An adolescent has the tendency to think about what is going on in one’s own mind and to study oneself. He looks more closely at himself and defines himself differently.
The adolescents realize that these are differences between what they think and feel and, how they-behave. They are dissatisfied with themselves. They critically examine their personal characteristics and compare themselves to others. This process goes on.
Adolescents try to think whether other people see and think about the world in the same way as they themselves do. They learn that other people cannot know fully what they think and feel. Thus they consider themselves knowing better than others.
The adolescents have cognitive ability to relate the past to the present. They think about the future. This characteristic presents the young adolescents with the problem of understanding the continuity of experience across time and projecting that continuity into the future.
To accomplish the adolescents depend on several activities, some of the important activities are as under:
(i) The adolescents pay great attention on how other people view them. This is the reason why they listen carefully to their peers, parents, teachers and other adults for any information that indicates how these people view them.
(ii) The adolescents search the past and often want to know about their ancestors, family tree, their own infancy and childhood experiences.
(iii) The adolescents act on their feelings and express their beliefs and opinions accordingly. They place a high value on being honest and behave in the ways that are true to oneself.
(iv) The adolescents try to find out what kind of persons they are. For this purpose they adopt different ways. They adopt the characteristic of other people to see if those characteristic fit in them. It is found that they take on and quickly cast off the traits of peers, teachers and other acquaintances. Erikson has given the name identity diffusion to the experience of not having sense of one’s identity. This is the unpleasant awareness of continual change in oneself and of the difference between one’s self-concept and how others see one to escape this troubling situation.
Adolescents have an increase in demands for autonomy that is, for self-determination. As adolescents, awareness of their increasing similarity to adults grows.
It becomes increasingly difficult for them to accept adult directions. It is well known to the adolescents that they will have to take responsibility for actions as adults and they need to practice that responsibility in more and more arenas.
It is often observed that those adults who work with adolescents happen to give more advice than is necessary. It should be kept in mind that the sensitivity to the need of adolescents to maintain their autonomy is a valuable characteristic for teachers to keep in mind while dealing with them.
The adolescents should be given proper guidance sometimes even firmly, without stopping them for exercising their choice. By allowing choices a teacher, can help the adolescents to develop both responsibility and independence. A teacher can prepare them for adulthood by expecting them to gradually take on more responsibility and to face the consequences of their choices.
At the time when adolescents seek autonomy from their parents and other adults, they often seek to conform to their group. To gain peers acceptance the adolescents copy one another’s style of dress, language and behaviour.
Sometimes adolescents are seen forming a group that excludes all those who do not wear similar clothes and use similar languages.
4. Interpersonal development:
Peers are the focus of adolescence. Various activities link friendship popularity, conflict with peers, dating and sexual relationships all take a tremendous amount of the adolescents’ time and energy.
Adolescents who have similar interests and values form groups. The friendship made in adolescence may endure through life.
In early adolescence, two new needs arise as under:
(i) The need for intimacy, for a relationship with a person to share their feelings and thoughts.
(ii) The need for sexual gratification. Intimacy is first felt and needed by adolescents. There should be someone with whom they can share their feelings and emotions. They try to have intimacy first with peers, usually drown from the same sex, classmates, etc.
To communicate intimacy needs learning to talk about one’s feeling and thoughts in an appealing way. Such communication needs trust in the partner’s goodwill and tolerance. Learning to develop intimate communication with peers of the other sex is one of their major interpersonal attributes.
They find that intimacy with the same sex is easier to achieve because they go through similar changes and are more familiar. This is the reason why the other sex is less familiar for most adolescents. The adolescents who manage to develop relationship with the other sex successfully are those ones who can separate their needs for intimacy and for sexual gratification.
They give priority to developing friendship with peers of both sexes. They have great control over themselves and do not confuse sexual intimacies with intimacy that does not include sex.