Adolescents are attempting to find their own identity, struggling with social interactions, and wrestling with moral issues. The primary task of an adolescent is to discover their identity separate from their family and as a member of their community.
Physically, middle adolescents are finished with puberty. Physical growth is slowing down for females but continues for males.
As middle adolescents’ capacity for abstract thought continues to grow, they have greater capacity for setting goals and more interest in moral reasoning. You might notice your adolescent pondering the meaning of life during this stage, as well as demonstrating more consistent evidence of a conscience. Middle adolescents are attempting to establish their philosophy of life and often prefer to think about ideals rather than reality.
Middle adolescents are intensely involved with themselves. They are working to balance having high expectations for themselves and a poor self-concept. They continue to adjust to their changing body and often worry about being normal. Adolescents in this stage are concerned about their attractiveness and may have frequently changing relationships. They will also gain a more clearly defined sexual orientation. During this stage, adolescents tend to distance themselves from their parents and continue to drive toward independence. Complaints that parents are interfering with independence are abundant. They are often driven to make friends and have a greater reliance on them. During this stage, popularity can be an important issue. Middle adolescence can be full of feelings of love and passion. Intellectual interests gain importance during this time as energy becomes directed into creative and career interests.
Often, adolescents go through a period of withdrawing from responsibilities while they are sorting out their identity. Even the most compliant children might develop into adolescents who complain or grumble about chores or rules. If adolescence isn’t successfully navigated, they experience role confusion and turmoil. As adolescents attempt to gain independence, they can pull their parents or other adults into power struggles where the need to “be right” becomes the main issue. If the adolescent is overpowered, they might feel embarrassed, inadequate, resentful, and bitter. Anxiety can emerge regarding school and academic performance.
Common reasons for seeking treatment:
- Significant decline in school performance
- Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
- Significant changes in sleeping and or eating habits
- Extreme difficulties concentrating
- Sexual acting out
- Depression shown by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitude, often accompanied by poor appetite, difficulty sleeping, thoughts of death
- Severe mood swings
- Repeated use of alcohol and/or drugs
- Intense fear of becoming obese with the relationship to actual body weight, excessive dieting, throwing up, or using laxatives to lose weight
- Persistent nightmares