Characteristics of Adolescent Growth and Development, Biological, Cognitive and Social


Characteristics of Adolescent Growth and Development


1. Biological Development

Physical changes that occur in adolescents are seen at the time of puberty, namely increasing height and weight and social maturity. Among the physical changes, the biggest influence on the mental development of adolescents is the growth of the body (the body becomes longer and taller). Furthermore, the reproductive organs begin to function (marked by menstruation in women and wet dreams in men) and secondary sexual signs that grow (Sarwono, 2006: 52).

Furthermore, according to Muss (in Sunarto & Agung Hartono, 2002: 79) describes that the physical changes that occur in girls are; growth of bones, body becomes tall, limbs become long, breasts grow. Fine, dark hair grows on pubic area, reaches maximum growth in height every year, pubic hair becomes curly, menstruation or menstruation, hair grows armpit.

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Potter & Perry (2005:535) also said that after the initial growth of breast tissue, the nipple and areola increase in size. This process is partly controlled by heredity, starting at as little as 8 years of age and may not be complete by 10 years of age. Elevated estrogen levels also begin to affect the genitals. The uterus begins to enlarge and there is an increase in vaginal lubrication, this can occur spontaneously or as a result of sexual stimulation. The vagina lengthens, and pubic and axillary hair begins to grow.

While in boys the changes that occur include; growth of bones, growth of pubic hair which is fine, straight, and dark in color, early changes in voice, ejaculation (release of semen), pubic hair becomes curly, growth in height reaches its maximum level every year, growth of fine hair on the face (mustache), beard), armpit hair grows, voice changes, facial hair grows thicker and darker, and chest hair grows. Elevated testosterone levels are characterized by an increase in the size of the penis, testes, prostate and seminal vesicles.

Perry & Potter (2005:690) revealed that the four main focuses of physical change are:

1. Increased rate of skeletal, muscle and visceral growth

2. Sex-specific changes, such as shoulder and hip changes

3. Changes in muscle and fat distribution

4. Development of the reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics.

Basically, adolescent physical changes are caused by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus gland. The two glands each cause the growth of body size and stimulate the activity and growth of the main and second genitalia in adolescents (Sunarto & Agung Hartono, 2002:94).

2. Cognitive Development

According to Piaget (in Santrock, 2002: 15) formal operational thinking takes place between the ages of 11 to 15 years. Formal operational thinking is more abstract, idealistic, and logical than concrete operational thinking. Piaget emphasized that adolescents are driven to understand their world because of the actions they carry out biological adjustments. More clearly they relate one idea to another. They not only organize observations and experiences but also adapt their way of thinking to include new ideas because additional information leads to deeper understanding.

According to Piaget (in Santrock, 2003: 110) more real formal operational thinking is more abstract, idealistic and logical. Teenagers think more abstractly than children, for example, can solve abstract algebraic equations. Adolescents are also more idealistic in thinking such as thinking about the ideal characteristics of themselves, others and the world. Adolescents think logically who begin to think like scientists, develop various plans to solve problems and systematically examine ways of solving the thought of.

In cognitive development, adolescents cannot be separated from the social environment. This emphasizes the importance of social and cultural interactions in adolescent cognitive development

3. Social Development

Potter & Perry (2005:535) say that emotional changes during puberty and adolescence are as dramatic as physical changes. This period is a period marked by the start of responsibility and the assimilation of societal appreciation.

Santrock (2003: 24) reveals that in the social transition, adolescents experience changes in individual relationships with other humans, namely in emotions, in personality, and in the role of the social context in development. Denying parents, aggressive attacks on peers, the development of assertiveness, adolescent happiness in certain events and gender roles in society reflect the role of socio-emotional processes in adolescent development. John Flavell (in Santrock, 2003: 125) also mentions that the ability of adolescents to monitor their social cognition effectively is an important indicator of their maturity and social competence.

The search for self-identity is a major task in the psychosocial development of adelesen. Teenagers now form close peer relationships or remain socially isolated (Potter & Perry, 2005:693). This search for self-identity includes sexual identity, group identity, family identity, work identity, health identity and moral identity.



Characteristics of Adolescents


1. Peer Relations

According to Santrock (2003: 219) peers (peers) are children or adolescents with the same age or maturity level. Jean Piaget and Harry Stack Sullivan (in Santrock, 2003: 220) suggest that children and adolescents begin to learn about patterns of reciprocal and equal relationships through interaction with peers. They also learn to carefully observe the interests and views of their peers in order to facilitate the process of integrating themselves into ongoing peer activities. Sullivan believes that friends play an important role in shaping the well-being and development of children and adolescents. Regarding well-being, he stated that all people have a number of basic social needs, including the need for affection (safe bonds), pleasant friends, acceptance by the social environment, intimacy, and sexual relations.

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During adolescence, a person gains greater freedom and begins to establish his or her own identity. Emotionally, they have a closer relationship with their group than with their family. This identity crisis makes adolescents experience shame, fear, and anxiety that cause functional disturbances at home and at school (Potter & Perry, 2010). However, in some cases, adolescents experience tension due to both group pressure and psychosocial changes. So that teenagers tend to take actions that can reduce the tension, such as smoking and taking drugs.

There are several appropriate strategies for making friends according to Santrock (2003: 206), namely:

a) Creating good social interactions from asking the name, age, and favorite activities.

b) Be pleasant, kind and attentive.

c) Prosocial behavior such as being honest, generous and willing to cooperate.

d) Respect yourself and others.

e) Providing social support such as giving help, advice, sitting close together, being in the same group and strengthening each other by giving praise.

There are several effects when there is rejection of peers. According to Hurlock (2000: 307) the negative impacts of the rejection are:

a) Will feel lonely because their social needs are not met.

b) Children feel unhappy and insecure.

c) The child develops an unpleasant self-concept, which can lead to personality deviations.

d) Lack of learning experience needed to undergo the socialization process.

e) Will feel very sad because they do not get the joy that their peers have.

f) Often tries to force themselves into the group and this will increase the group's resistance to them further reducing their opportunities to learn various social skills.

g) Will live in uncertainty about social reactions to them, and this will cause them to be anxious, afraid, and very sensitive.

h) Often make adjustments excessively, in the hope that it will increase their social acceptance.

Meanwhile, Hurlock (2000: 298) states that there are several benefits if a child can be received well. These benefits are:

a) Feel happy and safe.

b) Developing a self-concept is pleasant because other people recognize them.

c) Have the opportunity to learn various socially accepted behavior patterns and social skills that help them sustainably in social situations.

d) Mentally free to turn their attention away and to take an interest in people or things outside of themselves.

e) Adapting to group expectations and not flouting social traditions.

2. Relationship with Parents Full of Conflict

Relationships with parents are full of conflict when entering early adolescence. This increase can be caused by several factors, namely the biological changes of puberty, cognitive changes which include an increase in idealism and logical reasoning, social changes that focus on independence and identity, changes in parental wisdom, and expectations that are violated by parents and adolescents.

Collins (in Santrock, 2002: 42) concludes that many parents see their teenager changing from a child who has always been someone who does not want to obey, fight, and challenge parents' standards. When this happens, parents tend to try hard to control and put more pressure on teens to adhere to parental standards.

From this description, it is better if we can reduce conflicts that occur with parents and adolescents. Here are some strategies given by Santrock, (2002: 24), namely: 1) establishing basic rules for conflict resolution. 2) Try to reach a mutual understanding. 3) Trying to do brainstorming. 4) Try to agree on one or more solutions to the problem. 5) Write a deal. 6) Set a time for a follow-up to see the progress that has been made.

3. Curiosity about sex is high

Sexuality changes in line with individuals who continue to grow and develop (Potter & Perry, 2010:30). Each stage of development brings about changes in sexual function and role in the relationship. Adolescence is a period in which individuals explore their primary sexual orientation more than any other period of human development.

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Adolescents face many decisions and need accurate information on topics such as body changes, sexual activity, emotional responses to sexual intercourse, STDs, contraception, and pregnancy (Perry & Potter, 2010:31). This factual information can come from home, school, books or even peers. Even this kind of information, teenagers may not integrate this knowledge into their lifestyle. They have a present orientation and a sense of invulnerability. These characteristics can lead them to believe that pregnancy or illness will not happen to them, and therefore precautions are not necessary. Health education should be given in the context of this development (Potter & Perry, 2005:535).

4. Easy to stress

According to Potter & Perry (2005:476), Selye (1976) argues that stress is any situation where non-specific demands require an individual to respond or take action.

Stress can cause negative feelings. Generally, a person can adapt to long-term or short-term stress until the stress passes. However, if the adaptation fails, stress can trigger various diseases.

Adolescents are also very susceptible to stress. Because, at this time a person will have desires and very many activities. However, if the desires and activities do not work or are not realized as they should, adolescents tend to make this a burden on their minds. So that teenagers easily experience stress. To treat it, teenagers entertain themselves or minimize their stress by gathering or having fun with their peers.

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