Monday, July 16, 2012

Adolescence: Psychosocial Milestones

As baby nears adulthood, she goes through a crisis of self. The question on her mind will be, "Who am I?" Erikson called this stage identity versus role confusion. This complex search for self becomes the primary focus of adolescence, contributing at least in part to almost everything she does. The ultimate goal of adolescence and this psychosocial crisis is identity achievement - the understanding of self as a unique individual. The opposite is role confusion, the adolescent simply does not know or sometimes even care what her identity is, and it is characterized by apathy. The adolescent in role confusion has trouble getting homework done, putting clothes away, and thinking about the future. The only response you'll ever hear from such a teen is, "Whatever."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Adolescence: Cognitive Milestones

Just when you thought that baby's childish egocentrism had disappeared, she becomes a teenager. The adolescent egocentrism that makes her think everyone is staring at her will drive you crazy, but it's not her fault. Just like with the growth spurt, neurological development in adolescence comes one piece at a time. The limbic system that controls fear matures, then the prefrontal cortex that regulates those emotions. Teenagers become reactive and emotional before they can regulate those mood swings.

Researchers do have to be careful not to blame everything a teenager does on incomplete brain development as they continue to study adolescence. The research can be expensive and as a result there is not much research done on children between the ages of 10 and 17. So try as you might to get baby to be cautious in these formative years, she probably won't be and the research can't tell you all of just why that is yet.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Adolescence: Biosocial Milestones

Around age 11, you're starting to wonder where your baby went and by 18 she has all but disappeared and turned into an adult - although perhaps a bit less mature and more impulsive.

Childhood ends and melts into adolescence with the onset of puberty. Puberty normally begins between the ages of 8 and 14. With girls you'll notice puberty when she starts to develop breasts, pubic hair makes its first appearance, and she goes through a growth spurt. This is followed by a widening of the hips, her first menstrual period (the technical term is menarche), more pubic hair (its final pattern), and full breast development. With boys, his testes will grow, pubic hair will make an appearance, his penis will grow, he will ejaculate for the first time (spermarche), facial hair will start to grow, he'll go through a growth spurt, his voice will deepen, and finally more pubic hair. The typical age of menarche (girls) is 12 years and 8 months; for boys the typical age of spermarche is a little before 13 years, so the two take place at about the same time.