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Essay on adolescence: top 5 essays | psychology.


Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Adolescence’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Adolescence’ especially written for school and college students.

Essay on Adolescence

Essay Contents:

  • Essay on the Meaning of Adolescence
  • Essay on the Historical Perspectives of Adolescence
  • Essay on the Developmental Model in Adolescence
  • Essay on the Factors Influencing Development During Adolescence
  • Essay on Developmental Psychopathology during the Period of Adolescence

Essay # 1. Meaning of Adolescence :

Adolescence is a time of rapid physiological and psychological change of intensive readjustment to the family, school, work and social life and of preparation for adult roles.

It starts with puberty and ends with the achievement of an adult work role. It usually begins between 11 and 16 years in boys and between 9 and 16 years in girls. Websters’ dictionary (1977) defines adolescence the ‘process of growing up’ or the ‘period of life from puberty to maturity’. Adolescence has been associated with an age span, varying from 10-13 as the starting age and 19-21 as the concluding age, depending on whose definition is being applied.

Essay # 2. Historical Perspectives of Adolescence :

The concept of adolescence was formally inducted in psychology from 1880. The definitive description of adolescence was given in the two volume work of Stanley Hall in 1904. Hall described adolescence as a period both of upheaval, suffering, passion and rebellion against adult authority and of physical, intellectual and social change.

Anna Freud, Mohr and Despres and Bios have independently affirmed adolescent regression, psychological upheaval, and turbulence as intrinsic to normal adolescence development. Margaret Mead believed adolescence as a ‘cultural invention’.

Albert Bandura said that children and adolescents imitate the behaviour of others especially influential adults ‘entertainment’ heroes and peers. Erikson elaborated the classic psychoanalytic views shifting the emphasis from biological imperatives of the entry into adolescence to focus on psychological challenges in making the transition from adolescence to adulthood (developmental model discussed below).

Piaget proposed a theory of cognitive development describing four major stages in intellectual development. Puberty is a universal process involving dramatic changes in size, shape and appearance. Tanner has described bodily changes of puberty into five stages. The enumeration of Tanner stages is given in Table 28.1.

The relationships between pubertal maturation and psychological development can be considered in two broad models,

(a) The ‘Direct Effect Model’ in which certain psychological effects are directly result of physiological sources,

(b) ‘Mediated Effects Model’ which proposes that the psychological effects of puberty are mediated by complex relations of intervening variables (such as the level of ego development) or are moderated by contexual factors (such as the socio-cultural and socialization practices). In recent days, this model is more favoured.

Essay # 3. Developmental Model in Adolescence :

Developmental theories of adolescence are:

(a) Cognitive development:

Jean Piaget described four distinct stages in the cognitive development from birth to adolescence.

(i) Sensory-motor stage:

Sensory-motor stage (from birth to 18 months) wherein the child acquires numerous basic skills with limited intellectual capacity and is primitive.

(ii) Preoperational or intuitive stage:

Preoperational or intuitive stage roughly starting at about 18 months and ending at 7 years, wherein the child learns to communicate and uses reason in an efficient way. However, he is still inclined to intuition rather than thinking out systematically.

(iii) Concrete-operations stage:

Concrete-operations stage (from 7 to 12 years) where the child becomes capable of appreciating the constancies and develops the concept of volume but thinking is still limited in some respects.

(iv) Formal operations stage:

Formal operations stage, (from 12 years through adulthood) in which the child develops the ability to ponder and deliberate on various alternatives, and begins to approach the problem situation in a truly systematic manner.

(b) Psychosocial development:

‘Identity’ and its precedents in development are the backbone of Erikson’s psychological developmental theory. Erikson’s theory is basically an amplification of Freud’s classical psychoanalytic theory of human development. However, Erikson lays more stress on the social than the biological features in the process of development. This theory is more humanistic and optimistic, and emphasizes the importance of ‘ego’ rather than ‘id’.

Erikson postulated eight stages of development, placing more importance on adolescence (Table 28.2).

His concept of identity crises has been recog­nised in all the countries faced with racial, national, personal and professional problems.

Psychodynamic Model :

Recent psychodynamic model focuses on adolescent development under various dimensions

Learning Model :

Learning theory has long played an important role in understanding of human behaviour. Three major learning paradigms are: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. The concepts of generalization and discrimination illustrate how learning theory can account for individuality of response styles and behaviour.

Phenomenological Model :

There are different schools of approach, including the phenomenological one.

Developmental Phases of Adolescence :

I. Early Adolescence :

Early adolescence is probably the most stressful of all developmental transitions. It is generally acknowledged that within the years of age from 11 to 15, a period of rapid and drastic biological change will be experienced.

The dominant themes of early adolescence are related to the endocrine changes of puberty. There are biological changes in virtually every system of the body, including height, facial contours, fat distribution, muscular development, mood changes, and energy levels.

Early adolescence is a time of sharpest possible discontinuity with the past.

There are two major psychosocial challenges that confront early adolescents:

(1) the transition from elementary to junior high school and

(2) the shift in role status from child to adolescent.

A useful distinction has been made between “hot” and “cold” cognitions. Hot cognitions are those that are highly charged with emotion and are involved in matters of perceived threat or in situations in which cherished goals or values are in conflict or jeopardy.

There is preoccupation with body image, with deep concerns about the normality, attractiveness, and vulnerability of the changing body. Superimposed are the challenges of entry into the new social world of the high school that pose new academic and personal challenges, especially regarding friendships. The early adolescents begin to search for new behaviours, values, and reference persons and to renegotiate relationships with parents. At this time they are particularly receptive to new ideas and risk taking.

II. Middle Adolescence :

It generally encompasses the ages 15 to 17.

The middle adolescents are capable of generalizations, abstract thinking and useful introspections that can be linked to experience. As a result there is less response simply to the novel, exotic, or contradictory aspects of the environment.

The anxious bodily preoccupations of early adolescence have greatly diminished. The power of peer pressure is lessened and more differentiated judgments can now be exercised in seeking and establishing close friendship ties.

The provocative rebelliousness of the early adolescent is no longer prominent. The middle adolescent is beginning to orient more to the larger society and to learn about and to question the workings of society, politics, and government.

III. Late Adolescence :

The ages represented are 17 years through the early 20s. It represents a definitive working through of the recurrent themes of body image, autonomy, achievement, intimacy, and sense of self that, when integrated, come to embody the sense of identity.

Although there may not be a work commitment, it is a time of thoughtful educational and vocational choices that will lead to eventual economic viability. The challenge of intimacy and the establishment of a stable, mature, committed intimate relationship is perceived as critical challenge.

Essay # 4. Factors Influencing Development during Adolescence:

I. Genetic Factors :

Leaving aside major diseases clearly transmitted by genes, such as Huntington’s chorea.

Genetic influences in psychiatry are characterised by:

(a) the inheritance of traits or tendencies rather than specific abnormalities,

(b) polygenic inheritance, that is to say more than one gene being influential,

(c) the concept of threshold effects (i.e., the presence of particular genes does not mean that the characteristic they represent will be exhibited).

II. Neurological Factors :

Brain Damage:

Various degrees of injury to the brain.

Mental Retardation:

Various degrees of intellectual deficit and general mental handicap.

This may or may not be associated with brain damage, mental handicap and psychiatric problems.

Neurological disorder:

Brain disorder, including neurodegenerative disorders.

III. Constitutional and Temperamental Factors :

If by personality, it is meant that more or less characteristic, coherent and enduring set of ways of thinking and behaving that develop through childhood and adolescence, then by constitution it means those inherited (genetic) and acquired physiological qualities that underlie personality.

IV. Family and Social Influences:

(a) Attachment, separation and loss:

Early experience of disrupted or discordant family relationships, or lack of parental affection, increases the incidence of emotional and personality problems later.

(b) Parental care and control:

It is the extremes of parental behaviour, e.g. excessive permissiveness, negligence, over-protectiveness and rigid discipline which tend to be associated with many of the problems in child and adolescent development.

The parental behaviours often associated with adolescent disturbance, and which when modified can help put things right include:

1. Lack of confidence about being adult and weakness at limit-setting;

2. Parental and marital distress;

3. Inability to provide the model of a reasonably competent adult who enjoys life;

4. Difficulty in maintaining appropriate roles and boundaries;

5. Difficulty in getting the balance right between being too protective and intrusive on the one hand or negligent and uninterested on the other;

6. Giving in too readily to adolescent demands, on the one hand, or not listening to the adolescent’s point of view on the other;

7. Becoming so upset by adolescent demands that the parent becomes childishly angry and vulnerable.

(c) Parental mental disorder:

In clinical practice, parental mental illness can have impact in three main ways:

(1) When it has been a feature of family life and interacting with the child’s problems for several years past;

(2) When it interferes with the developmental tasks of adolescence, for example when a depressed parent is thereby too vulnerable to the adolescent’s challenges; and

(3) When it interferes with treatment.

(d) Parental criminal behaviour

There is a strong association between delinquency in the child and criminality in the parent, and where both parents are criminal, the association is even stronger.

Again, poor parenting skills and family discord may be important linking factors. Modelling may be another factor.

(e) Family size and structure:

Children from large families (more than 5 children) tend to show a greater incidence of conduct problems, delinquency, lower verbal intelligence and lower reading attainment.

(f) Family patterns of behaviour:

Confused or conflicting communication in families, problems in resolving arguments or making decisions, and the generation of high levels of tension do seem to be associated with child disturbance in general.

(g) Adoption, fostering and institutional care:

There is an increased rate of psychiatric disorder among adopted children, with conduct disorder among adopted boys being most prominent.

Institutional care, the placement of children and adolescents in children’s homes, is associated with a higher rate of disturbance than in the general population.

(h) The effects of schools:

Wolkind and Rutter have listed features of schools which have a positive effect on their pupils: high expectations for work and behaviour; good models of behaviour from teachers; respect for the children, with opportunities for them to take responsibilities in the school; good discipline, with appropriate praise and encouragement and sparing use of punishment; a pleasant working environment with good teacher-pupil relationships; and a good organizational structure that enables staff to work together with agreed academic and other goals.

(i) Social and transcultural influences:

Life in inner city areas seems in general to increase the rate of behaviour problems compared with small towns and rural areas. Similar influences, plus and effects on the family of immigration and unemployment and prejudice affect adolescents. Unemployment among adolescents is associated with an increase in psychiatric problems.

The effects of film and television violence have now being widely studied. There seems to be a modelling and imitative effect, particularly in younger children and among adolescents who already show conduct problems and delinquency.


Assessment in adolescent psychiatry requires a far wider appraisal of who is concerned about what, and who is in a position to help, than the traditional clinical diagnosis can possibly provide. See Table 28.3.

Prevalence of Disorders in the Community :

The prevalence of adolescent disorder in the community varies from place to place and with age, and depends on the criteria used. The figures given vary between around 10 and 25%. The lower end of the range is associated with younger adolescents with recognised (i.e., known to adults) psychiatric problem in more rural or sub-urban areas, and the upper figures are associated with older adolescents, with industrial and inner-city areas and with the inclusion of problems not so evident to parents and teachers.

Disorders seen in clinical practice :

Table 28.4 is a composite picture of the types of disorder likely to be seen in general psychiatric service for adolescents, and is based on data drawn from several accounts.

(a) Clinical diagnostic categories (in approximate order of frequency) :

Mood disorders:

Emotional or mixed emotional/ contact disorders, or adult-type anxiety or depressive disorders, including obsessive compulsive phobic state.

Conduct Disorders:

Hysterical disorders e.g., with paralysis and serious self-neglect.

Problems of personality development with mood and/or conduct problems, including ‘borderline’ and schizoid personality disorders, and problems of sexual identity.

Schizophrenic, Schizoaffective and affective (manic-depressive) psychoses.

Brain disorder, including epilepsy, and neurodegenerative disorder.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, enuresis, encopresis, and tics

(b) Changes in prevalence with age and sex:

The overall pattern seems to be a gradually increasing prevalence of psychiatric disorder from around 10% in children through 10 to 15% in mid- adolescence to around 20% in adulthood although some studies report a peak of about 20% being reached in adolescence.

In adolescence, enuresis and encopresis are less common than in earlier childhood. Hyperactivity presents less often, but children who have been hyperactive in earlier childhood sometimes present in adolescence with behavioural and other social problems.

In earlier childhood, equal numbers of girls and boys are affected by emotional disorders. In adolescence, however, as in adult life, more girls than boys are affected.

Delinquency increases markedly in adolescence and declines from early adulthood onwards.

Essay # 5. Developmental Psychopathology during the Period of Adolescence :

(a) Mood Fluctuations and Misery :

The general observation that adolescents experience a greater fluctuation of mood that adults has been demonstrated rather consistently. The feelings of transient misery and sadness reported by adolescents can be explained by several bases.

The Offer Self-image Questionnaire, administered to thousands of adolescents from 1962-1980, showed a significant upward shift of scores of depressive mood from the 1960’s to the 1970’s for both boys and girls.

Although relationships with parents may remain intact, the security experienced by identifying with the idealized parental image is sacrificed as the youth moves toward development of a separate identity.

Eventually, with the synthesis of these different value systems, the adolescent’s behaviour takes on an increasingly external and internal consistency. The wide array of conflicting societal values in regard to a youth’s engaging in sex becoming pregnant, having an abortion, bearing a child, or participating in homosexual behaviour provides numerous opportunities for remorse.

An additional factor that may draw the adolescent to a sexual relationship inspite of conflicting values is the relative emotional void produced as some distance is gained from the parent.

Among the adolescents these kinds of temporary setbacks may lead to an array of behaviours that erroneously have been termed clinical depression. These include a hypersensitivity and irritability, with a proneness to overreact to criticism. At times the adolescent may “tune out” temporarily and withdraw into a position of apathy and indifference.

At times there is a propensity to move from a passive to an active position in response to feelings of helplessness, and the adolescent may take provocative positions that elicit a punitive response from his environment. This punishment may provide a welcome relief from an immature harsh superego. For many clinicians such behaviour is summarised as adolescent turmoil.

However, the steeply rising suicide rates and the high prevalence of true adolescent depression is particularly poignant and of deep concern. It is estimated that there are 100 suicide attempts for every completed suicide. Surveys reveal that 8% to 10% of all adolescents report suicidal feelings.

(b) Sexual and Adolescent Pregnancy:

The recent significant rise in level of sexual activity among adolescents and the trend toward increasingly younger ages of initiation is well documented.

Clear documentation exists as to the biological and psychosocial risk to both mother and child in adolescent pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. The obstetrics complications, high rates of infant mortality, and perinatal morbidity have been well described. Similarly, there is excellent documen­tation for the social isolation, inadequate parenting skills, school drop-outs, repeat pregnancy, and chronic poverty that characterises these mothers.

(c) Developmental Issues in Drug Abuse:

If the drugs are used as a way to avoid tension and if this is done chronically, the youth’s capacity to tolerate tension and to gain in ego strength by working through stressful situations will be under developed. Drugs may thus have long term effects on important areas of ego functioning that are ordinarily developed during adolescence.

The problem behaviours of youth that are highly interrelated with regular drug use include delinquency, alcoholism, decreased school motivation and achievement, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy.

The factors associated with drug abuse can be divided into three categories:

(1) Personality factors;

(2) Social or interpersonal factors; and

(3) Sociocultural or Environmental factors.

Personal factors include an emphasis on unconventionality, rebelliousness, high risk taking, low value on achievement, and high value on autonomy. Social or interpersonal factors include alienation from parents, high influence from peers involved in problem behaviours, and little involvement in religious activities. Sociocultural factors include low social controls, disorganized environment and permissive values.

(d) Impact of Chronic Illness on Development:

During puberty, chronic illness of childhood is re-experienced as a distinct and significant adolescent phenomenon. With the major bodily changes of early adolescence and the concomitant free occupation with body image a long term illness is repraised and becomes a threat to body integrity and self-concept.

During a period typically characterized by developmental urges toward independence, the stress of illness can led to exaggerated wishes for dependence, security and nurturance on the one hand or led to denial and hyper independent, rebellious and non-compliant risk taking behaviour on the other hand. Overprotectiveness of concerned parents can aggravate any or all of these conflicts. Chronic illness may actually delay the onset of puberty.

(e) Parent-adolescent estrangement and social alienation:

Hostility and conflict with parents or substitute caregivers is a frequent presenting feature of adolescent disturbance. Parents may complain about the adolescent’s expressions of anger and defiance of unmanageable behaviour. Angry outbursts and temper tantrums occur frequently in young adolescents coping for the first time with biological changes and increasing academic and family responsibilities.

Psychiatrically disturbed adolescents, however, are likely to be involved in chronic conflict with parents who, in turn, may display psychopathology in relationships with their children, marital discord or personal psychiatric disorder.

Conflict and defiance may extend to such a serious level that there is a complete breakdown of trust and communication with parents.

(f) Anti-authority and antisocial behaviour:

Antisocial behaviour in adolescents may have arisen initially in this age-period or have continued from childhood.

Shoplifting, vandalizing public property, or spraying graffiti may occur transiently in groups of discontended teenagers who are not established delinquents.

(g) Problems in School:

The most common manifestations of adolescent disturbance in school are: disenchantment with conventional education often leading to truancy and showing other evidence of antisocial activity and conduct disorder. School refusal, usually associated with other signs of emotional disorder. Academic problems including examination anxiety, difficulties with study and academic under achievement; and disruptive behaviour, with negative attitudes towards the staff, conformity problems, bullying and association with delinquent peers.

Therapeutic Approach to Adolescent Disturbance:

Although there may be little scope or necessity for active psychiatric treatment, systematic management of interpersonal, social, educational, legal and ethical problems may be necessary and can be challenging and time consuming. These aspects of management call for full multi-disciplinary teamwork, consultation with other professionals and carefully integrated planning.

Hospitalisation and Residential Care:

Great care needs to be exercised in using residential resources, in view of the implications for adolescents of separation from home and the limited nature of residential provisions.

Psychiatric in-patient hospital treatment:

Steinberg et al have distinguished six needs to related to requests for admission, comprising the need for further work to be done with adults already involved for detailed educational reappraisal, for proper care and control, for physical containment, for an emergency safe place, for psychiatric assessment and treatment.

The role of the multidisciplinary staff and their deployment in treatment should be directed towards vigorous, short-term intervention minimizing the problems of institutionalization.

Non-psychiatric residential care of adolescents:

Disturbed adolescents may be placed in a miscellany of settings in addition to facilities administered by the National Health Service, including: schools and units for maladjusted children; independent boarding schools; children’s homes run by social service and voluntary agencies; observation and assessment centers; community homes with education, remand homes, detention centers, and borstals.

Therapeutic Work with Adolescents:

Apart from the use of antidepressant drugs in carefully selected cases of depressive disorder, the occasional use of lithium in affective psychoses and major tranquillizers in psychotic states, most adolescent disturbances can be managed without psychotropic medication.

Acute disturbance as part of personality disorder or other nonpsychotic states may warrant the use of major tranquillizers at the time of crisis, but they should not be relied upon for long term behavioural control. Hypnotics and minor tranquillizers of the Benzodiazepine group are rarely indicated and particular caution should be exercised in their prescription, in view of the scale of self- poisoning in adolescents.

The most frequent forms of individual interven­tion are psychotherapeutic, including behavioural techniques.

Supportive counselling, with an explicit educa­tional component, may be indicated in the treatment.

Parental and family work:

Some form of specific work with the parents or families of disturbed adolescents is usually required and it may be an advantage to allocate a therapist to work chiefly with them.

Most adolescents are likely to accept that family sessions are an appropriate medium for dealing with issues that are public in the sense, that they impinge on all family members.

School liaison:

Information from the school or school psycholo­gical service may be essential in assessment and planned liaison about aspects of management may be useful therapeutically, as well as providing a way of monitoring progress.

Legal Aspects of Care and Community Services :

The adolescent psychiatrist needs to be familiar with all the legislation that affects adolescent patient care. In particular, it is important to be aware of the various forms of disposal for young offenders.

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Adolescence , Essay , Essay on Adolescence , Psychology

Definition of Adolescence

This essay about adolescence explores the intricate and multifaceted nature of this transitional phase between childhood and adulthood. It into the biological, cognitive, emotional, and social dimensions of adolescence, highlighting its significance in human development. From the physical changes of puberty to the complexities of identity formation and social dynamics, the essay paints a vivid portrait of adolescence as a dynamic and transformative period in individuals’ lives. It underscores how adolescents navigate the challenges and opportunities of this stage, shaping their identities and aspirations amidst the ever-changing landscape of human experience.

How it works

Adolescence, that intriguing phase straddling the realms of childhood and adulthood, remains a nebulous concept, its definition as varied and nuanced as the individuals traversing its tumultuous terrain. Far from a mere chronological marker between puberty and legal adulthood, adolescence embodies a kaleidoscope of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social upheavals, each adding a unique hue to the canvas of human development.

Biologically, adolescence heralds the onset of a profound metamorphosis, as bodies undergo a symphony of changes orchestrated by the hormonal crescendo of puberty.

The once-flat landscape of childhood sprouts the foothills of secondary sexual characteristics, signaling the awakening of reproductive potential. Breasts bud, voices deepen, and limbs elongate, bearing witness to the silent dance of genetic destiny unfolding within each adolescent frame.

Yet, adolescence is not merely a narrative written in the language of biology; it is also a saga of cognitive evolution. Piaget’s theoretical scaffolding elucidates the adolescent mind’s ascent from the concrete to the abstract, from the shackles of rigid thought to the boundless expanse of hypothetical reasoning. Within this cognitive crucible, identity takes shape, morality finds its voice, and the contours of the self begin to coalesce amidst the swirling currents of existential inquiry.

Emotionally, adolescence is akin to a rollercoaster ride through the labyrinthine corridors of the psyche. Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory casts adolescence as a battlefield of identity formation, where the clash between self and society ignites the flames of self-discovery. Here, adolescents navigate the treacherous terrain of peer pressure, grapple with the tempests of self-doubt, and weather the storms of adolescent angst, emerging, perhaps, as the architects of their own destinies.

Socially, adolescence is a carnival of contradictions, where the pendulum swings between autonomy and belonging, individuation and conformity. Peers become the compass guiding adolescents through the maze of social norms, fashioning identities through the crucible of shared experiences, laughter, and tears. Yet, amidst the cacophony of cliques and peer groups, adolescents forge alliances, cultivate friendships, and carve out spaces of belonging in the ever-shifting landscape of adolescence.

Culturally, adolescence wears the garb of tradition and modernity, straddling the chasm between the past and the future. Rituals and rites of passage mark the transition from childhood to adulthood, imbuing adolescence with cultural significance and symbolic resonance. Yet, in an era of globalization and technological revolution, adolescence becomes a canvas upon which the brushstrokes of tradition and innovation converge, painting a portrait of the modern adolescent as a global citizen navigating the crosscurrents of tradition and change.

In the tapestry of contemporary Western societies, adolescence unfurls as a protracted symphony, its movements spanning the realms of education, employment, and identity exploration. Extended education, delayed marriage, and the proliferation of digital technologies redefine the contours of adolescence, transforming it into a liminal space between childhood and adulthood. Here, emerging adults navigate the labyrinth of higher education, chart their career trajectories, and grapple with the existential quandaries of identity and purpose, casting adolescence as a crucible of self-discovery and transformation.

In conclusion, adolescence defies facile definition, its essence as elusive as the shifting sands of time. Far from a static waypoint on the journey from cradle to grave, adolescence emerges as a dynamic and multifaceted stage of human development, embodying the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of each successive generation. As adolescents navigate the turbulent waters of self-discovery and identity formation, they embark upon a journey of transformation and growth, forging their own paths amidst the swirling currents of change.


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Insights on Adolescence from A Life Course Perspective

Monica kirkpatrick johnson.

Department of Sociology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4020

Robert Crosnoe

Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1700, Austin, TX 78712

Glen H. Elder, Jr.

Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 123 W. Franklin St., CB # 8120, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

In this essay, we argue that viewing adolescence within the full life course will improve our understanding of both adolescence itself and the life course more generally. Such an approach makes explicit how adolescence is linked to developmental processes in the years both before and after adolescence in ways that are shaped by broader patterns of social change. We highlight insights from research over the past decade that illustrate the kinds of life course questions about adolescence that need to be posed in the next decade, focusing on connections between adolescence and the two life stages that border it: childhood and young adulthood. Although life course themes cut across the many different topics that adolescence scholars typically study, we draw our examples from three specific substantive areas—educational success, puberty, and problem behavior.

The Society for Research on Adolescence is officially “devoted to research on the second decade of life.” In this spirit, its flagship journal has published important articles over the last ten years that, collectively, have advanced scientific understanding of adolescence as a unique stage of life. Without diminishing the impact of this work, we argue that it is equally important to elucidate the role of adolescence within the larger life course. In other words, our primary goal of understanding adolescence as a developmental period in its own right should come with a complementary goal of connecting insights about adolescence and its developmental processes to other life periods. These dual goals serve both our understanding of adolescence itself as well as the life course more generally. After all, a significant portion of the meaningfulness of adolescence lies in its power to translate childhood experiences into later competencies and statuses and then, in turn, to set up the transition to adulthood ( Steinberg & Morris, 2000 ).

In this essay, we make a case for this agenda by discussing insights emerging from multiple scientific disciplines over the last several years that suggest new questions that need to be asked and answered. We do so by focusing on the connection of adolescence to its two contiguous life stages—childhood and young adulthood—and, in the process, discussing three developmental issues that have long been at the forefront of research on adolescence: educational success, puberty, and problem behavior. Our intent is not to provide an exhaustive review of a decade’s research on these three issues but instead to highlight examples of each that we find especially revealing about the power of life course approaches to adolescence.

The Life Course Perspective and Adolescence

As background for this discussion, the life course refers to “the age-graded sequence of roles, opportunities, constraints, and events that shape the biography from birth to death” ( Shanahan & Macmillan 2008 :40). At its core, a life course perspective insists that development is lifelong and that no life stage can be understood in isolation from others. In doing so, it uniquely brings together many conceptual themes that are individually found in a variety of developmental and demographic perspectives ( Elder, Johnson, & Crosnoe, 2003 ). Three such themes are particularly relevant to our discussion.

One theme concerns continuity and discontinuity in life pathways —whether and how the development we observe during adolescence is embedded within stable trajectories across life stages or instead represents a major departure from past development and redirection of future development. Indeed, our discussion in this essay suggests that adolescence can exacerbate or buffer against early disadvantages or other childhood experiences in ways that affect adulthood. Experience in adolescence may also provide turning points that deflect earlier behavioral trajectories, and the unfolding of adolescence may allow for the accumulation of prior life advantages and risks that send young people on divergent paths into and through adulthood (refer back to Dragastin & Elder, 1975 for an early discussion of such issues).

Another conceptual theme draws attention to the role of individuals in their own development . Here, we delve into the complex ways in which young people select into personal experiences, interpersonal relationships, and social settings in ways that reflect their past and contribute to their futures. As we discuss, this process of selection of person occurs through the agentic strivings of individuals as well as through the interplay of environment and biology.

A final theme, the importance of historical change , is woven throughout our discussion. In general, the nature and meaning of adolescence is evolving, with a simultaneous acceleration of transitions into adult norms and values and prolongation of the achievement of autonomy for many segments of the population ( Settersten, Furstenberg & Rumbaut, 2005 ). The importance of historically informed approaches to adolescence is pronounced for the three topics that we have chosen to highlight here, in that the current historical moment has altered the landscape of education, puberty, and problem behavior. First, global economic restructuring has increased the lifelong returns to educational attainment to historic levels, thereby drastically increasing the long-term consequences of early academic experiences (Goldin & Katz, 2009). Second, the decline in age of puberty, especially among African-American girls, is a dramatic secular trend with implications for social behavior, fertility, and many other developmental domains as more and more young people have the appearance and reproductive capacities of adults without corresponding psychological and cognitive maturation ( Ellis, 2004 ). Third, the echo boom (i.e., the children of the Baby Boom) has resulted in a swelling of the adolescent population ( U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 ), which, given the age patterns of crime, has consequences for the delinquency rate and its associated policy and criminal justice responses ( O’Brien & Stockard, 2008 ). These historical considerations illustrate how—across nations and cultures—developmental processes are embedded in the broader currents of history. In linking adolescence to other life stages, therefore, such historical embeddedness has to be taken seriously (see Elder, 1980 , for an earlier discussion on adolescence in historical context).

Linking Adolescence to Childhood and Adulthood

In the last ten years, discussions about policies and programs on education, health, and other key domains of inequality in the U.S. have increasingly shifted away from adolescence to target childhood. Although largely centering on intervention, this same trend also has theoretical import ( Ludwig & Sawhill, 2007 ). It is exemplified by the arguments of economists (e.g., Heckman, 2006 ) that public investments in early childhood bring greater long-term returns than investments in adolescence. On one level, this growing emphasis on childhood relative to adolescence might be viewed as a threat to the status of research on adolescence. Yet, it can also be viewed another way—as a call for more research on the links between childhood and adolescence that enable a maximization of early investments, and of early experiences more generally (or a counterbalancing to a lack of early investments and experiences).

Social changes over the last several decades have also dramatically changed the transition from adolescence into young adulthood, and such change is reflected in policy discussions about key aspects of this transition (e.g., access to and affordability of higher education, the potential role of non-marriage in poverty). As the manufacturing sector has given way to a service and information economy, jobs providing steady working-class incomes and benefits have been disproportionately replaced by low-paying, unstable, jobs without benefits ( Morris & Western, 1999 ). Access to more secure and rewarding careers has increasingly required higher education. Indeed, wages for non-college graduates have dropped substantially, resulting in rising relative returns to a college degree ( Lemieux, 2006 ). Although adolescents and their parents are keenly aware of this trend and now almost universally aspire to earn college degrees ( Schneider & Stevenson, 1999 ; Bachman, Johnston & O’Malley, 2008 ), college enrollment and graduation rates have not kept pace ( Snyder, Dillow & Hoffman, 2008 ). That attainment has not increased more dramatically given the rising returns to and aspirations for college degrees reflects, in part, waning public financial support for higher education. Specifically, tuition has risen substantially as tax dollars have paid less and less of the cost of education, and the real value of financial aid options such as Pell Grants has eroded ( Kane, 2007 ).

In this changed landscape, young people are staying in school longer and marrying later, remaining in a semi-dependent state during young adulthood in ways once associated with late adolescence. Moreover, for those who do not pursue higher education or start, but do not complete, their degrees, the U.S. offers little institutional support for transitioning into the labor force ( Kerckhoff, 2002 ). Parents, especially those with more resources, increasingly support their children through this period financially and otherwise ( Schoeni & Ross, 2005 ). Such changes, reflected in contemporary discussions of “extended adolescence,” “delayed adulthood,” and “emerging adulthood,” have profound implications for what preparedness for adulthood now entails as well as what policies aimed at “successful” transitions into adulthood need to address.

Research on adolescence has long been motivated by the need to elucidate the implications of this stage for adulthood as well as its role as an endpoint of childhood. Fortunately, the last decade has witnessed substantial progress in understanding both issues.

Educational Success

The educational system offers a clear example of the growing theoretical and policy focus on childhood and the importance of incorporating linkages between childhood and adolescence into this focus. For decades, research on K-12 educational inequality was disproportionately concerned with secondary schooling, but the last decade has witnessed a renewed interest in the early origins of the well-documented cognitive and academic disparities in secondary school and, in turn, a greater appreciation of the years surrounding the start of formal schooling as a critical period in such disparities ( Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2005 ; Pianta, Cox, & Snow, 2007 ). The refinement of theoretical models of education and related empirical evidence has fueled a major policy agenda across the U.S. supporting publicly funded pre-school and other forms of early educational enrichment ( Fuller, 2007 ).

Yet, the pioneering work of Entwisle, Alexander, and colleagues that greatly shaped this research activity has, as the children of their Baltimore sample have grown up, demonstrated that holistic life course approaches to educational inequality across childhood and adolescence can shed more light on the child-environment transactions underlying such inequality than a focus on childhood or adolescence alone. For example, a clear picture emerging from their two-decade study is that socioeconomic disparities in children’s school readiness set in motion accumulating differences in schooling experiences that eventually result in lower levels of ability and academic competence at the start of high school. Those differences in academic skills then translate into differential curricular locations in high school that are key determinants of high school dropout and college enrollment ( Alexander, Entwisle, & Olson, 2007 ). In other words, differences in long-term educational trajectories can be traced to the transition into primary schooling itself, but the impact of disparities at that time work in conjunction with transitions to middle and high school during the adolescent years to have their full impact.

Another research program, focused on how schooling is combined with paid work, has similarly elucidated connections between adolescence and young adulthood, also with critical implications for educational attainment. It also exemplifies the role of individuals in their own development. Research by Mortimer and colleagues (e.g., Mortimer & Johnson, 1999 ; Staff & Mortimer, 2007 ; 2008 ) shows that patterns of employment and educational investment during high school are relevant beyond the debates about time use and risk behavior focused on adolescence. These patterns, defined by combinations of paid work duration (months of employment) and intensity (hours worked when employed) during high school, persist into the post-high school years and predict the completion of a Bachelor’s degree. The nature of these relationships, as described below, is complex.

For example, Staff and Mortimer (2007 , 2008 ) argue that adolescents follow different strategies of human capital accumulation as early as high school. One strategy involves pursuit of higher education through a combination of schooling and steady, moderate employment. Having learned to balance school and work during high school, many youth are able to follow a path that continues this effective time management while in college. A pattern of steady work across the high school and college years has an even bigger impact on adolescents in weaker academic positions—those with fewer academic resources to draw on in their pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree. Consistent with what we know of many processes of inequality, these critical adolescent patterns are class-differentiated, with disadvantaged students less likely to follow the moderate steady work pattern. When disadvantaged students manage to balance school and work in this way, however, the payoffs in educational attainment are even greater. This pattern of balance between work and schooling is very different and has different consequences than the less planful work-school churning in young adulthood that tends to undermine the social mobility of disadvantaged youth ( Bernhardt, Morris, Handcock, & Scott, 2001 ).

In line with a key theme of this essay, we also argue that an understanding of educational success, especially as it is manifested across adolescence and into adulthood, increasingly requires that we attend to the historical context of the adolescents’ lives we seek to understand. Indeed, the role of social change needs to be examined itself. Changes in the institutions of the labor market and postsecondary education are altering some of our long-held understandings. Educational expectations, for example, have long been considered a key mechanism through which socioeconomic background influences adult socioeconomic attainment. Recent cohort comparisons, however, show that educational expectations are less strongly connected to social class than they once were ( Schneider & Stevenson, 1999 ; Goyette, 2008 ). Moreover, Reynolds and colleagues (2006) recently reported that the positive association between educational expectations and educational attainment weakened across the high school classes of 1972 to 1992. Thus, educational expectations no longer have the predictive power they once did either. As goals for earning a college degree have become more universal and expectations for attending graduate school have become dramatically more common, the observed links among social origins, child/adolescent educational expectations, and adult socioeconomic attainment are changing, opening up new lines of inquiry for adolescence researchers.

Not surprisingly, given the symbolic importance of puberty as a life course marker, issues of puberty and pubertal timing have long been a central focus of research on adolescence, including this decade ( Ellis, 2004 ). Although viewed as an adolescent experience, it actually is part of an often prolonged life course process connecting childhood to adolescence and adolescence to young adulthood. As such, the declining age of puberty in the U.S. is significant, in that it could very well lead to a reconceptualization of what adolescence is and when in the life course the boundaries between childhood and adolescence are set ( Herman-Giddens 2007 ). In this context, two influential but largely disconnected literatures related to pubertal timing, one concerning the antecedents of puberty and the other concerning the consequences, should be viewed together.

Within the complex interplay of biology and environment that sets the start of puberty, family adversity—including instability in parents’ relationships—has been identified as a fairly consistent accelerator of pubertal timing ( Belsky, Steinberg, Houts, Friedman, DeHart, Cauffman, Roisman, Halpern-Felsher, Susman, & the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2007 ). Turning from antecedents to consequences, the many developmental problems associated with early pubertal timing for girls (e.g., risky sex, substance use) are well-documented. Included in this phenomenon are a range of academic troubles that, given the highly cumulative nature of the American educational system, have potential to translate short-term behavioral disruptions into long-term life course disadvantages. For example, work by Cavanagh, Riegle-Crumb, & Crosnoe (2007) with the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) echoes the educational work described above in that it demonstrated how the temporary disruptions of early puberty during middle school can negatively affect adolescents’ high school starting points in ways that are difficult to reverse. The result is a lower end-of-school academic standing for early maturing girls years after the pubertal transition is complete. Connecting these literatures suggests how puberty during adolescence can link family disadvantages in childhood to socioeconomic disadvantages in adulthood in the U.S., echoing previously reported links between adolescence and adulthood in Sweden ( Magnusson & Cairns, 1996 ). This possibility needs to be studied more explicitly.

The links between pubertal timing and relationship experiences also indicate the great potential for developing better understandings of continuity and change by taking a cross-stage view. For example, other analyses with the Add Health sample indicate that early maturing girls are more involved in romantic relationships and make earlier transitions to sex than later maturing girls ( Cavanagh, 2004 ; Haynie, 2003 ). These romantic and sexual experiences in adolescence in turn anticipate the family formation processes that occur in young adulthood, with strong implications for well-being and status attainment. Adolescents involved in romantic relationships in high school, particularly ones involving sex, are more likely to form unions (cohabit or marry) in early adulthood; those who experienced nonromantic sexual relationships are more likely to cohabit in early adulthood, but are not more likely to marry ( Raley, Crissey & Muller, 2007 ).

Pubertal timing is not only associated with the formation of romantic and sexual relationships in adolescence. It may also combine with these experiences to affect other long-term outcomes for youth, as has been shown for trajectories of depression across adolescence into young adulthood ( Natsuaki, Biehl, & Ge, 2009 ). Romantic relationships in adolescence offer the opportunity to develop skills useful for forming committed relationships later and provide practice managing multiple social roles that include boyfriend/girlfriend, but they also pose concurrent and long-term risks depending on the development of the adolescent in question and the contexts in which he or she comes of age ( Furman & Shaffer 2003 ). Future research efforts should include studying these cross-stage trajectories and their contexts.

Problem Behavior

The value of taking a life course contextual view of adolescence is also readily apparent in the study of problem behavior, the constellation of proscribed, unhealthy, or dangerous behaviors in which many adolescents engage that includes delinquency, aggression, and substance use. Several studies have tracked behavioral problems from childhood into adolescence, illuminating developmental continuities and discontinuities and contextualizing adolescent problem behavior. As one example, Cote, Vaillancourt, LeBlanc, Nagin, and Tremblay (2006) identified the basic developmental pathways of aggression from early childhood to the start of adolescence in a sample of Canadian youth, with the modal pathway involving moderate aggressive behavior among toddlers that eventually fades by the transition into adolescence. This approach provides the context for understanding the meaning and seriousness of aggressive behavior during adolescence. As just one example, it suggests that non-desistance or upticks in physical aggression at the beginning of adolescence may signal significant adjustment problems in need of attention.

Longitudinal studies of problem behavior have also revealed important insights into the genetic underpinnings of adolescent behavior. Burt and Neiderhiser (2009) , for example, reported a dramatic increase in the genetically heritable components of delinquency across adolescence in another Canadian sample. Their interpretation of this pattern is that it reflects the increasing self-selection of young people into contexts and settings that validate and reinforce their genetic proclivities towards (or against) problem behavior. Although the window of their study did not include childhood, their conclusions highlight the importance of studying problem behavior—and its many determinants, including genes, environment, and the interaction between the two—from childhood into adolescence. When does that self-selection begin, and how does it change over time? Why might constraints against self-selection (whether related to genetics or not) decrease as young people age into and through adolescence?

Studies that track problem behavior from adolescence into adulthood have also contributed tremendously to the understanding of behavioral continuity and change. The same level of substance use at one or even multiple points in time may be embedded within distinctly meaningful trajectories. Studies based on panel data from the Monitoring the Future Surveys, for example, relate trajectories of substance use to the pathways adolescents navigate into adulthood, defined by college attendance, living away from parents, employment, marriage, and parenthood ( Schulenberg, O’Malley, Bachman, and Johnston, 2005 ). Adolescent levels of substance use do foretell to some degree the overtime patterns of use, but discontinuities are also apparent, with differential change associated with the aforementioned transition pathways. In addition to affirming the importance of these adult transition patterns (and their configurations) to substance use in young adulthood, these findings clearly illustrate that substance use trajectories that are rooted in earlier developmental stages can both anticipate future life course transitions and be modified by such transitions.

The long view also enables us to build a better understanding of the proximate causes of adult outcomes associated with adolescent substance use. Do they follow from continued use itself or from academic, social, or economic consequences set in motion in adolescence or early adulthood? Underscoring again the importance of historical context, the very prevalence of a behavior such as alcohol or marijuana use may condition the effect it has on adjustment ( Schulenberg, Maggs, & O’Malley, 2003 ). Recent developments in adolescence-focused neuroscience also offer other avenues of synergy in this line of research. For example, normative declines in risk-taking in young adulthood seem to reflect the development and refinement of self-regulation capacities facilitated by changes in the prefrontal cortex during the late teens and early twenties (Dahl & Spears, 2008; Steinberg, 2008 ). Research on trajectories of substance use and problem behavior, therefore, represent an ideal opportunity to study the links among cognitive and physiological development, social development, and historical change.

The Easing of Practical Constraints

Longitudinal data sets that link multiple stages of the life course, both national and local, have become more available over the past 40 years, especially abroad ( Elder & Giele, 2009 ). Great Britain, for example, now has four national longitudinal cohorts that begin with the earliest years of childhood and will eventually extend across the life course. National studies linking more than two stages have been less common in the U.S., although local data collections, such as the Beginning School Study ( Entwisle et al., 2005 ) and the Minnesota Study of Risk and Adaptation ( Sroufe, Egeland, Carlson & Collins, 2005 ), have provided opportunities for linking childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Despite such resources, we might argue that the adoption of a perspective on “adolescence within the life course” has been constrained by the inadequate availability of data sets that extend from childhood to the adult years rather than by a lack of theoretical interest on the part of adolescence scholars.

Nationally representative panel studies that follow adolescents into adulthood in the U.S. have been available for some time. These include the National Longitudinal Studies, the National Youth Survey, High School and Beyond, the National Education Longitudinal Study (and the more recent Education Longitudinal Study), Monitoring the Future, and Add Health. Similar studies starting in childhood are rarer. Still, the nationally representative Kindergarten Cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K) has recently been followed-up during middle school, and the birth cohort for the nine-state NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development has now exited high school. Moreover, non-public use data sets are increasingly taking cross-stage approaches, such as the Longitudinal Immigrant Study Adaptations (LISA) Study (see Suarez-Orozco & Todorova, 2008 ). Methodological advances, particularly in longitudinal modeling, have continued, such that when appropriate data is available, we have a solid toolkit with which to examine issues of timing and duration, continuity and change, and trajectories and pathways (e.g., Wu 2003 ; Little, Card, Preacher, & McConnell, 2009 ). Thus, the practical constraints on life course approaches to studying adolescence appear to be easing as we move into the next decade. In other words, the data are catching up to the theoretical and methodological sophistication already apparent in the field.

Importantly, a view of adolescence within the life course has an important contribution to make even when available samples do not extend downward from adolescence and/or upward into the adult years. The life course framework locates research foci within the developmental and contextual dynamics of the life course. The analyst, therefore, is sensitized to pathways from childhood that generate behaviors in adolescence and to some of their pathways and consequences in the post-adolescent years. For example, adult role options could become a very real part of a study that investigates the aspirations of high school youth, even when the data set does not reach into the adult years. Thus, thinking about adolescence within the larger life course refines the questions that we can ask about adolescence itself.

In this essay, we have argued that the study of “the second decade of life” is better informed when we locate it within the life course. By doing so, we enhance an understanding of adolescence, the life course more generally, and the developmental processes that connect the two. Unfortunately, although the life course paradigm has clearly influenced ways of thinking about and studying adolescents, most research projects continue to be overly focused on the teenage years in isolation.

In the coming decade, therefore, research on adolescence would benefit from a more concerted effort to view adolescence within the context of the full life course, by theorizing about and then empirically studying transactions among childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Such an endeavor will be facilitated by the “coming of age” of quantitative and mixed methods data sets with child and adolescent samples in U.S. and internationally as well as by the continued refinement of longitudinal analytical strategies ( Wu 2003 ; Little et al. 2009 ).

As we have argued here, taking a longer view of adolescence allows adolescence scholars to better see the complex mutual selection of person and context—that which occurs through the interplay of environment and biology and also through the agentic strivings of adolescents. It enables us to better identify the mechanisms of continuity and discontinuity, and it makes visible when transitions in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood work in conjunction with one another. In doing so, however, we cannot ignore that the social ties that help to define adolescence connect adolescents to significant others who themselves often occupy other life stages. For example, evidence suggests associations with older teens helps to explain many of the behavioral risks of early pubertal timing among girls ( Cavanagh 2004 ), that adolescent boys becoming friends with men who are in young adulthood is a mechanism explaining the link between neighborhood disadvantage and adolescent violence (Harding, 2000), and that resource allocation from parents to adolescents is much stronger when parents are older, even when socioeconomic status is controlled ( Powell, Steelman, & Carini, 2006 ). Thus, understanding adolescence requires linking adolescence to other life stages within the individual as well as across individuals.

We also argue here that understanding adolescence within the life course requires attention to historical context. As the historical record shows, the social, economic, and cultural aspects of adolescence have varied substantially across successive birth cohorts over the past 30 years in the United States. Young people born during the recessionary years of the early 1980s experienced a booming economy at high school graduation, unlike the experiences of those who were born several years before or later. The scarcity of job opportunities for high school and college graduates today will most likely be replaced by more abundant job opportunities for young people entering young adulthood in the coming decade. These socioeconomic variations tend to leave their mark on the life course as well as on the psyche of young people. The challenge for studies of adolescents in the future will be to incorporate such historical conditions into theoretical and empirical models rather than merely referring to them as contextual background. In other words, we need to directly query how changing circumstances have altered the development of young people.

By necessity, we have only highlighted a few examples of the insights that can be achieved by viewing adolescence within the life course. With the foundations in place, we look forward to the next decade of research, which will deepen our knowledge and understanding of adolescence and of young people in the life course within a rapidly changing world.


Support for Crosnoe came from a faculty scholar award from the William T. Grant Foundation as well as a center grant to the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24 HD042849, PI: Mark Hayward). We also acknowledge support from the Spencer Foundation for a Senior Scholar Award to Elder.

Contributor Information

Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, Department of Sociology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4020.

Robert Crosnoe, Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1700, Austin, TX 78712.

Glen H. Elder, Jr., Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 123 W. Franklin St., CB # 8120, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

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135 Adolescence Essay Topics & Examples

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  • Ethical Issues of Social Media.
  • Reaction to Physical Changes.
  • Depression Among Adolescents.
  • Parental vs. Social Influence.
  • Must-See Youth Documentaries.
  • Preventing Teenage Pregnancy.
  • Dating & First Relationships.
  • Reproductive Health Stigma.
  • Impact of Peer Pressure on Development.
  • Connection Between Mental Health & Social Media.
  • Vygotsky’s Approach to the Analysis of Adolescence In Vygotsky’s view, the change in the motives of adolescence come about due to the growth of sexual desires and needs which are as a result of their ability to think logically.
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  • HIV and AIDS in Adolescents The teenagers in America and the world are a group that is constantly at risk of infection with the Human-Immunodeficiency-Virus and developing the Acquired-Immune-Deficiency-Syndrome, the disease condition that eventually results; this is stemming mainly from […]
  • Influence of Heavy Metal Music on Adolescence (Behavior, Identity, Mood, Regulation, Psychology) Accepting the potent impact of music on adolescents’ behavior, identity, and psychology leads to a deeper analysis of the influences of heavy metal music on teenagers’ development.
  • Development: Infancy Through Adolescence The evaluation of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development in different age groups of childhood can be made due to the observation of specific subjects and conversations with them.
  • Adolescence and Emotion Relations He attributes the occurrence of emotional problems to the overwhelming nature of the changes and demands that occur during puberty. The reaction of parents to their child’s emotional outbursts correlates to the cultivation of healthy […]
  • Adolescence as a Period of Social Development Adolescents transition from the restricted responsibilities of childhood to the more expansive roles of adulthood through the social development process, expanding their social networks and experiencing peer influence.
  • Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood Psychology Any intervention that can be used in the prevention of child abuse should focus on the causes of the same and the needs of children who are more prone to abuse.
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  • The Problem of Adolescence Pressures in Society Early adolescence start at the age of 10 to 14 while the late adolescence is from 15 to 21years in boys but girls are said to attain early maturity at the age of 19 years.
  • Adolescence as a Stage of the Person Development Adolescents struggle with so many things, start with, because of their physical changes that occur in their bodies and their exploration of sexual identity, most of them are not able to control their bodies and […]
  • Middle Childhood and Adolescence Periods Observation The first participant is a boy of 7, and the following series of questions will be offered to him: Do you like watching the outside world and nature changes?
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  • Circumstances Causing Stress in Adolescence Hold one’s breath for many seconds and gently exhale via the mouth to evacuate the lungs, hence easing the body of stress. The more one is stressed, the more difficult and nervous it is to […]
  • The Impact of Technology Development on the Adolescence Psychology The stability of the psyche in teenage society is on the minimum bar, and with few exceptions, teenagers are resistant to any criticism.
  • Social Development and Adolescence: Human Services Ethics and Interventions The small circle of peer friends and the loss of a close relative provoke the feeling of loneliness and further progression of depression. A wide range of human service agencies can help Susie and her […]
  • The Impact of Social Issues on the Development of Adolescence For example, boys have high esteem when they experience changes in their voices, while girls may feel shy due to the growth of their chest region.
  • Depression in Adolescence and Treatment Approaches The age of adolescence, commonly referred to as children aged 10-19, is characterized by a variety of changes to one’s physical and mental health, as the child undergoes several stages of adjustment to the environment […]
  • Different Stages of Adolescence Due to the rapid development, the body experiences difficulties in the work of the heart, lungs, and blood supply to the brain.
  • Adolescence: Behavioral Issues and Communication Strategies Despite the fact that these issues occur naturally and are frequent for the majority of the representatives of this age group, the traumas and incapability to cope with the challenges might result in adverse outcomes […]
  • Review of “The Legal Construction of Adolescence” Article However, as explained by Scott in The Legal Construction of Adolescence, there are several complications connected to clearly defining the end of childhood and the overall period of adolescence.
  • Risk-Taking Behaviors and Situations During Adolescence Risk-taking behavior in adolescents is a significant bother for the US healthcare system, as it negatively affects the health and well-being of the population.
  • Adolescence and Young Adulthood in Educational Psychology For Freud, it is inclusion in society, the beginning of social education, communication with peers, removing barriers in interpersonal contacts, and expanding the field of fixation of the object of attraction.
  • Childhood and Adolescence Psychology One of the examples given about the effects of cultural differences in the definition of intelligence is between the Taiwanese and the Americans.
  • Dating, Sex, and Romance: Adolescence and Digital Media Sexual education is significant for adolescents because, for them, the topic of sexual relations, dating, and romance is one of the most attractive ones.
  • Family Issues and Adolescence in Crazy/Beautiful The film Crazy/Beautiful is a vivid example of relationships between teenage children and their parents: The problems and situations shown in the film are typical and timeless.
  • Adolescence: Biological and Psychosocial Perspectives Adolescence as a social construction is more complex as a concept and entails definitional vagueness regarding the beginning and the ending of adolescence, for example, social-role passages into new reference groups, perceptions of the body, […]
  • Adolescence Sexuality: Breaking Down the Myths In her work, Coming of Age in Samoa, she gave a vivid description on the variations in human behavior patterns among the adolescent girls in Samoa.
  • Brain Development in Adolescence and Childhood I am going to describe the relation of moral reasoning, moral evaluations and moral behaviors in terms of worldviews approach to moral development according to Jensen. The next issue I am going to discuss is […]
  • Syllabus for Life Among Adolescence This is a matter of pressure to the teenagers and this creates stress in them.”Early adulthood is the settling down period and most reproductive age.
  • Adolescence and Risk Taking Analysis Studies show that children and adolescents around the world spend their maximum time watching television than they do in any other activity with an exception in the time of sleeping. The objective of this paper […]
  • Adolescence Psychology: Development Early Through Late This number is approximate, because a lot of people with the disease are not aware of the symptoms and do not want to be tested on chlamydia.
  • Depression and Psychotherapy in Adolescence Society needs to acknowledge that depression is a major medical problem among adolescents in the United States and measures need to be taken to address it.
  • Middle Childhood and Adolescence Development Children and adolescents need to be accepted by the peers, and the positive relations in groups contribute to increasing the children’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Psychology: Adolescence as a Developmental Stage Erik Erickson is referred to as the father of an identity crisis in that he originated with the idea of child upbringing practices and their influence on the personality of the child in later life.
  • Human Development Theories: Adolescence and Adulthood In the growth and development stage of a human being, the adolescent period has been considered to be a natural stage found between childhood and adulthood.
  • Addiction Occurrence and Reduction in Adolescence This implies that the earlier the start of the use of drugs, the higher the chances of the risk of becoming addicted.
  • Loneliness in Adolescence as a Psychological Issue In the course of this, it will outline the background, state the hypothesis, speculate on the methods, and reflect on the conclusion which the author has arrived at.
  • Adolescence: Risk, Identity and Transition There is a downside to this perspective is that it ignores the diversity in culture and differences among peers. The main problem however is that most of these youth have no experience with the real […]
  • The Peculiarities of Adolescence and Puberty It is necessary to pay attention to the needs of students at risk, to the peculiarities of their interactions with other people and to the features of their awareness of themselves as personalities.
  • Socioemotional Development in Adolescence Adolescence is a period that begins with the puberty, approximately at the age of 12, and ends with the early adulthood, in the 18th.
  • Sexuality and Masculinity in Adolescents This is the misunderstanding which makes many teenagers behave in the way they are not to behave, to act in the way they are not to act and to act as in the result the […]
  • Alcohol Consumption in Adolescence The hypotheses developed in this paper are of immense importance in guiding a study aimed at identifying credible evidence on how alcohol consumption during adolescence is associated with mental health challenges and increased STI risk […]
  • Relationship Between Sleep and Depression in Adolescence Using SPSS for data analysis, the results indicate the presence of a correlation between elements of depression and sleep duration and quality.
  • Attachment Dimensions and Adolescence Drug Addiction in Relation to School Counseling A meta-analysis of numerous studies relating to attachment and parental rearing behaviors have revealed that the quality of rapport between children and their caregivers is of intrinsic importance to the children’s development, and some studies, […]
  • Development of Ethnic Identity During Adolescence From a study of adolescents of different racial groups in the United States, it was found out that self esteem of the groups was observed to rise among the groups of early and mid adolescents.
  • The Three D’s of Adolescence Depression There are three major types depression in teenagers: bipolar depression, major depression, and chronic depression. Parents can help their depressed adolescents by identifying the type of depression and seeking proper treatment.
  • Human Development: Adolescence as the Most Important Age Range The stage is therefore very important in understanding the behavior of an individual. This is a stage when the life of an individual is either made or destroyed.
  • Critical Issues in Adolescence: The Problem of Psychological Disorders It is the purpose of this paper to critically analyze how psychological disorders affect the physical, cognitive and emotional development of adolescents in contemporary times.
  • A Critical Evaluation of the Behavioural Outcomes of Failure of Mylination of the Prefrontal Lobe During Adolescence It is, therefore, the purpose of this paper to evaluate the behavioural outcome of failure or impairment of mylination of the prefrontal lobe during adolescence.
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  • Peer Affiliation, Social Behavior, And Callous Unemotional Traits In Adolescence
  • The Major Hormonal Changes That Occur During Adolescence
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  • What Leads Subjective Well-Being to Change Throughout Adolescence?
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  • Which Role Models Do Teenagers Follow Today?
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  • How Do Teenagers Leave Their Homes and Why They Never Come Back? Which Social Groups Have Higher Rates of Such Cases?
  • Appearance as a Tool of Self-Expression. Which Elements of Style Are Used by Teenagers Today?
  • How Did Communication With Parents Change Over the Past Ten Years?
  • Do Technological Advances Facilitate Better Studying Among Young People or Distract From It?
  • Have the Youth Become More Involved Socially, or Are They Becoming More Individualist?
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  • Are Teenagers More Religious as Compared to the Recent Past?
  • What Are the Major Challenges That Adolescence Facing?
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  • What Is the Most Important Thing We Need to Know During Adolescence?
  • Why Adolescent Stage Is the Most Crucial Stage?
  • What Are Emotional Changes in Adolescence?
  • Can Adolescent Development Change According to Culture and Upbringing?
  • What Social Changes Happen in Adolescence?
  • Why Is Knowledge About Changes During Adolescence Important?
  • How Do Physical Changes Affect Adolescents?
  • Why Is Adolescent Development Especially Challenging?
  • What Are the Problems With Defining the Start and End of Adolescence? Why Do These Problems Exist?
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IvyPanda. (2024, February 29). 135 Adolescence Essay Topics & Examples.

"135 Adolescence Essay Topics & Examples." IvyPanda , 29 Feb. 2024,

IvyPanda . (2024) '135 Adolescence Essay Topics & Examples'. 29 February.

IvyPanda . 2024. "135 Adolescence Essay Topics & Examples." February 29, 2024.

1. IvyPanda . "135 Adolescence Essay Topics & Examples." February 29, 2024.


IvyPanda . "135 Adolescence Essay Topics & Examples." February 29, 2024.

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The transition from adolescence to adulthood, emerging adulthood involves two key components of autonomy..

Posted July 26, 2021 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

  • Emotional autonomy refers to becoming free of childish emotional dependence on adults.
  • Behavioral autonomy refers to youth becoming more skilled in their own self-governing behavior and independent enough to make decisions.
  • From the onset of puberty through age 25, the adolescent brain undergoes profound changes in structure and function.
  • The developmental period of emerging adulthood offers incredible opportunities for growth and change.

The transition to adulthood is critical but often misunderstood. As societal and economic changes have created new demands and challenges for young people, particularly those in the 18- to 25-year-old range, we now recognize emerging adulthood as a distinct period separate from adolescence and older adulthood (Arnett, 2004). During this period, emerging adults experience new life roles.

Research by Arnett (2004) and others (Kroger, Martinussen, & Marcia, 2010) has shown the length of time for young people to actually create a personal identity has increased to the mid-to-late 20s. Emerging adulthood in Western culture is still a time of shifting identities. There is a continued risk of experimentation with unhealthy behaviors, posing perhaps an even greater risk for the young people in this later emerging adulthood stage. They are no longer minors and are faced with two additional life challenges: increased adult responsibilities and decreased familial support.

Autonomy: Emotional and Behavioral Components

A core element in the journey to adulthood involves the attainment of autonomy (Rice & Dolgin, 2008). During this time period, young people establish their uniqueness from others, and new interests, values, goals , and worldviews divergent from close others may emerge (Rice & Dolgin, 2008). As a normal developmental process, autonomy has been described as having two components: emotional and behavioral.

Emotional autonomy refers to becoming free of childish emotional dependence on adults (Rice & Dolgin, 2008). Parents can either foster an overdependence on the developing young person or provide the opposite, a lack of guidance and support. Clearly, a balance of both is the most preferred course of action (Rice & Dolgin, 2008). Behavioral autonomy refers to youth learning to become more skilled in their own self-governing behavior and independent enough to make decisions on their own accord (Holmbeck et al., 2006; Rice & Dolgin, 2008). Young persons are faced with the ultimate developmental conundrum: On the one hand, they are met with the task of exploring alternative behaviors and roles that smack of adultlike decisions, and on the other hand, they bear the new, yet daunting role of no longer being confined by parental and once-perceived societal regulations.

From the onset of puberty through age 25, the adolescent brain undergoes profound changes in structure and function (Wetherill & Tapert, 2013). Advances in developmental neuroscience and neuroimaging demonstrate regions of the brain develop at different rates—from birth to emerging adulthood (Mills, Goddings, Clasen, Giedd, & Blakemore, 2014). Recognizing how many adolescent behaviors can be attributed to a developmental mismatch between structural/functional imbalances in certain brain regions is a key to MI spirit. Recent research about two key brain regions has evidenced how structural changes affect functional behavioral outputs in youth (Feldstein Ewing, Tapert, & Molina, 2016; Luciana & Feldstein Ewing, 2015). Specifically, evidence is emerging on how the limbic regions are associated with reward and emotional regulation , and how regions such as the prefrontal cortex are associated with cognitive control. Other brain regions, associated with the activation and processing of social information, can actually enhance the development of adolescent cognitive executive functions , as compared to other developmental periods (Steinberg, 2008). For example, while impulsive behaviors may be seen as a lack of “cognitive control,” we concur some degree of risk-taking behavior may be necessary and important for youth to gain important life experiences required to assume adult roles.

This developmental period offers incredible opportunities. In contrast to older adults whose brains are no longer in a formative stage of development, the neural networks of youth are being reshaped with each learning experience. Understanding these processes can further help you to understand how to turn challenges into opportunities for growth.

Arnett JJ. Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. Oxford University Press, USA; 2004.

Ewing SWF, Tapert SF, Molina BS. Uniting adolescent neuroimaging and treatment research: Recommendations in pursuit of improved integration. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2016;62:109-114.

Holmbeck GN, O’Mahar K, Abad M, Colder C, Updegrove A. Cognitive-behavioral therapy with adolescents. Child and adolescent therapy: Cognitive-behavioral procedures. 2006:419-464.

Kroger J, Martinussen M, Marcia JE. Identity status change during adolescence and young adulthood: A meta-analysis. Journal of adolescence. 2010;33(5):683-698.

Luciana M, Ewing SWF. Introduction to the special issue: Substance use and the adolescent brain: Developmental impacts, interventions, and longitudinal outcomes. Elsevier; 2015.

Mills KL, Goddings A-L, Clasen LS, Giedd JN, Blakemore S-J. The developmental mismatch in structural brain maturation during adolescence. Developmental neuroscience. 2014;36(3-4):147-160.

Rice PF, Dolgin KG. The Adolescent: Development, relationships, and culture. 12th ed. Allyn & Bacon; 2008.

Steinberg L. A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk-taking. Developmental review. 2008;28(1):78-106.

Wetherill R, Tapert SF. Adolescent brain development, substance use, and psychotherapeutic change. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. 2013;27(2):393.

Sylvie Naar Ph.D.

Sylvie Naar, Ph.D., is the Distinguished Endowed Professor in the College of Medicine’s department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine at Florida State University, where she is the founding director of the Center for Translational Behavioral Science.

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Home — Essay Samples — Psychology — Adolescence — The Stages of My Adolescence


The Stages of My Adolescence

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Published: Mar 16, 2024

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Early adolescence: navigating physical and emotional changes, middle adolescence: exploring identity and independence, late adolescence: building confidence and independence.

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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.

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.

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).

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, s urvey 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.

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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Adolescence Essay for Children and Students | Download PDF

December 7, 2017 by Study Mentor Leave a Comment

Adolescence is a transition phase which every person experiences in his life. It is a transition from childhood to adulthood. The period is characterized with confusion for the kids as it becomes difficult for them to understand their own emotions. Adolescence starts with the onset of puberty and lasts till the onset of adulthood.  

This phase of life is full of uncertainty as the person does not understand why these changes are happening.   The onset of puberty has no definite age. It’s onset in characterized by the individuals own characteristics and the environment around them. Girls mature fast as compared to boys due to their innate body functions.

But puberty can start at age of 10 for some but it may extend to 14 also for some people. Puberty is the demarcation line between adolescence and childhood.   With the onset of puberty, bodies of both the genders undergoes a lot of changes. This is also means that the body has started preparing itself for reproduction. Several physical changes are also seen in both males and females.   

Table of Contents

What happens when adolescence sets it? 

With the onset of puberty, males experience behavioural and physical changes in them. They become frustrated more easily and are always on the verge of boiling.

This is due to the changes happening in their body. Hair growth increases in pubic areas and their body as well. Their voice deepens and they gain muscular strength with age. The muscles of their arms and thighs grow giving them a buff look.  

The puberty of girls is characterized with the onset of periods. They experience changes in their voice. Their voice becomes more shrill. Girls experience hair growth in their pubic regions. Their breasts and hips become fuller so as to support the reproductive changes taking place in them.  

According to Jewish tradition, this phase is celebrated as Bar Mitzvah (for boys) and Bat Mitzvah (for girls). This tradition was made to celebrate the continuation of the legacies of the families. It signified that their name would be carried on further by their children and the family’s badge would be worn as pride by them.   

Where does the exact problem lie?   

An adolescent has a lot on his plate to deal with. He has to deal with overbearing and dominating adults at an age which is dominated by emotions and self-respect. This age is all about rage. The unknown changes happening in an adolescent’s body baffles his mind and leaves him seething in rage. The adults expect him to act like an adult in some matters while they become too small to speak in some matters.

This phase of adolescence is a crucial one. The adolescent feels insecure during this transitional stage because of the chaos clouding his heart. They start feeling things they have never felt before. Their attraction towards the other sex increases. They do not know how to behave or react in a given situation. A feeling of insecurity develops in him due to this uncertainty. The society expects him to behave like an adult but not too much like an adult.   

Their insecurities are fuelled when their wishes and desires are not fulfilled. They feel utterly ditched by their parents when they don’t give in to their incessant demands. Then they seek the guidance of their friends to deal with the storm messing up their heart.

But what they don’t know is, that even their friends are going through the same age. Friends would be of no help because at this stage, they need guidance from somebody who is mature. They seek solace in their peers and friend circle. Whereas they should try to bridge the communication gap between their parents and them.

Parents and teachers can help them out of this dilemma and guide them onto a correct path. But children at this stage do not want to take the paths shown by their parents. They just want to go where their friends go.   

Resolution of problems  

The behavioural problems can only be resolved with the joint effort of parents and society. The society should not pressurise the children. Instead they should boil down their expectations and make it easier for the adolescents to deal with the changes happening in them.

The adolescents should be given time to understand their bodies and themselves. They should try to under the inner conflicts taking control of the Child’s brain and help them resolve these conflicts by continuous counselling.   

Revolution in mindsets 

The anxiety which arises in children is due to the fact that they live in two different worlds and try to act true to both of them. But at the end, they feel exhausted by having to act differently in front of everybody. One behaviour which satisfies one circle become the cause of annoyance and irritation for the other circle.

Their friend circle has some other expectations while the adult society wants the teenager to act in a stereotypical manner so as to see the perfect kind of kid they want to see. This creates anxiety in the minds of children who are not able to deal with this stress.

Teenagers at this age are just out of their childhood where they were more protected and naive. They take time to adjust to these changes. Just because they advanced one more year in their life, they cannot be expected to change completely. Therefore, the adolescents are always in a state of tension and they feel the world crashing down on them when this sinking feeling does not stop.   

Sex Education   

Lack of proper sex education is also a major problem among teenagers. They feel closed off and restricted due to the society’s ignorant and conservative behaviour. The society has created a taboo, imposing limitations on sexual expression and talks.

This pulps up frustration in the teenagers and they feel agitated. When a person reaches their mid teens, their body is able to perform the adult sexual activities. But the society denies his sexual expressions.


The society thinks that it is embarrassing to express freely the views and opinions about sex but actually it is not. They should realise this sooner and broader their horizons to a more receptive approach.   

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    In this essay, we argue that viewing adolescence within the full life course will improve our understanding of both adolescence itself and the life course more generally. Such an approach makes explicit how adolescence is linked to developmental processes in the years both before and after adolescence in ways that are shaped by broader patterns ...

  14. Essays on Adolescence

    Good adolescent essay topics to consider psychological and physiological development stages during the period of adolescence, analysis of the emotional factors at play, case study writing, provide analysis of children on the autism spectre, address development theories, or talk about the initial process of puberty as you can see from our free ...

  15. Adolescence Essays: Examples, Topics, & Outlines

    Adolescence Describe two ways that brain development typically contributes to changes in thinking and behavior as individuals progress through adolescence (448-451). Provide two specific examples of how most adolescents think and reason (pp. 485-493). Because of the "Dramatic transformations" that occur during adolescence in the prefrontal cortex and the limbic brain regions, feelings of "fear ...

  16. Adolescence Stage: a Life-Changing Experience of Mental Health: [Essay

    This adolescence stage experience essay explores the challenges and transformations individuals go through during this critical period of development.Adolescence is a time in which everyone experiences this roller coaster full of twisting emotions. In this stage of life, benefits or possible consequences are demonstrated from how well the caregivers raised the child.

  17. 135 Adolescent Research Topics & Essay Samples

    As a social construct of society, adolescence is viewed as the object of fear and anxiety by the rest of society's members. Accepting the potent impact of music on adolescents' behavior, identity, and psychology leads to a deeper analysis of the influences of heavy metal music on teenagers' development.

  18. Adolescence Essay

    Decent Essays. 1057 Words. 5 Pages. Open Document. Adolescence is a time of rapid physical, emotional, and cognitive development. During adolescence, teenagers are exposed to a wealth of new and confusing changes that greatly impact their paths in life. The development that occurs during this time are highly influential and can create lasting ...

  19. The Transition From Adolescence to Adulthood

    A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk-taking. Developmental review. 2008;28(1):78-106. Wetherill R, Tapert SF. Adolescent brain development, substance use, and psychotherapeutic change.

  20. The Stages of My Adolescence: [Essay Example], 380 words

    During the early stages of my adolescence, I experienced a rapid physical growth spurt. This period was marked by awkwardness and self-consciousness as my body changed and developed. I remember feeling self-conscious about my appearance and constantly comparing myself to my peers. This stage was also characterized by hormonal changes, mood ...

  21. Adolescence Essays: Samples & Topics

    Essay Samples on Adolescence. Essay Examples. Essay Topics. The Power Dynamics of Adolescent Marginality & Intergenerational Conflict. Abstract Adolescents are often seen as lazy and/or entitled by older generations. Typically, we can see this today in the baby boomer generation. In this paper I will be applying Sociological Theories to this ...

  22. Adolescence Development Essay

    Adolescence Development Essay. Adolescence is a period of physical and psychological development from the onset of puberty to maturity. The adolescent is no longer a child, but they haven't yet reached adulthood. Adolescence is considered people between the ages of 13 and 21. Puberty is the physical maturing that makes an individual capable ...

  23. Adolescence Essay

    Adolescence Essay. Adolescence is the transition period from childhood to adulthood, this is the time where the person changes in cognitive and physical ways. Adolescence is the period after a child hits puberty and ends depending on culture. Biologically, the child experience sexual maturation, there are two categories that fall into it.

  24. The Development of Adolescents

    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 ...

  25. Adolescence Essay for Children and Students

    Adolescence Essay for Children and Students | Download PDF. Adolescence is a transition phase which every person experiences in his life. It is a transition from childhood to adulthood. The period is characterized with confusion for the kids as it becomes difficult for them to understand their own emotions. Adolescence starts with the onset of ...

  26. Teens are spending nearly 5 hours daily on social media. Here are the

    41%. Percentage of teens with the highest social media use who rate their overall mental health as poor or very poor, compared with 23% of those with the lowest use. For example, 10% of the highest use group expressed suicidal intent or self-harm in the past 12 months compared with 5% of the lowest use group, and 17% of the highest users expressed poor body image compared with 6% of the lowest ...