Running head: MIDDLE CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE DEVELOPMENT
Effects of Adolescence Stage on Development
According to Moggler (2009), adolescence marks the period of transition from a more predictable and secure period of childhood to the more challenging responsibilities and privileges of adulthood. This stage is usually marked by various developmental changes in all spheres of life. The most phenomenal changes thsat occur during adolescence are the physical changes. Though they occur at different stages in different people during this stage, they generally start earlier in girls than in boys. Depending on the individual, they can start at 11 or 12 years in girls and on average about 13 years in boys (Moggler, 2009). These developmental changes are brought about by changes in the levels of hormones secreted by the pituitary gland. These hormones are important in regulating growth in both height and weight. They are also responsible for growth and developmental changes associated with the reproductive system.
During adolescence, growth is marked by relatively rapid increase in body size and shape. These changes in body size and appearance usually exert a great effect on the identity as well as self esteem of the individual during this stage. Growth in the reproductive system is marked by the development of both primary and secondary sexual characteristics in both boys and girls. The changes associated with the primary and secondary reproductive organs can affect the individual’s behavior and even the relationship between the adolescent and others. In addition to physical growth, adolescents undergo cognitive changes which generally exert an affect on the thinking ability, and reasoning. These changes result from brain developmental changes as it grows and changes rapidly during this stage. Adolescents usually become innovative, more attentive, focused and tend to develop a strategic approach in dealing with problems. They also seek to discover t their abilities, be recognized by other members of the family as well as by peers. This contributes immensely to the emergence of peer relationship and even pressures associated with these peer relationships.
Peer relationships form a significant part of adolescence life and are usually attributed to a feeling of autonomy during this stage. Often during this stage, adolescents tend to have a sense of feeling that they no longer need parental guidance in every aspect of their life including selection of the peers they relate to. During the late childhood and early adolescence, there is usually a tendency to allocated more time and attach more significance to peer members than to parents and other family members. Usually during this stage, there is peer labeling whereby people tend to identify and group themselves on the basis of ethnic or tribal affiliations, abilities, interests or talents as well as social status among others. During the middle childhood all through to the early stages of adolescence, there is increased interest to engage in peer activities like sports, peer parties and dances among others. Though some of these peer activities tend to be between members of the same sex, often there exists both internal and external persuasion to engage in relationships of the opposite sex.
The most remarkable of all peer relationships is the inclination towards members of the opposite sex which results from gender segregation. Early adolescence is usually marked by preoccupation and attraction to members of the opposite sex. There is usually an evolution of romantic relationships characterized by an inclination on sexual activity. The climax of the demand for relationships with opposite sex is marked at puberty. This is attributed to participation in social activities like opposite sex parties and even influence by some programs in the mass media. Friendships that exist during this stage tend to be dynamic in nature as well as intimate and the significance attached to them grows with age. Owing to the significance attached to these relationships, the relationships formed between adolescents and peers who have undesirable behaviors like drug abuse and delinquency, are the leading causes of behavior compromise during this stage (Maggs and Schulenberg, 1999). However the consequences of peer relationships tend to exhibit some form of correlation as those who are involved in romantic relationships tend to have a higher tendency to engage in drug use and delinquency behavior.
Most of the perceptions that exist regarding adolescence peer pressure are associated with negative strong influences. According to Miller (2000), peer pressure is believed to be any form of external power, explicit or implicit that operates directly or indirectly on others behavior. Explicit power involver persuasion by another member of the peer to engage in delinquent behavior or take drugs. Implicit behavior results from development of group norms and desire to seek group identity and conform to the group norms. The relatively decreased family support during this stage leads to increase in the amount of influence by others in order to fill this vacuum. As these group norms take center stage, they automatically exert pressure on the individual in an effort to seek approval from others. During the adolescence stage, males have been found to be more susceptible to peer group pressure than females (Miller, 2000). Often, adolescents would turn to smoking or drink in order to seek recognition from their peers even when there is conflict between them and their parents. Most adolescents are introduced to drug use by their peers. Desire for romantic relationships and dating usually begins during pre and early adolescence and can be attributed to sexual growth and hormonal changes. They can range from the very casual relationships to even more stable ones and can be influenced by several factors which include; the nature of parental guidance, culture and environment as well, as the biological maturity of the individual.
Maggs, J. & Schulenberg, J. (1999). Health Risks and Developmental Transitions during Adolescence. London: Cambridge University press.
Miller, M. A. (2000). Adolescence: Relationships and Drug use. Newyork: Routledge publishers.
Moggler, C. (2009). Adolescence: The Physical, Cognitive, Social, Personality, Moral; and Faith Development of Adolescence. Norderstedt: Grin Verlag.