Although adolescence can be briefly defined as “the growth phase of the human being between 12-14 and 18-20 years old, characterized by a series of physical and psychological changes that introduce adulthood”, this period of life it is very delicate and involves changes that concern not only the individual, but his entire family and social sphere.
From a psychological point of view, adolescence is a path / process of identity construction which is accomplished by facing and in some way solving specific development tasks. The way each boy will face this period depends on the baggage of emotional and environmental experiences with which he faces change.
The transformations that occur in adolescence involve the social sphere (choice of school, new friends and new companions), one’s body (growth in height, appearance of the beard in boys, the menstrual cycle and breast in girls) and family environment (parents also face a change that can also be a source of stress for them).
Although each teenager is unique and has his or her own personality, tastes and history, there are some aspects that can generally be considered as common to all individuals going through the adolescent phase.
Initially (in the phase between 12 and 14 years, coinciding with the end of middle school) the boy must begin to know his own body which is changing very quickly. Concerns can arise about one’s physical appearance and the need for comparison with peers, which are becoming increasingly important at the expense of parental figures. In this period, in fact, there may be a tendency to give little importance to parents and to diminish their role, challenging the rules.
Between 15 and 16 years there is a more marked interest in one’s own body and greater attraction develops towards the opposite sex, the first relationships and the first sexual experiences are born. The contrast with parents, who may be accused by the adolescent of limiting his search for independence, becomes more pronounced. This period is characterized by a certain ambivalence: friendships grow, but competition with peers is born; self-esteem is fluctuating and oscillates between feeling invincible, projected into a splendid future, and self-evaluation; parents are simultaneously the safe haven and the limitation of their freedom. It is the period of loves, passions and ideals, a period in which everything is lived very intensely and in which the teenager, being still emotionally unable to defend himself, can be deeply wounded by his own strong emotions.
Around 17-18 years of age, their identity is strengthened and interests, friendships, emotions and sexual identity begin to stabilize. Even in the school sphere at this age, decisions are made about one’s future which are faced with greater seriousness than in previous years, as the ability to set and achieve personal goals has increased. Self-esteem depends more on one’s self-image and is less influenced by the judgment of others; increases self-confidence. This allows you to get involved more in personal relationships, to be more flexible and willing to compromise. They also improve the ability to express their ideas and a sense of humor, promoting constructive dialogue.
It therefore appears evident that adolescence in itself is a moment characterized by instability, even in the mood, with periods of apathy (“he is listless”), disinterest, emotional flattening and sadness that are opposed to the thrust and enthusiasm towards some activities with peers, interests and passions (Learn more with the “Symptoms of depression in adolescent” tab).
Furthermore, the cognitive development in this phase is very rapid (the abilities of abstraction and logical reasoning are increased, favoring the possibility of planning one’s own future) while the affective sphere is still immature. It is thanks to cognitive development that the process of emotional growth can be favored, but until this happens the adolescent is in a particularly fragile condition