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Adolescent Growth and Development

Adolescent Growth and Development

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Adolescent Growth and Development

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  1. Adolescent Growth and Development Angela Huebner, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Human Development Virginia Tech ahuebner@vt.edu 703.538-8491 February 7, 2008

  2. Period of Adolescence • Rapid growth • Interaction of physical, psychological, and environmental factors • Off timing of systems (Dahl, 2004) • Puberty • Physical growth • Emotion and behavior regulation • Importance of understanding interaction of all the systems; • Transitions all occur sequentially but not necessarily at the same time

  3. Source: Cooperative Extension System Extension "CARES" for America's Children and Youth Initiative March, 2001

  4. What’s the Big Deal? • Adolescent morbidity • Health Paradox (Dahl, 2004): • Developmental period of strength and resilience both physically and cognitively • Yet, morbidity & mortality rates increase 200% • DIFFICULTIES IN CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR AND EMOTION

  5. Overview I. Physical Development II. Cognitive Development III. Psycho-Social Development

  6. I. Physical Development • Height & Weight Changes • Secondary Sex Characteristics • Continued Brain Development

  7. Rapid Gains in Height & Weight • 4.1 to 3.5 inches per year • Girls mature about 2 years earlier than boys • Weight gain = muscles for boys; fat for girls

  8. Secondary Sex Characteristics: • Pubic hair • Menarche or penis growth • Voice changes for boys • Underarm hair • Facial hair growth for boys • Increased production of oil, sweat glands, acne

  9. Continued Brain Development • Not completely developed until late adolescence • Emotional, physical and mental abilities incomplete • May explain why some seem inconsistent in controlling emotions, impulses, and judgements

  10. Understanding the Adolescent Brain • Advances in brain imaging allow for better understanding of what occurs • Evidence for frontal lobe delays Inability to delay gratification; impulse control • Suggestion that puberty represents a period of synaptic reorganization and as a consequence the brain might be more sensitive to experiential input at this period of time in the realm of executive function and social cognition • Prefrontal cortex of interest • (Blakemore & Choudhury, 2006)

  11. Brain: Developmental Changes • Synaptogenesis: proliferation of synapses • Myelinazation: insulation around synapses • Synaptic pruning: frequently used connections are strengthened, infrequently used connections are eliminated (Blakemore & Choudhury, 2006)

  12. Bottom Line?

  13. How do these change affect teens? • Usually studied as decision making (Steinberg, 2004) • In lab: similarities in adolescent & adult decision making processes • Adolescents are uniquely vulnerable to risk taking • Novelty & sensation seeking increase dramatically at puberty • Development of self-regulation lags behind • Risk taking as group behavior (Steinberg, 2004)

  14. How Do These Changes Affect Teens? • Frequently sleep longer - 9 1/2 hours • May be more clumsy because of growth spurts-body parts grow at different rates • Girls may become sensitive about weight - 60% trying to lose weight • 1-3% have eating disorder

  15. How Do These Changes Affect Teens? • Concern if not physically developing at same rate as peers - need to “fit” in (early vs. late maturation) • Feel awkward about showing affection to opposite sex parent • Ask more direct questions about sex - trying to figure out values around sex

  16. What Can Adults Do? • Expect inconsistency in responsibility taking and in decision making • Provide opportunities for “safe” risk taking • Avoid criticizing/comparing to others • Encourage enough sleep • Encourage/model healthy eating • Encourage/model activity • Provide honest answers about sex

  17. II. Cognitive Development • Advanced Reasoning Skills • Abstract Thinking Skills • Meta-Cognition

  18. Beginning to Gain Advanced Reasoning Skills • Options • Possibilities • Logical • Hypothetically • What if?

  19. Think Abstractly • Can take others’ perspective • Can think about non-concrete things like faith, trust, beliefs, and spirituality

  20. Ability to Think About Thinking • Meta-cognition • Think about how they feel and what they are thinking • Think about how they think they are perceived by others • Can develop strategies for improving their learning

  21. How Do These Changes Affect Teens? • Heightened self-consciousness • Believes no one else has experienced feelings/emotions • Tend to become cause-oriented • Tend to exhibit a “justice orientation” • “It can’t happen to me” syndrome

  22. Don’t take it personally when teens discount experience Discuss their behavior rules/consequences Provide opportunities for community service Ask teens their view and share own What Can Adults Do?

  23. III. Psycho-Social Development • Establishing identity • Establishing autonomy • Establishing intimacy • Become comfortable with one’s sexuality • Achievement

  24. Establishing Identity • Erikson (1959): identity vs. identity diffusion • Integrates opinions of other into own likes/dislikes—needs interactions with diverse others for this to occur • Outcome is clear sense of values, beliefs, occupational goals, and relationship expectations • Secure identities-knows where they fit

  25. Identity Achievement Moratorium Identity Foreclosure Identity Diffusion Identity Exploration Process: Commitment present absent present Exploration absent Marcia (1966)

  26. Establishing Autonomy • Becoming independent and self-governing within relationships • Make and follow through with decisions • Live with own set of principles of right/wrong • Less emotionally dependent on parents

  27. Establishing Intimacy • Learns intimacy and sex not same thing • Learned within context of same-sex friendships; then in romantic relationships • Develops close, open, honest, caring, and trusting relationships • Learn to begin, maintain, and terminate relationships; practice social skills, and become intimate from friends

  28. Becoming Comfortable with One’s Sexuality • How educated/exposed to sexuality largely determines if healthy sexual identity develops • More than half high school students are sexually active • Mixed messages contribute to teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases

  29. Predictors of Sexual Activity • Having a steady boy/girlfriend • Using alcohol regularly • Having parents with permissive values about sex • Being worried about one’s future occupational success • Implication: focus on more than one risk factor

  30. Achievement • Society fosters and values attitudes of competition and success • Can see relationship between abilities, plans, aspirations • Need to determine achievement preferences, what good at, and areas willing to strive for success

  31. How Do These Changes Affect Teens? • More time with friends • May keep a journal • More questions about sexuality • Begin to lock bedroom door • Involved in multiple hobbies/clubs • More argumentative • Interact with parents as people

  32. What Can Adults Do? • Encourage involvement in groups • Praise for efforts and abilities • Help explore career goals and options • Help set guidelines/consequences • Establish rituals for significant passages • Know friends and what they are doing • Provide structured environment/clear expectations