Issues Affecting Psychological Development in Adolescents
Ordinarily, the adolescence stage of human development among teenagers is usually masked by an array of psychological issues especially with regard to personal responsibility and character formation. In most cases, adolescents are observed to develop anti-social behaviors such as juvenile delinquency, suicide and substance abuse. In addition, some adolescents become rebellious to authority, and they often y express identity issues. It is believed that the adolescence stage of human development is the most sensitive, especially with regard to health risks and identity formation crisis which may orient teenagers to unsafe social behavior, leading to social and health harm. From a psychological perspective, adolescent’s psychological development is profoundly influenced by family, school and the social-cultural environment within which they grow in (Claiborne & Drewery 2009). Some of the most significant aspects of adolescent development, which are affected in the process of development, include biopsychosocial development, family disruption, self-esteem and cognitive abilities. In addition, psychological development among adolescents is faced with challenges in acquiring cognitive and social skills which are relevant in their ultimate social growth and mental health. It is believed that, the roles of the parents and family at large are fundamental in helping the adolescents to acquire appreciable social behavior for efficient advancement into the adulthood stage of development which requires a high level of social character, especially with regard to the societal norms and cultural customs. On the other hand, adolescents are exposed to numerous health threats, especially with regard to mental health, owing to their possible exposure to substance abuse and peer pressure. Therefore, this essay will focus on the psychological developmental issues related the adolescence stage of human development. It will give a comprehensive analysis of the adolescent’s psychological development in both single and nuclear families, especially with regard to the teenage ability to assume different roles in the family. It will also highlight on health threats faced by adolescents during their development in their social-cultural environment in relation to developmental theory.
In regard to parenthood, teenagers are believed to acquire psychological development differently depending with the type of the family they are brought up. This phenomenon can be explained by the Attachment Theory.
It is believed that teenagers who grow up in a single family, either with the mother or father manifest diverse social characters compared to those brought up in nuclear families where both parents are present. In practice, teenagers who are brought up in a single family are observed to express a high degree of maturity owing to their responsibilities in the family. However, it is worth noting that, teenager’s overall psychological development relies heavily on the parenting style adopted by the parents. This is what brings out the gap between teenagers growing in a single family and those in a nuclear family.
Ordinarily, teenagers in single families are supposed to play an array of responsibilities to fill in the parental gap. As such, they are forced to assume some parental responsibilities such as taking care of their young siblings and participating in the family decision process. Consequently, they tend to portray maturity more than teenagers growing up in nuclear families.
In understanding this difference in psychological development among teenagers in different family setups, especially with regard to the ability to assume extensive responsibilities which portray their maturity, the Attachment Theory can be applied. However, it is worth noting that the Attachment Theory is usually related to parenting styles.
Ideally, the Attachment Theory defines relationship between people with regard to their psychological connectedness (Cherry 2013). For instance, the relationship between a teenager and his/her parent/parents is defined by the Attachment Theory. On the other hand, parenting styles determines the teenagers’ social character, especially with regard to social control and upholding the tenets of personal responsibilities.
From an analytical perspective, most single families manifest secure attachment, in which parents, either the mother or father provides security to the teenager. Teenagers are assured of comfort from the single parent because they do not have an alternative; unlike in the nuclear family where characteristics of ambivalent, disorganized and avoidant attachments are witnessed at one time of the teenager’s development before adulthood. The observed secure attachment between the teenagers growing in a single family creates an opportunity for the development of mature characteristics, owing to the nature of tasks and responsibilities assigned to the teenagers by their parents. For instance, teenagers in a single family are usually accorded some degree of trust by their parents, owing to their abilities to carry out some social roles which are regarded to be done by adults. It is obvious that teenagers growing up in single families are responsible for taking care to the young siblings. Besides, they are supposed to play some fundamental social roles in the lives of their siblings by molding their character and showing them the best social values. Ideally, elder teenagers are supposed to be role models to their juniors through adopting appreciable social character and showing a sense of maturity.
In contrast, teenagers growing up in nuclear families where both mother and father are present do not show a high level of maturity; instead, their parents assume the full responsibility of showing their children the way to follow in their day-to-day activities. These teenagers hardly develop intuitions to handle diverse responsibilities because most of the social tasks are accomplished by their parents. In regard to the Attachment Theory, most teenagers in nuclear families exhibit ambivalent attachment in the even one of the parents is absent, and they are unable to survive with one parent. Moreover, characteristics of disorganized attachment are also manifested among teenagers growing up in nuclear families. In this family set up, teenagers are offered alternatives because both parents do not respond to the teenager the same way. In most cases, teenagers are attached more to one parent; either the mother or father than to the other, creating unclear attachment patterns. In some circumstances, teenagers perceive one of the parents as a source of fear, and this is what causes disorganized behavior (Cherry 2013, par. 12).
In regard to parenting, most single parents adopt authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles through which parents establish sets of rules and guidelines to be followed by their children. From a psychological perspective, single parents prefer authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles because they enhance children maturity among teenagers, especially with regard to assuming some adult responsibilities. In most cases, single parents focus on nurturing responsible characters among their children to fill the parental gap. As a result, their approaches to the teenager’s discipline are relatively supportive because they train their children to be socially responsible by being assertive.
On the other hand, parents in nuclear families tend to portray permissive and unsolved parenting styles, in which parents pay little attention to their children’s discipline. Research shows that parents in nuclear families are lenient and nontraditional; thus, they do not require mature behavior qualities in their children. Instead, they tend to avoid confrontation with their children, and they allow appreciable self-regulation. It is believed that permissive parents adopt disciplinary methods which are punitive rather than supportive, hence discouraging the development of self maturity among their children, especially during adolescence when children tend to develop rebellious behavior (Cherry 2013).
However, diversity has a role to play in the formation of responsible behavior as it is the case with teenagers growing up in single families. Despite the uncertainty whether maturity characteristics occur with respect to social and biological diversity, it has been observed that male teenagers who are brought up in single families, especially in families with the mother only, record a reduced degree of responsibility compared to their female counterparts who portray appreciable sense of maturity. This is probably so because; adolescent boys are relatively naughty regardless of their family set up. Therefore, they are at a risk of coping irresponsive behaviors from their peers.
Mental health is another significant psychological development issue among the adolescents, especially with regard to suicidal behaviors. Mental health is regarded to as the central determinant of quality of life (Bovier, Chamot & Pernege 2004). Ordinarily, adolescent stage of human development is accompanied by emotional changes which cause distress in some circumstances. Most teenagers exhibit temper moods characterized with fatal episodes such as suicide and violent attacks on their peers or other members of the society including their parents. Brent (2001) states, “While there are several co-factors for suicidal behavior, the single most signiﬁcant predisposing factor appears to be a liability to impulsive aggression: impulsive aggression is a tendency to respond with hostility or aggression when faced with stress or frustration” (par. 10). Juvenile delinquency has been found to be one of the most prevalent characteristics among teenagers, owing to peer-pressure and exposure to substance abuse. In general, theories of suicidal behavior can explain the reasons behind teenage suicide.
Suicide has been found to be one of the leading causes of death among the adolescents, owing to their abnormal behaviors. Teenage suicide is believed to have assumed upward trends since 1950s, and this is attributable to the availability of firearms in the environment. However, psychiatric illnesses are believed to play a significant role in the prevalence of the issue. Brent (2001) reports, “Nine out of ten suicide completers and attempters have at least one principal psychiatric illness; in half of these cases, two or more such illnesses are present, dramatically increasing the risk for suicidal behavior” (par. 7).
Despite the biological factor, teenage suicide can also be associated with the current advancement of the computer technology. Nowadays, most teenagers are attracted to computer games which expose them to harmful content, primarily in assault computer games which involve the use of firearms. This behavior among the teenagers can be explained by the Self-Determination Theory. However, the relation between teenage suicide and the Self-Determination Theory appears relatively different from its application in enhancing intrinsic behavior.
It is believed that teenagers are deeply interested in computer games which influence their behavior by increasing curiosity. In playing action games on computers, they develop curiosity to practice what they see in the games. This curiosity leads them to personal interests in making attempts to actualize what they see in the games. For instance, a teenage would attempt to assault his peers, more or less the same way as he sees it done in computer games leading physical injuries. Assaults involving the use of weapons such as firearms are quite fatal because it may result into unexpected death. In some cases, teenagers apply assault techniques learned in the computer games whenever they get angered by their peers or even parents. Fatal outcomes result in case the furious teenager has access to firearms. It is believed that, the rising cases of homicides among teenagers are as a result of firearm accessibility by the teens.
On the other hand, juvenile delinquency is also associated to the increasing tendency of playing computer games among the teenagers. In most cases, peer pressure reinforces the acquired violent behavior learned in computer games. That is probably the reason as to why most teenagers are developing violent behaviors.
In regard to social diversity, adolescence boys have been found to be attracted to computer games more than their female counterparts. However, psychological research statistics indicate that adolescent females are prone to suicide more than their male counterpart.
In a brief conclusion, adolescents are faced with numerous psychological development issues which require parental guidance and social assistance to enable them cope with the underlying challenges. As such, the roles played by parents should not be underrated in character formation of the teenagers. Matthews Allan Ides reaffirms that, parents serve as a constant source of emotional support (Ides 2009). However, teenagers exhibit diverse characteristics, especially with regard to assuming responsibilities and maturity virtues. For instance, teenagers who are brought up by single parents tend to be more mature than those growing in nuclear families. These social differences can be described by the Attachment and Self-Determination Theories of development. Britton, Williams and Conner (2008) state that, “intrinsic motivation is associated with improved mental health and well-being” (p. 54). Therefore, correcting suicidal behavior among teenagers requires appr opriate application of this theory.
In regard to threats to mental health, the present-day teenagers are increasingly becoming engrossed to computer games which are believed to enhance suicide behaviors among them. Consequently, suicidal behaviors among teenagers are assuming upward trends; thus, creating the need to address the issue using appropriate psychological approaches.