Personality and Social Development in Teens

The time of growth and development that occurs between the ages of 10 and 18 is known as adolescence. It is the time when children begin to transition to adulthood through physical, social and psychological growth. Individual personality is also developed as a product of normal development. Personality is continually developing from early childhood through adolescence, but during adolescence things tend to shift a bit. Personality is the characteristics that make us different from everyone else on the planet. It’s our thoughts and emotions that influence what we do and what we say. Our personality influences what we expect from ourselves and others, our beliefs, and our personal values.

While many psychologists differ on theories of what influences the development of an individual’s personality, heredity and environment are the most influential factors. Heredity influences basic personality traits like emotion and temperament. Environment is the contributor to beliefs, expectations and values through socialization.

Capabilities that you inherit, such as physical abilities and intelligence, affect the social environment for adolescents. These inherited capabilities impact the idea of self-worth and self-esteem. How an adolescent views himself affects how others will view him. Feelings of physical or mental inadequacy generally lead to a label of such by others. Adolescents tend to conform-to act and behave in a socially acceptable manner to be accepted. In contrast, those that don’t conform will be deviant, desiring to show just how different their personality really is from the “normal.” In both cases, personality development is affected.

Although environmental influences vary by culture and location, personality development is influenced, even during childhood, through child rearing practices. Socialization differs between genders; boys and girls have a different set of rules to go by regarding what behaviors are appropriate. Additionally, the behavior of parents affects both the personality and social development of their offspring. Younger children often mimic or emulate parents, but during adolescence an individual begins to step away from parental influence and more toward peer influence in a desire to be different.

Peer groups play a large role in the social development of adolescents. Self-concept, socialization, and social interaction are learned through peer reactions. Because of these aspects, adolescence is a time of readjustment-learning one’s personal limitations and abilities as well as rethinking life matters that were previously learned.

Behavioral psychologists have theorized that adolescence is a time of inner conflict. It is a time when identities and role conflicts become evident. Earlier conflicts in life, like developing trust and self-belief, determine the final outcome in an adolescent’s ability to find an identity. A failure to overcome earlier conflicts leads to role confusion and an inability to make proper decisions regarding careers, sexual orientation, and friendships.

Adolescence is often the period when social problems, especially in behavior, tend to appear. Because of the internal struggles and peer group pressures experienced by teenagers, problems with substance abuse, delinquency, eating disorders and depression tend to occur. Each of these problems directly affects the healthy social development of an adolescent.

A lot of these issues that occur are directly related to whether or not the individuals have learned to effectively resolve conflicts that were experienced earlier in life. Children who exhibited social development problems during earlier stages of development are more likely to experience difficulties in adjusting to the period of adolescence. While this is not set in stone, many studies have linked the healthy development during earlier years to how well an adolescent can handle the stresses that are presented during this time. When you combine the internal struggles that an adolescent goes through with the physical struggles of mood swings, feelings of inadequacy and general awkwardness, it becomes clear to most parents, although aggravating, why it is that adolescents have such a strong desire to set themselves apart from the their parents and other adults and achieve some type of independence.

About Marion Witte

Marion Witte was born and raised on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota. It was there that she acquired her Midwestern work ethic and her philosophy of helping others. Marion enjoyed a successful career as an entrepreneur, and upon selling her various business interests she began pursuing a life of philanthropy. She is passionate and outspoken about the need for radical changes in the way we view children and parenting. Her memoir “Little Madhouse on the Prairie” relays the story of her life, and it is the basis of her commitment to this work. She founded and manages the Angel Heart Foundation and its sister organizations “Next Generation Parenting” and “Brave New Leaders.”

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