Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
(13 to 18 years old)
Developing a realistic, stable and positive
identity is the major developmental task of adolescence.
Adolescence can be a scary time, full
of angst and new emotions. It is also a time when the tremendous amount of
energy of young people can contribute to many worthwhile projects. The more
parents and teachers can do to engage teenagers, the more likely it is that
young people will have a successful transitionhood to adulthood.
What are some of the important
issues in the Adolescent Years?
- Body image - adolescence is a time when
boys’ and girls’ bodies are changing rapidly, and young people are
developing a new sense of self.
- Identity - along with rapidly changing bodies,
youth are experimenting with a variety of identities. Who am I? is one of the
pressing questions of this time.
- Relationships with parents - are highly important
to adolescents. This relationship can be unstable and highly conflictual or
there can be a gradual movement by the young person towards autonomy and
independence. A certain degree of conflict about the appropriate degree of
parental control of adolescent life is almost inevitable.
- Peers - play an important role in adolescent
life. Adolescence is a period when young people spend a lot of time talking and
hanging out with each other. Peers provide the opportunity to explore different
identities, social ideas and the nature of relationships.
- Sexuality - adolescence is a time of emerging
sexuality, often subject to the same high degree of experimentation as other
aspects of adolescent life. Healthy, responsible teenage sexuality is not yet
Adolescents who rely on the
peer group, rather than the family, for their main support are particularly
vulnerable to peer pressure to engage in problem behaviours, such as smoking
drinking or drugs.
also be an acute problem among adolescents.
What do adolescents need for
- Their basic needs met - a safe place to live,
adequate food and nutrition, clothing, access to health and mental health
services and education.
- Good communication with their parents.
- Parental guidance and supervision, while enjoying
opportunities for independence.
- Opportunities for skill development.
- Acceptance, together with problem-solving
approaches to conflict.
What are the challenges
in the adolescent years?
- Substance use and abuse.
- Sexually transmitted diseases.
- Dating violence.
- Pregnancy and teenage parenting.
- Eating disorders.
- Suicide and depression.
- Uncertain job prospects.
What Can Parents Do?
- Maintain an atmosphere of warmth, affection,
support and understanding.
- Maintain positive communication.
- Stress the importance of learning and
- Show an active interest in your
adolescent’s learning and school.
- Working part-time can be a source of money and
independence for teenagers, but it can also cut into time available for
homework; social; sports and family activities.