This is the key assignment for Human Behavior (Adolescent development) and Social Environment course. It is designed to be a culminating experience, giving the student an opportunity to apply their knowledge base in a hand-on learning experience. This assignment focus on human behavior during adolescence.
1- Design a 10-15 questions interview, which you will administer to adolescent. The subject of your interview should be someone whom you know only casually in the U.S.A. Do not choose a close friend or a family member for your subject, lest you compromise the objectivity in analyzing the data.
2- Your interview questions should utilize the multidimensional approach to assessment of human behavior.
3- Based on the data ( your subject’s answer to the interview ), address the following issues:
a- What developmental tasks does this individual face?
b- How does the individual’s social environment impact on his developmental process? Does it promote or hinder development? Explain
c- How can intervention from the field of social work help to promote positive development in this individual?
Every adolescent faces developmental issues as they strive to create stable identities in efforts to set a pace for becoming productive adults. Their role in the society only comes up after a process of self-searching in the community, where they end up making discoveries of themselves (WHO, 2014). Adolescents go through a biological process in puberty where they experience changes that cause new awareness of themselves as well as reactions of other people to them. For instance, it would be very easy for adolescent to seem adults to many people because they develop the characteristics of adults in their stage. However, this does not mean that adolescents are adults. They have yet fully mentally developed as adults, and therefore, they still need more room and space for more exploration of the world and themselves in order to ascertain whether they are adults. An interview with John helped me understand various aspects of adolescence and how he strives to achieve his developmental tasks, as well as, how the social environment affects his developmental process. This report analyzes the assessment of John’s behavior through using a multidimensional approach to ascertain the developmental tasks that he faces.
For an adolescent to create an identity in the society, he or she has to face the developmental tasks available in the society. A developmental task depicts the definition of one’s culture of having a normal development at different stages of life. These developmental tasks are as discussed below:
Adolescents need to achieve more mature relations with other people of their age groups, despite the gender (McNeely, 2009). Generally, adolescents identify each other depending on the peer groups they belong. A peer group will be composed of people who share the same level of thought and maturity. Therefore, for an adolescent to determine their suitable peer group. They go through an experimentation of interacting with other adolescents in adult ways. In this way, they naturally drop the unnecessary groups and find themselves comfortable in groups that they share common interests (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013).
One of the most considered aspects in peer relations is physical maturity. This also explains why adolescents belong to different peer groups. The main reason is that they mature at different rates, and therefore, one will shift from one peer group to another depending on the rate of their maturity growth rate. For instance, when girls who experience fast maturity join a peer group with similar physical maturity rates, there is a high possibility of early sexual activity involvement among the girls (McNeely, 2009). For this reason, it is essential for parents to be vigilant at this stage, and help the adolescents enter into constructive peer groups, and shun destructive ones.
It is the role of a parent to monitor the movements of their sons and daughters in order to set a boundary that limits the outside activities of the adolescents. From the interview, John has already established his peer group. He says that the group has been accepted by the parents of each group member. They usually meet during weekends when they are not busy with schools. They organize constructive trips and help each other with homework. He says he likes the group because through the experiences that they share, he is able to achieve his goals and feel more accepted in the society. He is also able to acknowledge the different backgrounds that people come from, and how to integrate each person’s weakness in order to have positive and more mature relations.
Another developmental task that adolescents want to achieve at their stage is the feminine or masculine social role. John describes this stage as the most tempting stage where boys are intimidated by girls in the performance of their roles. At home, John says that he is expected to take care of his younger sister because he is now a man. At this stage, every adolescent has his or her definition of the female and male identity. Generally, most of the adolescents are submissive to the cultural expectations of the sex roles. This means that they follow what the culture provides for the roles of a man and a woman in the society. John also notes that he has been bolder nowadays and faces challenges as they are. He also acknowledges his parents’ role of trying to make him more expressive. However, he is a reserved person who prefers to keep silent over an issue and solve it on his own. He fears being intimidated by his peers, and therefore, does not share most of his problems with other people around him, until he is assured that he is safe enough.
Men are known to be strong and assertive while women in the society are known to possess weak and passive features. The adolescents automatically fit in these roles where a boy becomes more aggressive and controller of situations, while a girl becomes softer, and lets a man control her. However, these roles have increasingly been changing for the last two decades. Women are beginning to adopt an assertive characteristic owing to the high sensitivity of recognition of the role of women in the society (WHO, 2014). Therefore, it is the role of adults to ensure that the adolescents have opportunities of testing their sex social roles. In this way, they will be able to control their emotions and feelings in these situations. For instance, a parent should be able to encourage their daughters to assert themselves more courageously than they have done in the past while sons should be encouraged to express their feelings more. Such opportunities would include leadership roles (McNeely, 2009).
Another developmental task is the acceptance of one’s physique. During the beginning of puberty, an adolescent faces tremendous changes in his or her body. The adolescents only accept their body physique and appearance if they are close to what the society has already stereotyped as a good body. It is the role of adults to help adolescents who are far from reaching the stereotyped shape of a perfect body in men and women. This is the only way that they can accept themselves, and improve how they feel regarding their self-worth and comfort (Hetherington, Reiss & Plomin, 2013).
The society, which has placed the standards of having a perfect body should play a role in assuring that even those who are far from achieving a certain physique are also perfect. For example, a plus-size girl can only feel comfortable with the size of her body if she is encouraged and made to feel beautiful. However, if she is discouraged and jeered, she may develop negative attitudes towards herself, and as a result fail to accept her physique, which should be understood as not her fault (Brooks-Gunn, et. Al, 1993).
On being asked on whether John is proud of his physique, he reluctantly agrees. When asked what his ideal body physique would look like, he says that he would like to have a broad chest with a deeper voice than he has right now. He says that those men who have such physique in his neighborhood are more attractive when compared to people with smaller sizes. He also highlights of instances of people with larger bodies than usual. He talks of Marylyn, his neighbor, who has a large size body. Because of being ridiculed by her friends, Marylyn spends most of her time indoors watching movies and interacting only with close friends and relatives. John says that Marylyn has developed low self-esteem because of her body simply because she does not have anyone to encourage her that her physique is also perfect, including her own parents who are mostly out on business trips. He visits the gym twice a week in an effort to achieve a more muscular body that will help him increase his level of acceptance of his appearance.
Adolescents need to achieve emotional independence as a developmental task. Adolescents should try to achieve emotional independence from adults, more especially, their parents. John seems to be under the custody of strict parents. His parents are religious and believe that their son should not engage in some of the activities that adolescents consider to be fun. He has a strong religious background, and therefore, most of his decisions are based on a pious perspective. However, he feels that he needs to try out some things before he crosses this stage of striving for self-reliance.
His parents always read the Bible and remind him that he should be obedient to his parents and other older people. As a result, he feels that his parents do not understand his needs, yet he is not ready to discuss with them. His argument is that they must also have gone through a similar stage, and therefore, they ought to understand him better. This leads to a series of conflicts with his parents as he feels that they are not doing enough in making him feel as an adult, as far as achieving emotional independence is concerned.
Emotional independence can only be achieved when parents support their children and understand their needs. They should be more flexible to changing the existing rules in the family so that the adolescents feel more self-reliant. Parents should ensure that the adolescent achieve the sense of freedom in a positive way (Pressley & McCormick, 2006). This is the only way that adolescents can express their personal strength. For example, it is obvious that most parents have placed some curfew time against their children. As the children develop through their adolescent stage, it is in order for the parents to increase the time for the children so that they feel the new sense of self-reliance, and the need for achieving responsibility (McNeely, 2009).
Another developmental task that adolescents should be exposed to is the preparation of family and marriage life. John is currently dating. When asked if the girl he would marry the girl he is currently dating, he keeps quiet and thinks over it. This is a common reaction among adolescents because they tend to confuse between sexual feelings and sincere intimacy. Most of their relationships are based on convenience where they may not last when faced by serious cases of intimidation.
Their choice of partners in most cases is based on the appearance of the partners. John argues that it is too early to think about family and marriage life. His main reason for dating is that he does not want to be seen without a girlfriend since most of his peer friends have theirs too. He acknowledges that he is involved in a series of arguments with his girlfriend over his priorities. He still believes that he should focus more time on his friends and hobbies than his relationship. On the other hand, his girlfriend demands more time with him so that they can share more on life experiences.
This developmental task focuses on sexual maturity as the core aspect of consideration. It is difficult to achieve this developmental task for the adolescents since they cannot easily differentiate between candid intimacy and sexual feelings (Pressley & McCormick, 2006). Therefore, they may not make independent decisions on their identity and preparation of the family life. This task can only be achieved during early adulthood or late adolescence when the effects of sexual maturity have fully grown, and a person is able to distinguish between sexual and genuine feelings (Leventhal & Brooks-Gunn, 2000).
Adolescents also need to develop an economic and professional career in order to set the journey of self-dependence (WHO, 2014). Presently, John has yet reached this level of economic status. Most of his needs are catered by his parents as he is still in school. He expresses his need for having a stable life where he does not depend on his parents. He feels that his parents are too controlling, and this makes him more submissive to their demands. He argues that he may not have his way of opinion since he knows he will approach them for his needs. For this reason, failure to achieve an economic status makes him not to feel fully a man. For example, John finds it hard to ask for money from his parents to buy his girlfriend a gift. Since he feels that he has to buy one, he asks money for other necessary activities, and shifts it to buying the gift for his girlfriend.
The society today demands that an adolescent can only cross to the adult stage if he or she becomes financially stable. While in the past decades this task was easier, it has increasingly become difficult due to the increased demand for skills and education in the current job market (McCarthy, 2000). This means that parents should take the lead role of helping their children develop these skills through educating them, and helping them to become financially stable. It has been difficult for adolescents to achieve this developmental task before completing school since they are still striving to achieve some experience and skills of entry level (Eccles, et al. 1993).
Impact of social environment
John’s environment promotes his developmental process in a great deal. His parents have made him go through a spiritual life that makes him able to reach rational decisions on what is right and wrong. Therefore, he is able to restrain from engaging in activities that are likely to cause him harm. For example, he is able to choose between genuine friends and friends who want to indulge him into risky behaviors such as drug abuse and irresponsible sexual activities. As a result, John has gained more positive impacts on his social development. He is seen as a disciplined and moral boy who everyone would love to be associated with. However, he feels that he needs more freedom than his parents provide. As a result of the beneficial social environment that John is exposed to by his parents and friends, he is able to achieve higher adolescent development.
John has achieved higher self-esteem because of the positive impact by his social environment. His parents and friends make him develop a positive image of himself, where he can appreciate his role in the society. His parents ensure the esteem is built through offering words of encouragement regularly, listening to him in case of a problem, always appreciating his efforts whenever he achieves something, and correcting him nicely whenever he commits mistakes. Such efforts help in building self-esteem in John, and therefore, this builds his maturity rate. His friends also build his self-esteem by appreciating his strengths, and not judging him by his weaknesses, as well as, seeking help from him whenever they need some peer advice on their experiences.
The social environment that John is exposed to helps him avoid peer pressure. As John strives to create relations with his peer friends, he is able to positively choose friends. He is not interested in friends who will influence his lives negatively. As a result, he is able to achieve his goals because no one forces him to do things that he is not supposed to do. He is able to achieve this through engaging in honest communication with his peers and friends. Whenever he is oblivious of the effect of an action he intends to take, he consults people he trusts most. This makes him stronger and feels responsible for his actions. It has also made him the epitome of other adolescents who wish to deal with the stage as he does in order to achieve success.
Intervention from social work is helpful to promote positive development in John. Social workers are trained people who can help a person answer the deepest questions that they are not able to ask even their parents. For example, the topic of sexuality is still a bother to John. He gets different views over the same, and his parents usually shy off from the topic. An intervention from a professional social worker would help significantly in ensuring that John develops the right mentality towards sexuality in the future (Bjorklund, 2012).
Conclusively, adolescent development is one of the critical aspects of human life that should be considered seriously. Although people do not invest much time in considering the challenges that adolescents go through, this stage can be extremely tricky for people who lose focus and attention towards the right direction of life. It is the role of the adults to determine the needs of the adolescents and offer them with opportunities that will orchestrate their growth to adults. At this stage, most of the adolescents wish to be adults, and therefore, they prefer being treated as adults. For this reason, if adults treat them as adults, the adolescents tend to achieve more mature relations at a faster rate than when the adults perceive the adolescents to be at a young age group still.
Bjorklund, D. F. (2012). Child & adolescent development: An integrated approach. BELMONT: WADSWORTH.
Brooks-Gunn, J., Duncan, G. J., Klebanov, P. K., & Sealand, N. (1993). Do neighborhoods influence child and adolescent development?. American journal of sociology, 353-395.
Eccles, J. S., Midgley, C., Wigfield, A., Buchanan, C. M., Reuman, D., Flanagan, C., & Mac Iver, D. (1993). Development during adolescence: the impact of stage-environment fit on young adolescents’ experiences in schools and in families. American psychologist, 48(2), 90.
Hetherington, E. M., Reiss, D., & Plomin, R. (Eds.). (2013). Separate social worlds of siblings: The impact of nonshared environment on development. Routledge.
Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: the effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychological bulletin, 126(2), 309.
McCarthy, J. B. (2000). Adolescent development and psychopathology. Lanham, Md: University Press of America.
McNeely, C. (2009). The teen years explained: A guide to healthy adolescent development. Baltimore, MD: Center for Adolescent Health, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Pressley, M., & McCormick, C. (2006). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York: Guilford Press.
Shaffer, D., & Kipp, K. (2013). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence. Cengage Learning.
WHO. (2014). Adolescent development. WHO. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/adolescence/dev/en/