BY BARRISTER CHRIS DIBA-UTULU
The word Adolescence is from a Latin word ‘adolescere’ which means ‘to grow up’ Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and psychological development that occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood. World Health Organization [WHO] defines an adolescent as any person between ages 10 and 19 years.
Adolescence is the age of change. It is a vulnerable time when children can develop unhealthy habits that grow into problems in their adult life. At Puberty there are a lot of changes that occur to a child. Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. This is as a result of hormones from the brain to the gonads—ovaries in girls and testes in boys.
Adolescence stage is divided into 3 stages:
- Early adolescence [9—13 years]
- Middle adolescence [14—17 years]
- Late adolescence [18—21 years]
A lot of changes happen to adolescents. These include;
- Physical development; at this stage, there is growth changes, the girls develop breast, and menstruate; boys have facial hairs, enlargement of the scrotum and testes. The adolescent are full of energy.
- Intellectual development. At this stage, there is increase in their rate of understanding and reasoning. They are very curious and eager to learn new ideas both good and bad.
- Emotional and social development. There are swings in emotions of the adolescents. They tend to attach themselves more to their peers more than their parents. They are moody and can easily be distracted.
It is because of growth spurt in adolescents that the following characteristics occur.
- Clothes get smaller.
- Shoes no longer fit.
- Increase in appetite.
- Voice changes.
- Sleeping for longer hours.
- Skin related problems-pimples on faces.
- Noticeable bigger joints and bones.
- Facial hairs on boys and enlargement of scrotum and testes.
- Development of breast and public hairs in girls.
At the puberty stage the adolescent is striving for identity. If care is not taken he will have identity crisis. Identity crisis is a period of uncertainty and confusion in which an adolescent sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society. At this stage an adolescent seeks a clearer sense of self and an acceptable role in society.
CHALLENGES FACING ADOLESCENTS AND PROSPECTS
The following are challenges facing adolescence. These includes
- Physical change
- Emotional change
- Behavioral change
- Substance use and abuse
- Educational problem
- Health problem
- Psychological and social problems
Solutions to the problems stated above
- Let the adolescence be aware of the physical change
- Explain that it is normal for body to change
- Help the adolescence to adapt to this change
- Acknowledge the change and help them out of it
- Encourage them to stay healthy and fit by eating balance diet and also engage in exercise
- Hormones affect their emotion
- They are confuse about their role
- They are turned between their responsibilities as growing adult and desires as children.
- Reassure them that they are wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of God.
- To solve the problem associated with behavioral changes, parents should do the following
- Let them talk, listen to them without judging and avoid giving them advice when they are not ready to take it.
- Share your experiences of puberty and let them talk to an older sibling.
- Let them engage in creative activity.
- Gain their trust, be their confidants.
- Encourage them to be truthful to themselves and tell them the dangers of using harmful substance.
- Let them know that you love them the way they are. They are uniquely made.
- Exercise caution when you are interviewing whether they are flowing into bad company.
- Keep an eye on them.
- Supervise their school works.
- Check on their work in the school from time to time.
- Never accuse them.
- Treat them with love.
- Tell them that they can make it.
- Never, compare them with other children.
- Cut down their house chores.
- Encourage them to study.
- Do not accuse them.
- Encourage them to be honest.
- Take them to the Doctor or child psychologist, if need arises.
- Support them.
- Let them know that you love them.
- Encourage them to read good books.
Having adolescents in the house is very different from having a five year old. The challenges associated with nurturing an adolescent is over whelming. Parents should be honest and open minded in dealing with their adolescents. They should be available when they need to talk them
Recommended literature books for parents and students.
The gifted hands by Dr. Ben Carson
The big picture by Dr. Ben Carson
Question young people ask by Watch Tower Bible and Tracts society
The three idiots