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I have two beautiful children who outline different stages of adolescence. My son is 30 years old, my daughter is only 12. In spite of the age difference, I cannot really say that their intellectual development differs so much. My son started playing basketball and football in quite an early age, and then decided to go into the Marine Corp. At the beginning of his education in school, he had to straggle a lot to succeed. He managed to do so at the age of eleven when his scores went to an honor roll.

My daughter was always showing an outstanding longing for personal development. She was an A pupil in school with rare B who had never experienced any serious problems with her education. On the other hand, she seemed to absorb new information with unusual for her age swiftness and curiosity. When she was four years old, she started playing piano. Two years ago she asked me to enroll her into the violin classes, revealing there a remarkable talent for the instrument. My daughter possesses a strong desire for perfection: She still plays both musical instruments with a great deal of enthusiasm and affection. At the age of four, she started cheerleading, and still finds this occupation quite interesting. When she was five years old, she went into soccer and continues to play it till nowadays.

Reflections:

If to compare my children’s early successes in life, my daughter seems to be a lot ahead of my son. I do not want to say that my son has problems with development. On the contrary, he reveals a great potential and makes corresponding steps to achieve everything he desires.

My daughter is just starting to enter this period. Frankly saying, I am sure it will pass for her with no problems, as she is a very well-organized girl who can tell me everything as I am trying hard to be a supportive friend for her. The friendship of my little girl is extremely important for me, and I know that it is helpful for her as she learns how to trust people and have good relationships with men. I am happy and proud to be her role-model for an ideal man by now. Therefore, the possible difficulties of the puberty period, which is considered to be one most complicated stages of people’s growing-up, are not the one which make me worry about, but time will show.

Generalizations, Principles, & Theories:

Generally, I noticed that this period is marked by an excessive amount of depressed states, emotional vulnerability and breakdowns. The more understanding the parents are, the easier it will be for their kids to go through these stages. My personal experience shows that the majority of problems with the emotional instability of boys and girls can be easily avoided if parents try to put themselves into their children’s shoes and walk in them. If a father and a mother make an effort to recognize their children’s needs for support and special attention, offspring will feel safe to share all their worries, fears, and possibly made mistakes with their understanding, caring, and kind-hearted parents. 

The hardships of adolescence, as I read from the literature, mostly occur due to the alteration of hormones (their production in large amounts) and quick physical growth. Furthermore, children find it specifically difficult that they have to leave behind the old roles and take over the new ones. On the one hand, they are still too childish, however, they already have a desire or frequently a need to behave according to the adults’ rules and ways. The puberty period is greatly influenced by the heredity as well as environmental factors (especially diet or exercise).

Testing and Application:

I remember how my son was thinking that he caught a cold when his throat got so harsh and he uneven – he could not speak properly for a while and was even shy to do so as his peers started laughing at him in school when he was answering near the blackboard, and his voice disappeared for a couple of seconds. I understood how much my support he needed, and, moreover, the proper knowledge what was going on with him. I see it vital to not be afraid to talk with your kids about all nuances of the possible changes in their bodies that may cause them any worries and inconveniences during this time.

Cognitive Development Differences and Similarities to Previous and Succeeding Stages

Description of Concrete Experience:

I observed how greatly the thoughts of mine as well as my son’s during this period influenced our future decisions. The ideas and beliefs of that time shaped my personality and character a lot. Many of the things I learnt were erroneous, but to correct is always better than to never recognize your mistakes. I cannot say that my personality did not change over time, as going up the career ladder (I started as a consultant, human resources professional, and reached the position of the Director at “Goodwill Industries Big Bend” in 2009) made me overthink many of the concepts which I believed. However, the main ideas that came up in my mind during adolescence still lead me through life.

Reflections:

Adolescence is marked by rapid cognitive development, too. I would agree to the many scientists who define this period as the stage of life when the thoughts of the young person start obtaining more abstract form. During this period, the individual loses a great deal of its egocentric disposition. In my opinion, this process cannot be called completely positive as many people refer to it. First of all, the individual becomes more preoccupied with the things which are as important as others. For example, I noticed that boys and girls care much more about the looks, but less about the inner sides; they try hard to impress others, when all they have to do is care about personal development. The loss of selfishness leads to the thoughts on personal inferiority and frequently harmful ways to prove the opposite. On the other hand, children learn to care about others, to share their possessions and knowledge, to be helpful.

Generalizations, Principles, &Theories:

I consider the most important lesson of the cognitive development to be the ability to look at everything from the wider perspective. I think that 15-year-old boys’ and girls’ thinking abilities can be greatly compared to those of adults. I find the improvement of long-term and working memory, attention, and fast thinking significant for the development of the people’s potential. I recognize the potential of abstract thinking for adolescents, as in such a way I can plan ahead, think about the future and those things which are not bound to the current situations. During my adolescence period I developed the skill of deductive reasoning which helped me greatly in leading debates which my Human Resources positions required, seeing the possible consequences of my actions, envisioning the possible answers of my clients, and providing different from obvious explanations to the issues and events.

Testing and Application:

I remember an interesting situation when my son was talking to his uncle who used irony. My son, still a child, could not see the joke in the words and accepted uncle’s words for truth. When he came home, he looked preoccupied and told me that the uncle must be very ill because he was talking scary things. I did my best to explain the boy that the uncle was simply joking and there was no need to worry about. My daughter, despite her early maturity, cannot accept sarcasm accepting it for the strong offence of her own feelings. The cognitive development makes it easy for children to contemplate and understand politics, religion, philosophy, morality, faith, fairness, democracy, friendship, and honesty; be more self-conscious, wise, and reasonable.

Socio-Emotional Development. Peer Relationship Issues and Changes

Description of the Concrete Experience:

I would like to start with the story that happened several years ago. One neighbor from Albany, where I lived with the family for a while, forbade her fifteen-year-old daughter to wear G-strings considering them to be inappropriate clothes for young ladies, and telling to her poor daughter that everyone who wears G-string is a complete slut. The girl had her own opinion as she felt ashamed all the time to undress in the girls’ changing room in school because of her old-fashioned panties. Such lack of understanding on the mother’s half led to a situation that the girl started to borrow proper for her panties from friends or make savings from money given on food to buy G-strings. When the mother figured it out, they quarreled a lot. The daughter fell into depression, her results in school went down, she refused to it and any friendly relationship with mother was ruined. One G-string and so many problems – a little bit more understanding on mother’s behalf and a row of problems could have been omitted.

Reflections:

Thus, I understand how important it is to work on the socio-emotional development that strengthens sense of identity among adolescents. When I started as an assistant to HR Director at “Metro Regional Government” in 1994, my egocentrism developed with unusual swiftness, making me want to become a very important person among my peers. I craved to be like other social group members where I belonged. However, this apparent desire for uniformity was not deprived of the wish to be special, the leader of the group. In my times, it was fashionable to have tattoos while in school and if you had it, you would be granted certain privileges which mostly were reflected through increased attention from girls and respect from boys.

Generalizations, Principles, & Theories:

I was more aware of my own self, therefore, my self-esteem was greatly affected by other people’s acceptance or rejection. Correspondingly, the higher self-esteem the adolescent possesses, the smaller is the possibility of being depressed. It was always my responsible job to keep up the self-esteem of my growing children high because they get enough of the humiliation from their peers who try to show off their own ‘coolness’ by means of others.

Testing and Application:

Appearance becomes a number-one issue for many parents and their growing children who try to express their sense of identity through it. I was not spared this pain, too. I do not see it as unacceptable that my young daughter starts putting on make-up or wear too open dresses as many other parents seemed to do, or when my son disheveled his hair on purpose and cut his jeans to blend with the social group he belonged to. However, the more understanding to these changes I am, the easier it is for my children to trust me, to come for a piece of advice, and be sure that they always have a strong shoulder of support in my face.

Familial, Cultural, Cross-Cultural, Religious Impact on Development

Description of the Concrete Experience:

The first thing I want to stress is that religion cannot be considered a part of the daily life of adolescents, however, they still have the set of the beliefs which is mostly influenced by their parents. My kids have never questioned those beliefs which we have in our family, though I am sure that they may have their own perception of the spiritual side of the world, but it is totally up to them to decide who they want to worship, if anyone at all. I do not start questioning them about their preferences, as I am sure they will not like it. In case they are interested to figure out some religious issue that caught their attention and they think that I may shed some light onto it, they are free to come and ask, and no matter what question that would be, I will not start asking them why they asked it or from where they got such piece of knowledge. Spiritual side in our family has always been up to its members.

Reflections:

I realized that adolescence ‘came’ when my child wanted to assert her new role in the society. If I did not recognize it, and continued treating my daughter’s as a kid, the problems would come into our family life. The adolescents start demonstrating their influence on the importance of their opinion in the family decision-making process, they demand from their parents to treat them as equals. The bond between the parents and children seems to be getting weaker. I cannot say that it is observed in all families as a lot depends on the upbringing, however, the tendency does exist. My children consider me their good friend, thus, I think I managed to avoid this issue.

Generalizations, Principles, & Theories:

Being a teenager, I wanted everything to be in my own way: Beginning with outfit, and ending with right for own privacy which became quite painful for my parents. When my own son started locking himself in the room and shout at me when I allowed myself to enter without knocking or asking permission, I understood that my little boy is not little anymore, no matter how difficult it was for me to accept. Language, food choices, media, outfit, hobbies and recreation all make up the youth culture. Teenagers usually reject the traditional ways, and try to come up with the own according to the social groups in which they spend the majority of their time. I just needed to accept it, and be patient a little while.

Testing and Application:

The freedom seems to be crucial in forming the personality of my growing young adults. Despite such desire to go their own ways, they often share values and attitudes of me. Therefore, the most important for parents with adolescent children to remember, I guess, is that the closer and friendlier relationship they have with their teenagers, the possibility of engagement into drugs, alcohol consumption, fights, smoking, and unprotected sexual relationship is at minimum. Parents who care about educating their children in the most ‘up-to-date’ way about these issues will experience less, if no problems at all, problems with their children during this complicated period.

Age-Appropriate Behaviors and Deviant or Delinquent Behaviors. Strategies to Help Adolescents

Description of the Concrete Experience:

As I already partially tackled the problem, adolescents are inclined towards asserting their own opinions, demanding personal space and craving freedom in everything. If I could not understand why my child started to reveal some aggressive behaviors, the conflict would arise. My kids might start doing exactly those things which are strictly forbidden in the family.

Reflections:

 My son used to smoke for a couple of months after I absent-mindedly told him (after reading some newspaper article) that I despise kids who run around with the bottle of beer and a cigarette between their teeth, and that they should better go and read a book about manners. He did not say anything, just looked strangely at me. About four months after, I found a pack of cigarettes in the pocket of his bag. It made me furious. I went to him, and he simply told me that he was not that guy who could be told what to do all the time, and if someone pushed him to do something, he would do, but opposite, because he was grown-up and had his own head to percept the world.

Generalizations, Principles, & Theories:

I went through this complicated period with my own whims and needs, so I recognize that I have to let my children (now mostly my daughter, as my son is already grown up enough) to make their own mistakes in order to learn those lessons which will help them in life, as I once did, too. Of course, if I see an overtly erroneous behavior, I am not going to stand aside and wait for the end – a good, friendly talk can always help to direct my kids.

Testing and Application:

At that time of my son’s smoking problems, I got the point. I told him to smoke as much as he wished, but please did not forget about consequences and harmful effects on his body. I did not shout, did not tell him how disappointed I was, I tried my best to be understanding and supportive, to be his friend. In less than month he quitted smoking and did not touch the cigarette anymore. The more support and unobtrusive understanding the parents reveal, the less their children will go to extremes to fit their social roles.

The Impact of Contemporary Society; Media, World Events, Economy on Youth Development

Description of the Concrete Experience:

At this decision-making stage of the adolescents’ lives, I recognize that my children are more than susceptible to doing drugs, peer pressure, sexual abuse, and other illegal actions. The cause for it all is obvious: The easy-accessible technological products which advertise the harmful products are everywhere: Junk food, ‘cool’ guys with guns who smoke expensive cigarettes effectively on the screen, easy sex in cheap movies together with an unforgettable ecstasy promised by the drug dealers have their impact.

Reflections:

I see how world events and media only add up to the problem. We get news on new international conflicts, traffic accidents, plane crashes, thefts, illegal activities, and so on and so forth. Violence seems to be everywhere. Radios, TVs, and Internet seem to live only on bad news which influence the population, and especially the susceptible minds of growing children, greatly. I remember reading about one radio company which transmitted only good news – they went bankrupt quite fast as no one wants to listen to good news – people are got used to the negativity everywhere.

Generalizations, Principles, & Theories:

I cannot always protect my children as I do not accompany them everywhere they go. However, I can teach them how to screen the information which they obtain each minute from the surrounding world. At my responsible position of the Director, I found it crucial to develop an effective critical thinking in order to make proper decisions which will facilitate my company’s growth. To learn and teach seems to me the road to success.

Testing and Application:

Nowadays, we have some organizations which try to assist the youth in this transitional period of their life. For example, I find extremely interesting the activities of the Developmental Intervention Science which tries to both meet the needs of the community and help psychologically depressed adolescents, especially focusing on inappropriate and risky behaviors, at the same time promoting self-esteem and positive development among young adults. The problem exists, and the most important part in solving it play we, parents of our children, who can help our growing kids by leading them through this stage as true friends would do.

Changes in the World Stereotypes
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