Characteristics of Adolescents

April 16, 2007 at 7:04 pm (all, blogging, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, High School, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, personal, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized)

Sometimes it is difficult for us to remember what being an adolescent was like.  Today’s tip is a reminder of the characteristics of adolescents.  The more you understand them, the greater the likelihood of dealing with them in a sane, positive manner!  If you keep these characteristics in mind while designing your instruction, you can provide an atmosphere conducive to learning for all of your students.

Characteristics of Young AdolescentsYouth between the ages of 10 to 15 are characterized by their diversity as they move through the puberty growth cycle at varying times and rates. Yet as a group they reflect important developmental characteristics that have major implications for those agencies that seek to serve them.

In the area of Intellectual Development, young adolescents:

bullet Display a wide range of individual intellectual development
bullet Are in a transition period from concrete thinking to abstract thinking
bullet Are intensely curious and have a wide range of intellectual pursuits, few of which are sustained
bullet Prefer active over passive learning experiences
bullet Prefer interaction with peers during learning activities
bullet Respond positively to opportunities to participate in real life situations
bullet Are often preoccupied with self
bullet Have a strong need for approval and may be easily discouraged
bullet Develop an increasingly better understanding of personal abilities
bullet Are inquisitive about adults, often challenging their authority, and always observing them
bullet May show disinterest in conventional academic subjects but are intellectually curious about the world and themselves
bullet Are developing a capacity to understand higher levels of humor

In the area of Moral Development, young adolescents:

bullet Are generally idealistic, desiring to make the world a better place and to become socially useful
bullet Are in transition from moral reasoning which focuses on “what’s in it for me” to that which considers the feelings and rights of others
bullet Often show compassion for those who are downtrodden or suffering and have special concern for animals and the environmental problems that our world faces
bullet Are moving from acceptance of adult moral judgments to development of their own personal values; nevertheless, they tend to embrace values consonant with those of their parents
bullet Rely on parents and significant adults for advice when facing major decisions
bullet Increasingly assess moral matters in shades of grey as opposed to viewing them in black and white terms characteristic of younger children
bullet At times are quick to see flaws in others but slow to acknowledge their own faults
bullet Owing to their lack of experience are often impatient with the pace of change, underestimating the difficulties in making desired social changes
bullet Are capable of and value direct experience in participatory democracy
bullet Greatly need and are influenced by adult role models who will listen to them and affirm their moral consciousness and actions as being trustworthy role models
bullet Are increasingly aware of and concerned about inconsistencies between values exhibited by adults and the conditions they see in society

In the area of Physical Development, young adolescents:

bullet Experience rapid, irregular physical growth
bullet Undergo bodily changes that may cause awkward, uncoordinated movements
bullet Have varying maturity rates, with girls tending to mature one and one-half to two years earlier than boys
bullet May be at a disadvantage because of varied rates of maturity that may require the understanding of caring adults
bullet Experience restlessness and fatigue due to hormonal changes
bullet Need daily physical activity because of increased energy
bullet Develop sexual awareness that increases as secondary sex characteristics begin to appear
bullet Are concerned with bodily changes that accompany sexual maturation and changes resulting in an increase in nose size, protruding ears, long arms, and awkward posture
bullet Have preference for junk foods but need good nutrition
bullet Often lack physical fitness, with poor levels of endurance, strength, and flexibility
bullet Are physically vulnerable because they may adopt poor health habits or engage in risky experimentation with drugs and sex

In the area of Emotional/Psychological Development, young adolescents:

bullet Experience mood swings often with peaks of intensity and unpredictability
bullet Need to release energy, often resulting in sudden, apparently meaningless outbursts of activity
bullet Seek to become increasingly independent, searching for adult identity and acceptance
bullet Are increasingly concerned about peer acceptance
bullet Tend to be self-conscious, lacking in self-esteem, and highly sensitive to personal criticism
bullet Exhibit intense concern about physical growth and maturity as profound physical changes occur
bullet Increasingly behave in ways associated with their sex as sex role identification strengthens
bullet Are concerned with many major societal issues as personal value systems develop
bullet Believe that personal problems, feelings, and experiences are unique to themselves
bullet Are psychologically vulnerable, because at no other stage in development are they more likely to encounter so many differences between themselves and others.

In the area of Social Development, young adolescents:

bullet Have a strong need to belong to a group, with peer approval becoming more important as adult approval decreases in importance
bullet In their search for self, model behavior after older, esteemed students or non-parent adults
bullet May exhibit immature behavior because their social skills frequently lag behind their mental and physical maturity
bullet Experiment with new slang and behaviors as they search for a social position within their group, often discarding these “new identities” at a later date
bullet Must adjust to the social acceptance of early maturing girls and the athletic successes of early maturing boys, especially if they themselves are maturing at a slower rate
bullet Are dependent on parental beliefs and values but seek to make their own decisions
bullet Are often intimidated and frightened by their first middle level school experience because of the large numbers of students and teachers and the size of the building
bullet Desire recognition for their efforts and achievements
bullet Like fads, especially those shunned by adults
bullet Often overreact to ridicule, embarrassment, and rejection
bullet Are socially vulnerable because, as they develop their beliefs, attitudes, and values, the influence of media and negative experiences with adults and peers may compromise their ideals and values

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