or consider a wide range of sexual orientations or behaviors before feeling comfortable with theirown sexual identity. Parents must be careful not to call new behaviors "wrong," "sick," or "immoral."The Oedipal complex (a childs attraction to the parent of the opposite sex) is common during the adolescent years. Parents can dealwith this by acknowledging the childs physical changes and attractiveness -- and taking pride in the youths growth into maturity --without crossing parent-child boundaries.It is normal for the parent to find the adolescent attractive, especially because the teen often looks very much like the other (same-sex) parent did at a younger age. This attraction may cause the parent to feel awkward. The parent should be careful not to create adisconnect that may make the adolescent feel responsible. It is inappropriate for a parents attraction to a child to be anything morethan an attraction as a parent. Attraction that crosses the parent-child boundaries may lead to inappropriately intimate behaviorwith the adolescent, which is known as incest.INDEPENDENCE AND POWER STRUGGLESThe teenagers quest to become independent is a normal part of development. The parent should not see it as a rejection or loss ofcontrol over the child. Parents need to be constant and consistent. They should be available as a sounding board for the youthsideas, without dominating the childs newly independent identity.Although adolescents always challenge authority figures, they need or want limits, which provide a safe boundary for them to growand function. Limit-setting means having pre-set rules and regulations about their behavior.Power struggles begin when authority is at stake or "being right" is the main issue. These situations should be avoided, if possible.One of the parties (typically the teen) will be overpowered, causing the youth to lose face. This can cause the adolescent to feelembarrassed, inadequate, resentful, and bitter.Parents should be ready for and recognize common conflicts that may develop while parenting adolescents. The experience may beaffected by unresolved issues from the parents own childhood, or from the adolescents early years.Parents should know that their adolescents will repeatedly challenge their authority. Keeping open lines of communication andclear, yet negotiable, limits or boundaries may help reduce major conflicts.Most parents feel like they have more wisdom and self-growth as they rise to the challenges of parenting adolescents. Adolescence 3
  4. 4. Alternative NamesDevelopment - adolescent; Growth and development - adolescent and AdolescencePuberty is the time in which sexual and physical characteristics mature. It occurs due to hormone changes. The changes allow you tobecome capable of reproduction.Adolescence is the period between puberty and adulthood.InformationThe exact age a child enters puberty depends on a number of different things, such as a persons genes, nutrition, and gender.During puberty, various endocrine glands produce hormones that cause body changes and the development of secondary sexcharacteristics. In girls, the ovaries begin to increase production of estrogen and other female hormones. In boys, the testiclesincrease production of testosterone.The adrenal glands produce hormones that cause increased armpit sweating, body odor, acne, and armpit and pubic hair. Thisprocess is called adrenarche. The adolescent may find that an underarm deodorant or antiperspirant becomes necessary.PUBERTY IN GIRLSBreast development is the main sign that a girl is entering puberty. This will be followed by the first menstrual period (menarche).Before having the first menstrual period, a girl will normally have: An increase in height Pubic, armpit, and leg hair growth Clear or whitish vaginal secretions Increased hip sizeMenstrual cycles occur over about one month (28 to 32 days). At first, the menstrual periods typically are irregular. The girl may go 2months between periods, or may have two periods in 1 month. Over time, they become more regular.After menstruation starts, the ovaries begin to produce and release eggs, which have been stored in the ovaries since birth. Aboutevery month after menstruation starts, an ovary releases an egg, called an ovum. The egg travels down a tube (Fallopian tube),which connects the ovary to the womb. When the egg reaches the womb, the lining becomes thick with blood and fluid. Thishappens so that if the egg is fertilized, it can grow and develop in the lining to produce a baby. (It is important to remember thatfertility comes before emotional maturity and pregnancy can occur before an adolescent is prepared for parenthood.)If the egg does not meet with sperm from a male and is not fertilized, it dissolves. The thickened lining sloughs off and formsmenstrual blood flow, which passes out of the body through the vagina. In between the menstrual periods, there may be a clear orwhitish vaginal discharge. This is normal.Keeping track of when your period occurs and how long it lasts can help you predict when you should have your next menstrualperiod.During or just before each period, the girl may feel moody or emotional, and her body may feel puffy or swollen (bloated). PMS(premenstrual syndrome) may begin to develop, especially as the girl gets older.In girls, puberty is usually complete by age 17. Any increases in height beyond this age are uncommon. Although full physicalmaturity has been reached at this time, educational and emotional maturity remain ongoing. Adolescence 4
  5. 5. PUBERTY IN BOYSUnlike girls, there is no clearcut sign that tells a boy that he has entered puberty. However, boys will normally experience: Faster growth, especially height Increased shoulder width Growth of the penis, scrotum (accompanied by reddening and folding of the skin), and testes Voice changes Pubic, beard, and armpit hair growth Nighttime ejaculations (nocturnal emissions or "wet dreams")The testes constantly produce sperm. While some sperm can be stored in a structure called the epididymis, the stored sperm areoccasionally released as part of the normal process to make room for new sperm. This can occur automatically during sleep(nocturnal emissions) or following masturbation or sexual intercourse. Nocturnal emissions are a normal part of puberty.ADOLESCENCEAdolescence is the time between the beginning of sexual maturation (puberty) and adulthood. It is a time of psychologicalmaturation, which a person becomes "adult-like" in behavior.Adolescence is roughly considered to be the period between 13 and 19 years of age. The adolescent experiences not only physicalgrowth and change but also emotional, psychological, social, and mental change and growth. TO ADOLESCENCEIn the transition to adolescence, young people experience the intense and uneven physical and emotional changes associated withpuberty. They make the shift from elementary school to high school. They increase their autonomy and begin to set a moreindependent life course.Young adolescents are in search of self-identity. The peer group becomes increasingly important to that search and adolescents feelan intense need to belong. Peer pressure and gender differences increase. Adolescents experience a strong desire to experimentwith new behaviours in their attempt to understand who they are.As children approach and enter adolescence, school and community influences begin to compete with the home environment as keyfactors in their lives. Broader community influences, such as the mass media, become increasingly important influences on theirattitudes and behaviours. Each setting — where young people live, learn, work, play and worship — provides opportunities for youthto strengthen both their identities and their social, emotional and intellectual competencies.While this section focuses on the transition to adolescence, many of the conditions that affect this transition come into play in theearlier school years. Thus, this section includes some information about initiatives and conditions in the earlier years that are knownto positively or negatively affect the transition to adolescence.Young people who make a healthy transition to adolescence exhibit the following characteristics: They have a positive, secure and integrated identity. They exhibit social competency and strong interpersonal skills, including cordial relationships with family members. They have a commitment to learning and to participating in school. They make healthy, appropriate behaviour choices. They can adapt to change and are learning to cope with adversity.To achieve these outcomes, children and adolescents need to learn the required knowledge and skills. More importantly, they needsupportive environments at home, in school and in the community that provide clearly defined boundaries, and the support ofpeople who love them. Adolescence 5
  6. 6. developmentA critical transitionWHO identifies adolescence as the period in human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood,from ages 10 to19. It represents one of the critical transitions in the life span and is characterized by a tremendous pace in growthand change that is second only to that of infancy. Biological processes drive many aspects of this growth and development, with theonset of puberty marking the passage from childhood to adolescence. The biological determinants of adolescence are fairlyuniversal; however, the duration and defining characteristics of this period may vary across time, cultures, and socioeconomicsituations. This period has seen many changes over the past century namely the earlier onset of puberty, later age of marriage,urbanization, global communication, and changing sexual attitudes and behaviors.Key developmental experiencesThe process of adolescence is a period of preparation for adulthood during which time several key developmental experiencesoccur. Besides physical and sexual maturation, these experiences include movement toward social and economic independence, anddevelopment of identity, the acquisition of skills needed to carry out adult relationships and roles, and the capacity for abstractreasoning. While adolescence is a time of tremendous growth and potential, it is also a time of considerable risk during which socialcontexts exert powerful influences.Pressures to engage in high risk behaviourMany adolescents face pressures to use alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs and to initiate sexual relationships at earlier ages, puttingthemselves at high risk for intentional and unintentional injuries, unintended pregnancies, and infection from sexually transmittedinfections (STIs), including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Many also experience a wide range of adjustment and mentalhealth problems. Behavior patterns that are established during this process, such as drug use or nonuse and sexual risk taking orprotection, can have long-lasting positive and negative effects on future health and well-being. As a result, during this process,adults have unique opportunities to influence young people.Adolescents are different both from young children and from adults. Specifically, adolescents are not fully capable of understandingcomplex concepts, or the relationship between behavior and consequences, or the degree of control they have or can have overhealth decision making including that related to sexual behaviour. This inability may make them particularly vulnerable to sexualexploitation and high-risk behaviours. Laws, customs, and practices may also affect adolescents differently than adults. For example,laws and policies often restrict access by adolescents to reproductive health information and services, especially when they areunmarried. In addition, even when services do exist, provider attitudes about adolescents having sex often pose a significant barrierto use of those services.Family and community are key supportsAdolescents depend on their families, their, communities, schools, health services and their workplaces to learn a wide range ofimportant skills that can help them to cope with the pressures they face and make the transition from childhood to adulthoodsuccessfully. Parents, members of the community, service providers, and social institutions have the responsibility to both promoteadolescent development and adjustment and to intervene effectively when problems arise. Adolescence 6