Psychosocial Development in Adolescence

We were all high school students once. We all remember it, some of us not as fondly as others might. We know it can be a difficult time, though when we were students ourselves, we weren’t aware of the enormity of the physical and psychosocial changes that we were experiencing. Let’s take a look at what that entails…

How is adolescence characterized physically?

Physically speaking, when children enter high school, they are still changing rapidly. They may gain height and experience more muscle development or develop body fat (depending on gender). They will develop secondary sex characteristics, which are: menarche, body hair, acne, increased sweat gland activity, hormonal changes, etc. They will have a greater need for sleep, be more clumsy and be more shy or sensitive about or aware of their changing bodies.

How is adolescence characterized cognitively?

Cognitively speaking, children in adolescence develop a great deal. They tend to develop more complex reasoning and abstract thinking skills as well as developing meta-cognition abilities. This is particularly important to note as an instructor, because we should know what our students are capable of if we want to be effective in helping them learn and achieve. It is also important to understand that teenagers will have a greater awareness of themselves and be self-conscious. Because of this, they will be sensitive to attention and will sometimes feel awkward, which can affect class performance and material retention.

How is adolescence characterized psycho-socially?

Teenagers will be experiencing an identity crisis (as you may well remember from your own high school experience). They will be unsure of themselves, unsure of their future and unsure of how they want to proceed. This is also a time when teenagers are seeking independence and autonomy. They will want to make their own decisions and use their own morality scale. Friendships and intimacy are important to adolescents and this will be a major priority. Peers have a great influence on behaviors and attitudes, particularly in early adolescence (Stang 6). Lastly, they will be concerned about what the future holds and will need guidance.

What does this mean for me as a high school teacher?

As an instructor of adolescent students, one must be careful, encouraging, motivational, sensitive, understanding, and patient. Being knowledgeable about one’s content area is not enough. One needs to have an understanding of the physical and psychological needs of one’s students. It is important to communicate, show support, set firm boundaries for behavior, respect their need for space and privacy within reason, and provide praise for successes in the classroom.

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2 thoughts on “Psychosocial Development in Adolescence

  1. Cecily Rayow says:

    Very nice blog post. I definitely love this site. Continue the good work!

  2. Oluwayemisi says:

    it has helped in my research to write my term paper. God increase your wisdom

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