Developmental Tasks of Adolescence

Being Aware of Tasks will Help Better Understand the Self

Consider This Big Idea...

How are expectations for an adult's behaviour different from those for an adolescent?

What is Adolescence?

Definition: The period following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult (aka teenage years, teens, youth)
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Adolescence is an exciting period of your life when many changes occur. However, it is also a time of many challenges. Both the excitement and challenges of this period involve making many decisions. These decisions are ideally based on your values and lead to reaching your goals. By achieving these goals, the developmental tasks of adolescence, you are better prepared for young adulthood.

What are you going to do with your life? What do you need to do to ensure you're on the right path?

What To Do With Your Life

Accept and Manage your Changing Body

Because of biological changes that occur during adolescence, sharp physical differences occur both within each sex and between sexes. Young adolescents are usually quite concerned about their physical appearance. Growth Spurts during this age period vary widely, and individual differences are quite normal.


Adolescents experience many changes in their bodies. Many of the changes are related to the ability to reproduce. These changes cause adolescents to experience a normal heightened sexual drive. Some adolescents lack the maturity and control to deal with their capacity for reproduction even when they understand it. This is one reason teenage pregnancy has become a major social problem in the United States and Canada.


In today's society, there tends to be more openness and honesty about sexual matters. Adolescents make more healthy adjustments when they feel they can talk to their parents and other adults about their concerns. No matter how open and helpful the communication is, however, you have the final responsibility for managing and controlling your own actions. The social and moral changes that have occurred today make this responsibility a challenging and important one.

Watch the Following Video

Teen Physical Development and Sleep

Participate in a Variety of Social Experiences

You will be involved with other people throughout life. You deal with people whether you participate in work, leisure, or school activities. Adolescence is an ideal time to have a variety of social experiences both at school and through other daily experiences. These may include part-time jobs and organizations outside school.


These experiences give you the opportunity to learn and practice social skills. You will move from a feeling of social awkwardness to a more confident feeling of social poise. A variety of experiences points out the great differences between people - the uniqueness of each person. As you meet more people, you will begin to understand how and why they have different thoughts and feelings. You will become more tolerant of others.


A sense of belonging or feeling like a part of a group is a basic human need throughout life. Adolescents are no longer children and yet not considered adults. Therefore, they create a group or culture of their own. Peer groups play an important role in an adolescent's development. Many adolescents conform to the values, customs, and fads of the group. The power of the peer group may be either positive or negative. Either way, it has a strong influence on the adolescent.


People develop deeper relationships with their peers during adolescence. Having a special friend you trust and are open and honest with is a special experience. Friendships like this prepare adolescents for later adult relationships. Close friendships give you the opportunity to learn about the values, personalities, and family backgrounds of others. Friendships also give you the opportunity to interact with a variety of individuals and further develop your communication skills. Not all teenagers show an interest in dating at the same time. Some young people are deeply involved in hobbies or activities that leave few hours or little desire for dating relationships. It is important to recognize that not everyone is interested in dating relationships during adolescence.


Most people have ample opportunity to move toward social maturity during adolescence. If a person does not achieve this developmental task during adolescence, it will be more difficult to achieve later in young adult life. Young adults with feelings of personal inadequacy and social isolation often have difficulty with new social experiences as they get older.

#1 Challenge your Thinking:

With the people sitting at your table, discuss how having a variety of interests helps an individual become more interesting to others.
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Assume More Responsibility While Moving Toward Greater Independence

Adolescents want the freedom to test their own ideas and become independent. This is perfectly normal. You may experience frustration as you desire independence, yet realize how you depend on your parents financially and emotionally.


Becoming more independent means gradually assuming responsibility for yourself. Infants are almost totally dependent on their parents for both physical and emotional needs. Children become less dependent as they grow older. By adolescence, a person is able to assume many responsibilities of daily living.


An adolescent's ability to move toward independence depends to a large degree on the attitude of the parents. Parents who provide guidance and control rather than domination make the task of becoming independent easier for their children. They encourage adolescents to solve problems and make decisions. When parents give adolescents real responsibilities and encourage them to participate in family affairs, those adolescents are practicing skills they will use in the future. They are preparing for adult living.


As adolescents accept more responsibilities, parents develop more trust. Therefore, additional privileges are extended. As more trust develops, the relationship between parents and adolescents often undergoes a special change. Parents become friends who provide guidance. This is an important step toward greater independence.

Develop Personal Resources Helpful in Reaching Future Goals

Personal Resources include your personal qualities, capabilities, talents, and skills. Although some personal resources are inherited, many can be developed and expanded. Adolescence is a period in life when you have many opportunities to expand and develop your resources. Physical stamina, opportunities for education, and spirit to improve yourself are all strong during adolescence.


As you have read, certain personal qualities make up character. These qualities include personality traits such as tolerance, generosity, honesty, trustworthiness, care and fairness. Character traits develop over time, and the growth of character continues throughout life. An individual with a strong character shows these positive personality traits through his or her actions.


Physical health, mental health, and personality are valuable personal resources you can assess and strengthen. Improved diet, exercise, and proper health care can build your physical health. In terms of mental health, most adolescents are aware of shortcomings in their personalities. Perhaps they know they can be stubborn, unfriendly, moody, or aggressive. Other adolescents may feel they have personality problems because they have trouble communicating with their peers. Maybe their peers seem to avoid them. These adolescents may have trouble identifying their actual problem. School and community resources are available to help.


Most adolescents do realize a good education is one of the greatest resources available. Attending school gives you the opportunity to expand your knowledge and develop countless talents and skills. Skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening help you communicate with others. Course work helps you develop abilities to reason. Learning to solve problems helps adolescents deal with increasing challenges. A student's performance in school will affect his or her future as far as job possibilities, additional schooling, and a career.


With additional knowledge, adolescents have a more complete sense of the world and a more complete feeling of self. It helps you set more realistic personal goals based on what is most important to you.

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Continue to Develop a Healthy Self-Concept

Daily new experiences, educational opportunities, and social experiences all affect your self-concept. When you understand the meaning and importance of a healthy self-concept, you can assume responsibility for shaping your own self-image.


Ideally, adolescents move from a vague self-concept to a more complete one. They become more aware of their abilities and interests and more accurately perceive their values. They also become aware of their uniqueness as individuals.

Prepare for and Become Successfully Involved in a Career

In today's society, young adults are expected to become financially independent. The choice of a career or occupation is important in the way it affects your life. Where you live, the clothes you wear, the food you eat, your daily schedule, and your social life all depend on your job. Even your health and self-concept are related to the job you choose.


Although most people work to earn a living, their jobs may also be important for other reasons. Some people may gain respect and a feeling of self-worth through their work. For others, work may be an opportunity to be involved socially. A job may also be an opportunity to express creativity.


Social and technological changes have a constant effect on opportunities in the world of work. The amount of education or training required depends on the occupation. Most jobs have possibilities for advancement through increased skills or seniority. Some do not have this potential.


Although being employed can have many immediate rewards, it is wise to consider the long-term effects of employment. A person's occupation involves a great investment of time, emotional energy, and commitment. Because of this, a person's life at work and home are interrelated. Positive or negative factors at work or at home can affect the success or failure of each.

#2 Challenge your Thinking:

A person's self-esteem is strengthened by achieving certain developmental tasks. Choose a developmental task and describe a situation that illustrates how achieving this task affects self-esteem.

Expand Social Relationships and Assume Social Responsibilities

The self-concept has become more stable for young adults, and they have a clearer sense of values. This growing understanding of self and others makes young adults become more selective in their relationships. They learn to appreciate others for their unique qualities. Young adults develop a deeper career and concern for others.


Many young adults date as they are exploring deeper relationships. Dating provides experience with members of the opposite sex that can improve communication and increase social maturity. Young adults have social experiences with a variety of people. This gives them the opportunity to consider what personal qualities are important in selecting a marriage partner.


Because of their age, young adults automatically assume certain social obligations. Just one example is the responsibility to voice opinions by voting on issues involving the community or the country. Interest in community and political activities varies greatly among individuals. Involvement in organizations satisfies personal needs for recognition and self-worth for many people.


Schools are just one example of volunteer opportunities for young adults. Through personal involvement in schools, they learn to recognize problems that teachers and administrators face. They can then explain these challenges to friends and family members who have less knowledge of local educational issues.

#3 Challenge your Thinking:

Make a list of advantages to the adolescent of mixing with people of all ages.

Use Management Skills Related to Daily Living

Keeping yourself healthy, eating well, maintaining a place to live, and managing your finances are some of the challenges involved with everyday living. Using management skills will help keep your life running smoothly.


The management and decision-making processes are valuable resources to use in dealing with daily challenges.


Organizational skills such as time and energy management also are important resources in daily living.


Young adults need to be aware of how their daily decisions affect their health. Many lifestyle diseases - diseases that are closely related to behaviour - can begin in the young adult years. Eating right, exercising, and making intelligent decisions involving your health are valuable management skills.


Management skills contribute to the organization and maintenance of the home. A person's home might be a room, apartment, or house. Consumer skills are helpful in selecting food, clothing, household equipment, and other financial and personal needs.


Skill in financial management is important in guiding the use of the money earned and also in planning for future financial security. Understanding the use of credit ad the importance of insurance to financial security will also help the young adult.

#4 Challenge your Thinking:

Make a list of responsibilities an adolescent could assume in a family to prepare for marriage and family life in the future.

Continue Self-Enriching Pursuits

Many young adults are "on top of the world." They have become independent of their parents, mainly because of a job and their own income. They have moved toward a more clearly defined self. Many young adults choose a period of personal freedom before settling down to the responsibilities of marriage and family life.


This time presents an opportunity for young adults to pursue avocational interests - interests outside their occupation - in depth. Time may be used to establish leisure interests that promote physical, social, emotional, and intellectual health and growth. These interests developed in young adulthood are often the basis for activities that will be enjoyed throughout life.

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#5 Group Task: What is Maturity?

Assemble into a group of 2 people and complete the following:

What is maturity? What factors influence maturity? Why do some people mature “faster” than others?


Think of a social experience.


Write a case study that shows how an adolescent might mature socially through this specific social experience.


Share the case study with other groups in the class.