Focusing on personal development in adolescence is essential. It helps shape kids into the adults they grow up to be. Most parents often fail to focus on this area because adolescence entails change, not only in the life of the kids but in their lives as well as the family dynamic.

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Adolescence begins when biological changes in the body begin. These are formative years for your child, not just in terms of physical growth but also in their mental growth.

Understanding personal development in adolescence will give you more insight into what to expect in this crucial time. Whether you’re a parent or someone going through adolescence, this article can help you learn more about personal development and what challenges to expect.

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What Does Personal Development in Adolescence Include?

One major area where everyone faces confusion is in personality development and personal development. On the surface, they might both appear similar but, there is a marked difference here. It’s important to realize the difference so as to avoid any issues in the future.

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  • Personality development only refers to one area of a person, usually affecting the nature of their interpersonal skills. This helps you become more aware of you and those around you.
  • In contrast, personal development is a blanket term which can relate to personality, mental and cognitive capacity and more. This focuses on helping you become the best version of you.

To further understand what it can include, the following are some of the core areas that personal development in adolescence has:

Focusing on these can allow you to understand personal development and the different factors that are influenced and affected by it. This means that personal development is a lot harder than you would have expected.

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There are so many different facets to consider. Luckily, you don’t have to jump into personal development feet first. You’re supposed to tackle things as they come to you and see the learning opportunities that your life will provide.

Given how life goes, you will have many opportunities to invest in personal development, not only for yourself but for other adolescent people in your lives too.

Personal development is a blanket term that different aspects you need to focus on

An Overview of the Journey of Personal Development in Adolescence

We’ve already taken a brief look at personal development in adolescence but there’s one factor that offers the most challenges. The age of the adolescent person can also make a marked difference here.

When people don’t understand the age factor, it can be difficult for them to correctly help in the personal development of the person. The following is what the journey of personal development in adolescence looks like if you break it down in accordance with the age of the person.

Stage One – Learning to Let Go of Childhood

Early Adolescence – Age 9 to 13 Years Old

At this age, children are just letting go of their childhood and taking their first steps towards becoming their own people. The following are some challenges faced in this time for personal development in adolescence:

  • Disorganization – Forgetfulness, messiness and loss of attention are common. The previous structure for self-management that was used in childhood can no longer be relied upon.
  • Resistance – Passive and Active – Arguing, delayed compliance with rules and even questioning of authority is common. Fulfillment in regular chores can often not be found which is why they’re likely to slack off in this area.
  • Testing the Waters – Small acts of anarchy, breaking the rules and small pranks can become frequent. If left unchecked, these activities can turn problematic with vandalism or shoplifting. This habit should be nipped in the bud.
  • Negativity – There’s going to be a lot of dissatisfaction and lack of contentment. Resentment at being treated like a child will also develop. There will also be boredom, restlessness and a lack of interest in previous childhood activities.

The Solution

You need to introduce activities that allow you to build trust with the adolescent. Start sharing new responsibilities with them. These let them see that you’re not dismissing them or treating them like children. Maintain a firm yet positive attitude and also insist on responsible behavior from them.

Keep flexibility in your approach as the main goal so that you’re able to address these major challenges that your kid is going through. Additionally, be prepared for some pronounced personality changes. Luckily, they’re not something to worry about too seriously.

At a particular age, adolescents become more focused on their friendships than their families

Stage Two – Forming Friends and Groups

Mid Adolescence – Age 13 to 15 Years Old

This is when kids have definitely outgrown their childhood and are more focused on building their relationships with their friends. Their friendships are going to hold extra importance for them, often overlooking the relationship they share with their parents.

Common challenges faced in personal development in adolescence at this age include:

  • Social Freedom – There is more conflict, particularly focused on getting social freedom and time to spend with friends. This can often mean overlooking curfews, not doing household chores or tasks.
  • Deceptive Communication – This means that they’re just learning to lie to their parents. This is not done out of malice but to hide any wrongdoing which they know has consequences. There is self-awareness of wrong actions but also fear of the punishment.
  • Peer Pressure – There is a bigger focus on wanting to fit in and be part of the crowd or friend’s group. It can also lead to taking part in risk taking or adventurous activities. Substance use, because your friends are doing it, can also start at this point.

The Solution

Create open channels of communication so that your child does not feel the need to lie. Reinforce positive behavior with rewards so that your child will understand what is expected of them. Additionally, discuss various aspects of friendships and different dynamics in groups.

Address the topic of peer pressure and how they should use their own moral compass to make the right decision. Regardless of this, also let them know that lies and bad behavior will have serious consequences. It’s a great idea to also explain the repercussions that may follow if they don’t obey laws. They’re old enough to be tried in a court of law as a juvenile.

Stage Three – Being More Grown Up

At this age, personal development in adolescence has progressed to the point where you can see them as people in their own right. All childish habits have almost disappeared but there is still a certain reliance on adults. In this stage, uncertainty, doubt and confusion can also spark because of the way their life is changing.

It’s a very crucial stage in personal development in adolescence. Challenges at this stage include:

Late Adolescence – Age 15 to 18 Years Old

  • More Independence – At this age, your child will have a learner’s permit for their car license and can have their own car. They’re also more likely to have a part-time job, have social gatherings with substance use and indulge in more grown up behavior.
  • Deeper Emotional Attachment – Relationships for them have started to evolve from mere friendships to deeper ones. Romantic association is also more pronounced with an interest in exploring their sexuality.
  • Separation Anxiety – Graduation can introduce separation anxiety from their friends, especially when leaving for different colleges. Moving out, starting college or university and other challenges can also cause general anxiety.

The Solution

Try to offer your support as much as possible but also realize that you cannot guide your child by holding their hand all the time. Enforce open communication and also pay attention to their moods, thoughts, feelings and more.

Help them indulge in activities and hobbies that can spark some interest, in this case, to help them plan for their future career. The pressure to pick a route for their future will also be felt at a larger scale here. Career counseling or general counseling can also be a great help for them.

Learning how to stop relying on others and relying on yourself is crucial in personal development

Stage Four – Starting to Be Independent

This is the last stage but it is just as challenging as any other state in personal development in adolescence. By this time, their personalities are almost developed and the habits they have learned will now more or less stick with them for life.

The challenges that they face in this stage include the following different ones:

Early Adults – Age 18 to 23 Years Old

  • Self Esteem Issues – This is when self-awareness will start to take a negative effect. Your child could view their weaknesses and start to believe that they’re not worthy. There’s also doubt of being able to accomplish their goals or meet their adult responsibilities.
  • More Anxiety – Life is really changing for them as they’re literally leaving behind everything they’re familiar with. They are also major doubts, particularly when they don’t have any clear sense of direction for their future. 
  • High Distractions – As the anxiety and self-esteem issues grow, there’s a greater need to indulge in escapist activities. These include going to parties, avoiding responsibilities, limiting social activities or even starting substance use which eventually morphs into abuse.

The Solution

Create a support group to help them understand that they’re not alone. These problems can often lead to one isolating themselves. Keep a check on their mental health and emotional wellbeing. In this case, signs of depression can worsen and suicidal ideation can be possible.

Extend help whenever possible and keep checks on them to ensure that they’re in a good headspace. However, draw a line here. You have to mentor them instead of stepping in to solve their problems. Have faith in their capacity and skills as an adult but also refuse to enable or baby the bad behavior in them.

This is just a brief overview of the journey of personal development in adolescence. Personal development is something that is never completely done. Even as adults, we all continue to grow in different ways.

Just make sure that you’re indulging in activities that allow you to grow well and also boost development in the stages of your life that are yet to come.

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