Understanding adolescents: How to support them

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“Adolescence is a new birth, for the higher and more completely human traits are now born” stated G. Stanley Hall. But adolescence is not the end of childhood. It is a part f it. It is not the time to get to of the children. It is the time to watch over them than ever before as they refine and define their search for their identity. At this stage, the adolescent is ready to start the pursuit of emotional independence. He is ready to get introduced to moral, ethical and cultural issues. All critical issues in the overall scheme of life. Providing the right kind of guidance at this phase will light up the path that will carry the individual through his life.
What are the key characteristics of adolescence? What should we keep in mind while guiding them? How can we help adolescents live up to their full potential?
The Key developmental Requirement:
The most vital requirement of adolescence is the creation of the adult. In this stage, there is a conscious attempt to understand various social, moral and cultural facets with a view to carve out a place for themselves in the world. This is their search for identity.
Key Characteristics:
Adolescence is the search for identity. It marks the stage of great mental and social transformation where he starts to define his moral, economic, cultural and social values and examine his role in society.
Emphasis of learning
During Adolescence, the emphasis is on further refinement of the learning with a specific focus on how it fits in with the big picture of life. The attempt is to distill the learnings into a moral, social, economic and cultural code that will form the basis of his definition of identity.
Mode of learning
During adolescence, the intellect gets further refined, because of the cumulative memory, information and knowledge. It acquires several facets that had not developed earlier such as enquiry into moral, cultural and social aspects. The mode of learning is not only intellectually but also relational’ related to the individual’s search for identity.
Tools for development
During adolescence, the intellect manifested as the ability to make connections between different pieces of knowledge as well as the ability to make connections with the world as they see it, are the primary tools for knowledge acquisition.
Pace of development
During adolescence, the pace of development is dependent on the extent to which there is guidance with regard to helping the brain make sense of the world and put it together in a form that is interpretable and usable in daily practical life. The faster the person is able to make the connections between knowledge and practical application, the faster will be the pace of growth.
Readiness for moral appreciation
During adolescence, when the basic foundations of good and bad, are laid, the stage is set where the person is ready to face emotional and ideological situations which represent more complex and complicated variables. The brain is ready to start processing grey’ areas where the answers are not always black and white.
Key leverage in development
During adolescence, the readiness to make commitments and assume responsibility is the best levers for development. The intention to make a contribution to the world around them coupled with appropriate physical and intellectual capabilities should be leveraged upon to make maximum progress during this stage.
Frame of mind
During adolescence, there is setting in of vulnerability, self-consciousness, self concern and self assessment. The frame of mind is critical and evaluative because of the search for the truth’ behind various moral, social and cultural questions.
Key Developmental requirements
During adolescence, the key developmental requirement is about making connections between various concepts gathered so far, so as to form an integrated and holistic view of the world that will help in the definition of self-identity.
Key Focus of Development
During adolescence, the focus of development should be to provide new exposures, challenges and scenarios that will help in the further refining to intelligence based on both concrete and abstract variables. There should also be guidance which will help in the making of connections of various pieces of knowledge and experience to form a good mental model of reality. To this end, the environment has to provide activities and experiences that are directly connected to real life.
Purple Doodles

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