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Teenager's Psychosocial Development

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Along with pubertal and cognitive development is psychosocial development. This is the teenager’s growing ability to relate realistically to other people, to learn to become a mature partner in an intimate relationship and to see oneself realistically. This type of development will never actually end.

There are 4 important factors in becoming ‘Psycho–socially developed’.
  • The ability to separate effectively from the parents both emotionally and intellectually while still retaining the bonds of family.
  • The ability to choose a realistic vocational goal.
  • Developing a mature sexuality.
  • Developing a realistic and positive self–image.
For this type of development, adolescence is divided into 3 stages of approximate age groups.
  • Early adolescence: From about 10 to 13 years old.
  • Middle adolescence: From 14 to 17 years old.
  • Late adolescence: From 18 to about 21 or 22 years old.
Sexuality also is a strong component of psychosocial development during adolescence. It involves a person’s sense of self as a man or woman, the ability to enter into and maintain an intimate relationship with a significant other and the ability to relate to other people in general.

Early adolescents (10–13 years old)
At this age it is important to become independent in a totally non–rational, gut–level manner. They can actually throw tantrums just like 2 year olds and become clingy with a parent like a little child. The hallmark of early teenager’s developing self–concept and need for independence is their quick embarrassment and desire not to be seen with their parents. Kids at this stage want to be with their same–sex friends more than with their families. This is the age at which parents become ‘Stupid’, a condition that resolves when adolescents reach the late stage.

Middle adolescents (14–17 years old)
Growth of pubertal development is almost over and they have begun to use their new abstract thinking abilities well. They still want to be with their peers but now the group includes both sexes. Girls at this stage are deeply involved in their relationships with friends, while boys are more likely to ‘Hang out’ and do things with their friends. Parents of middle adolescents may find they are being challenged now as never before. Long held thoughts about religion, family’s love, finances, independency and loyalties all these beliefs may be challenged. Teens start to become physically independent. This is the time when they can begin to drive cars and hold jobs, which gives them some measure of financial independence.

Late adolescents (18–21 or 22 years old)
At this age they begin to recognize that their parents may not be infallible, but parents can be their best friends. The peer group fades in importance and is replaced by a few good friends. The adolescent’s interests now focus on their educational or vocational future. Vocational goals vary during adolescence from unrealistic fantasies in early adolescence to realistic educational and vocational plans by the end of adolescence. Some cognitive maturity is necessary for an adolescent to develop self–understanding and then take that knowledge of their own qualities and apply them to a potential career.

Separation from parents or individuation, is a necessary part of growing up and a teenager’s psychosocial development. In our society, we expect children to become independent adults. This independence does not preclude close family relationships, but the relationship between parent and grown child should be based on mutual respect. The parent should recognize that his or her child has grown up.


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