Developing a Sense of Identity
Identity includes two concepts. First is self-concept: the set of beliefs one has about oneself. This includes beliefs about one’s attributes (e.g., tall, intelligent), roles and goals (e.g., occupation one wants to have when grown), and interests, values, and beliefs (e.g., religious, political). Second is self-esteem, which involves evaluating how one feels about one’s self-concept.
Identity development as well as moral development occurs in the context of relating to others (Jordan, 1994). All adolescents must begin to master the emotional skills necessary to manage stress and be sensitive and effective in relating to other people. These skills have been called “emotional intelligence” (Goleman, 1994). Emotional intelligence involves self-awareness, but above all, relationship skills—the ability to get along well with other people and to make friends.
One of the most obvious changes in adolescence is that the hub around which the adolescent’s world revolves shifts from the family to the peer group.
Puberty and Sexual Development
Entering puberty heralds the physical changes of adolescence: a growth spurt and sexual maturation.
Physical Appearance and Body Image
Regardless of the timing of the physical changes that take place during adolescence, this is a period in which physical appearance commonly assumes paramount importance
Moral development refers to the development of a sense of values and ethical behavior. Adolescents’ cognitive development, in part, lays the groundwork for moral reasoning, honesty, and prosocial behaviors such as helping, volunteerism, or caring for others (Eisenberg, Carlo, Murphy, & Van Court, 1995).
Adolescence is a trying time for most families and children. There are so many changes that happen during this time that when as a parent, you go from knowing your child to feeling like, "who is this child?", it can be very frustrating. For the adolescent, they often feel like no one understands who they are or all the changes that they are going through. They often get a "bad rap" and are frequently seen in a negative light. With all of the attention given to negative images of adolescents, however, the positive aspects of adolescents can be overlooked. Professionals can play an important role in shifting the perceptions of adolescents to something more favorable. The truth is, adolescents, despite their occasional or numerous protests, need and want adults to be part of their lives; recognizing that they can nurture, teach, guide, and protect them on the journey to adulthood. Directing the courage and creativity of normal adolescents into healthy pursuits is part of what successful counseling, teaching, or mentoring an adolescent is all about.
Some of the Changes and Necessary Mastery for Adolescents
Which direction is your child headed?