Middle adolescence: characteristics and changes occurring therein

Mid-adolescence is one of the sub-stages that we go through humans after childhood and before adulthood. It is a crucial stage for the development of complex psychological processes such as identity, and it is itself a period in which significant changes occur on a biological and social level.

We will see below what are the phases of adolescence and how the middle of adolescence is characterized.

    What is adolescence?

    Adolescence is one of the stages in the human life cycle. It is characterized by significant psychological, biological and social changes, And is considered the stage that follows childhood and precedes adulthood, so this is one of the broadest and most crucial times for anyone.

    Psychologist and international consultant on programs and policies for adolescents and young people, Dina Krauskopof (1999) tells us that adolescence is the period between 10 and 20 years. More than a process of transition, it is a stage which marks different differential aspects of human development, manifested by important transformations at the psychosocial level and in sexual development.

    Likewise, one of the processes that takes place in this period is individuation, As it contributes to the personal and social definition, as well as to the exploration, to the differentiation of the family environment, to the search for belonging and to the construction of a meaning of life.

    We will then follow the analyzes carried out by the same researcher to describe the main characteristics of the middle of adolescence, as well as the differences with the other sub-stages of this period.

      Phases of this stage of development

      In an attempt to facilitate their understanding, adolescence has been divided into different sub-stages, among which is the onset of adolescence, which is also the pubertal or pubertal phase; mid-adolescence and finally, late adolescence or late adolescence. Each corresponds to the following ages:

      • Early adolescence, 10 to 13 years old.
      • Average adolescence, from 14 to 16 years old.
      • Final stage, from 17 to 19 years old.

      The first of these stages is characterized by bodily differentiation with caregivers and peers, so it requires readjustment of body schema and a major concern about it.

      Instead, the second step involves social differentiation of the family group and couples, Which requires a significant reaffirmation. This reaffirmation is done at the individual level but in close connection with external recognition.

      Finally, the third step is based on the development of projects, the exploration of social alternatives and research by related groups.

      Middle adolescence: general characteristics

      As mentioned earlier, mid adolescence is characterized by a concern for reconcile personal and external recognition. While the first stage of recognition is based on physical or bodily exploration, in the second there is a particular psychological concern, which manifests itself in the search for emotional bonds and the acceptance of the peer group.

      Due to the above, the main reference group and even psychological security, ceases to be family and begins to focus on friendly or emotional bonds with peers.

      It is a fundamental process for the development of autonomy, individual responsibility and identity, as well as for the development of complex cognitive processes such as symbolization, generalization and abstraction, which allow to establish a broader view of the world.

      This also forms the basis of much of the concern at this point, in fact, romantic relationships usually begin to consolidate at this point, Around shared experiences and interests.

      Finally, intergenerational relations are a key element, because they make it possible to consolidate the identification process through establish complementary or antagonistic differences between themselves and members of different groups.

      Some psychosocial elements

      We summarize below some of the specific elements surrounding mid-adolescence, particularly at the psychosocial level. According to Krauskopof (1999), the middle of adolescence is characterized mainly by a concern for personal-social affirmation, which includes certain elements that we will see below:

      • Differentiation of the family group.
      • Parental grief following the loss of the desired child.
      • I want to assert sexual and social appeal.
      • Emergence of sexual impulses.
      • Exploration of personal skills.
      • Social concern and for new activities.
      • Challenging previous positions.

      Characteristics of neuronal, cognitive and psychological maturation

      As we have said, adolescence is characterized by the manifestation of changes on a biological as well as psychological and social level. According to the World Health Organization (2010), some changes occurring in mid-adolescence, particularly related to neurological, cognitive and psychological development, are as follows:

      • Growth of the prefrontal cortex, Which relates to influencing social issues and developing problem-solving skills.
      • Cognitive skills such as the development of abstract thinking (although there is concrete thinking in stressful situations); and a better understanding of the consequences of acts, with a particular concern for oneself.
      • Body image development.
      • Development of impractical or improbable projects.
      • Meaningful sense of empowerment.

      Social factors associated with this phase of life

      In addition to the above, while adolescence can be seen as a time that everyone goes through, their development and specific characteristics may vary according to the cultural elements that surround it.

      So, there are historical and social factors that can affect adolescence to be experienced in one way by some people, and in very different ways by other people.

      These elements can be, for example, the social changes produced by globalization, where there is a demand for cultural exchange while the socio-economic polarities are accentuated.

      Another element is the modernization and rapid technological development that social relations and identity construction even among adolescents; question to which is added the increase in life expectancy and therefore a possible extension of this stage of development.

      Finally, due to the gap in knowledge and practices between the generations, the aspirations of adolescence tend to be different from the expectations of the family and even of the education system, which in turn generates new needs for bonding communication.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Stages of Adolescent Development (2010). World Health Organization. Accessed August 28, 2018.Available at http://apps.who.int/adolescent/second-decade/section/section_2/level2_2.php
      • Krauskopof, D. (1999). Psychological development in adolescence: transformations in the era of change. Adolescence and health, 1 (2): online version. Accessed August 28, 2018.Available at http://www.scielo.sa.cr/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1409-41851999000200004

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