How do we develop?Written by Dr. Sunita Rai
Development does not end once a person reaches physical maturity, but continues throughout life. Developmental psychologists seek to describe and analyze the regularities of human development across the entire life span. It focuses primarily on those aspects of development that make one person similar to another as a species (Atkinson, 1993).
Just prior to maturity is the stage of adolescence. This is the period where the physical and psychological changes take place. The beginning of adolescence is indicated by changes known as puberty. Generally, girls mature earlier than boys. Girls between the ages of 10 or 11, develop breasts and their hips become more rounded. These physical changes affect their looks, self-esteem and personality, as girls become more ladylike. Boys undergo certain changes, such as a change in voice, rapid growth in height, growth of hair on the face, chest, and other parts of the body. Radical changes in attitudes and interests may occur, but there is consciousness in acting the role of adults. Conflicts may be experienced or may arise as a result of psychological behavior patterns in the attempt to achieve maturity.
In addition, according to Erik Erikson, a child will encounter different kinds of problems in infancy and childhood, which will shape one’s social and personality development. A child according to Erikson will encounter a particular psychosocial problem at each stage. If he successfully solves the problem, he will develop a good social trait that will help him solve the next problem. If he is unsuccessful, he will develop an unhealthy social trait that will hinder his or her solving new problems at the next stages of development. These stages, according to Erikson, are concepts that succinctly capture the distinctiveness of each particular stage (Atkinson, 1993). Erikson labels his stages accordingly as Trust versus mistrust, Autonomy versus Shame and doubt, Initiative versus guilt, Industry versus inferiority, Identity versus role confusion, Intimacy versus Isolation,Generativity versus stagnation, and Integrity versus despair (Atkinson, 1993).
Adolescence is a period of considerable stress. While much of the stress can by minimized through support, persistence, and active decision making and planning, there still will be times when young people find themselves in difficult situations. Coping with stress is associated with various competencies such as organizational adaptability, human relations, problem solving, and self-confidence. Particular strategies for stress management include relaxation techniques, managing 'self talk,' focusing, and using support systems.
Young people are influenced by various personallosses. These losses involved death in the family and the experience of parental separation and divorce. The impact of these losses upon career events was considerable, suggesting a definite need for youth to develop competence in handling loss and grieving. Counseling in this domain blurs many of the traditional distinctions between the personal and career areas.
In my work with adolescence, I focus on helping them express and share their confusions, stresses and losses while helping them build hope for the future. A kind voice and guiding figure is always helpful in times of turbulence.