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THE CHALLENGES OF MIDDLE AND

LATE ADOLESCENCE
A Module organized by: Danielle Malana

What is adolescence?
Adolescence is the period of physical, psychological, and social transition of an
individual from childhood to adulthood.
Adolescents, as a result of hormonal changes, have the tendency to experience a
variety of emotions which can influence the way they perceive their experiences. Thus,
adolescents may feel overwhelmed by the rapid changes in growing up.
Age range of middle adolescence: 13 to 16 years old
Age range of late adolescence: 17 to 20 years old

Common Challenges an Adolescent might face:

1. Physical Appearance. Puberty induces a lot


of changes in an adolescent’s physical
appearance.

Changes include change in body structure,


enlargement of breasts for women and
enlargement of penis for men, growth of facial
hair, growth of body hair in the underarms,
growth of pubic hair, changes in height and
weight, and for some people, the development
of acne on the face.
The variety of new emotions and perceptive abilities in adolescents cause them to
be more self-conscious of their physical appearance
Everyone goes through puberty differently due to everyone’s distinct unique set of
genes
Social media influence adolescence with ideal beauty and body standards

Tip for adolescents: Do not be


someone following another
person’s identity completely. Be
your own person. It takes time.

2. Self-esteem. Adolescents are undergoing the stage


of developing a self-identity, the stage where they
evaluate their self’s worth

An adolescent who has a low self-esteem may feel


“worthless” or “not good enough”
Adolescents should learn how to accept the fact that
everyone is flawed and has his/her own set of
strengths and weaknesses. Every person has
his/her own positive and negative traits.

Tip for adolescents: Learn how to


develop a positive self-concept. Accept
your own limitations and utilize your
strengths. Through this, you can help
yourself develop a good self-esteem and
a healthier life.
3. Group Belongingness. An adolescent may seek
solitude and autonomy, but they also have the urge
to have a sense of belongingness to a group where
they share the same values and interests.

Having friends can develop a person’s social skills.


It can also serve as tool for them in improving their
relationships with other people.
It is a better choice for adolescents to join a group
that will help them develop themselves in different aspects.

Tip for adolescents: In choosing a group, you should


always trust your gut feeling. Do not involve yourself with
groups that promote “exclusivity” and “superiority”. You
should also not involve yourself with violence and other
bad habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and using
illegal drugs.

4. Relationships. In maintaining a relationship, a person should be emotionally


matured. An adolescent, who is still in the process of obtaining maturity, might
struggle in maintaining relationships.

Relationships that occur in adolescents:


a. Parent-child relationship – can be difficult,
especially when the parents are restrictive
Parents have a different perspective
compare to a child.

Tip for adolescents: An adolescent


should understand that his/her parents
are concerned for his/her well-being.
Parents show their love and care for
their children in different ways
b. Relationship with peers and friends –
adolescents find it easier to bond with their peers or
friends rather than with their families because they
share the same thoughts, issues, and ideas.
Healthy friendships are important for an
adolescent’s social development, but maintaining
them can also be challenging

Tip for adolescents: An adolescent does not


have to prove that they are a good friend by
c. doing things such as smoking, drinking alcohol,
Romantic
taking drugs, have
Relationships – sex, cutting classes, or
cheating in
Romantic relationships in adolescents areclass. Being dared to do something
highly
intense and emotional, making it equallythat is not right is not friendship.
challenging
Breakups in romantic relationships are common
in adolescents due to immaturity and lack of
understanding of emotions

Tip for adolescents: It is important for


adolescents to take care and
understand his/her partner. Do not
expect your partner to be perfect.
Instead, accept them for who they truly
are.
5. Sexual Behavior. Puberty among
adolescents emphasize reproductive
characteristics, where hormones such as
testosterone and estrogen affect our organ
systems.

These reproductive hormones awaken a


person’s strong sexual passions or libido.
However, these hormones and newly-
discovered things does not change the fact
that you are a thinking person.
Hypersexualization in popular media fuels a
person’s sexual desires. It is wise to temper
down these hormones. Choose not to rush
when one is not ready. Sex in not always
equal to love.
Unprotected sex can lead into consequences
such as teenage pregnancy and acquiring sexually transmitted infections such as
HIV and many more.

Tip for adolescents: An adolescent should


learn how to be responsible and
accountable for their own actions. One’s
sexual desires should be set aside first in
order to avoid potential consequences.
Some cannot even be repaired.

6. Academic Concerns – the role of a student is


the primary role of an adolescent who is still in
school

Students tend to be problematic when it comes


to their academic studies.
Adolescents should be responsible in dealing
with academic challenges.
Discipline, openness, perseverance, diligence,
excellence, curiosity, analytical and critical thinking, memory, understanding,
cooperation, team work, respecting other people’s beliefs and opinions, social
interactions, leadership and followership are some of the important things that an
adolescent can also learn while in school.
There are circumstances where grades are required in pursuing a higher academic
degree.

Tip for adolescents: Academic grades are


not the only indicators of learning. The most
important thing in school is how a student
learns and what he/she learns. After all, the
real life starts outside of school.

7. Career Choices. The adolescent who is


creating his/her identity is faced with an urgent
need to identify what course to take in college
and establish a career path for the future.
In finding the right career, adolescents need to
know their interests, what things they find
exciting and challenging, and what their skills
and abilities are.
Word of caution: an adolescent should be
ready to make sacrifices before attaining the
kind of wealth and fame that may come in doing what they love to do.

Tip for adolescents: In pursuing a


career, look at what you love to do
and what you’re passionate about,
and the money will just follow.
8. Socio-Emotional Challenges. Various
psychological challenges can also afflict both
male and female adolescents. These include
anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, trauma,
eating disorders, substance abuse, attention-
deficit hyperactivity disorder, insomnia, etc.

Common mental illnesses among


adolescents:
a. Anxiety – sense of impending doom
without a factual basis. An anxious person tends to be apprehensive, irritable,
fearful, and has a lack of confidence.
b. Depression – a mental disorder manifested by a person who loses interest in
most things that used to excite him/he and having feelings of sadness guilt,
worthlessness, and/or helplessness,
c. Panic attack – displayed by feelings of panic, fear, uneasiness, nervousness or
agitation and maybe some accompanying physiological effects.
d. Anorexia nervosa - eating disorder characterized by weight loss, difficulties
maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature, and in
many individuals, distorted body image.
e. Bipolar disorder - brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy,
activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks
f. Trauma - type of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a distressing
event.
g. Insomnia - a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or
staying asleep.

Tip for adolescents: An adolescent suffering from any


kind of mental illness shouldn’t feel afraid to ask for help. It
might be difficult, but there will be a trusting person out
there who can help you and get you the support you need.
People also need to be aware the mental disorders are
also the same as other diseases.
9. Health and Nutrition. A healthy mind and a body is
what an adolescent (and everybody else) need.

Adolescents are gifted with much energy due to their


growing bodies, which results in abuse of one’s body
and mind.
Adolescents usually have poor sleeping patterns and
poor eating habits which may result into something
bad in the future.

Tip for adolescents: Avoid unhealthy food with bad oils


and fat. Drink plenty of water. Regulate the intake of
sweets and animal meat and fat. Reduce the exposure
to television and screen gadgets. Take time to exercise.
Sleep for at least 8-10 hours per night. And last but not
the least, start a healthy habit where you can express
yourself.

10. Gender Identity. An adolescent should


be aware of their personal gender orientation.

Revealing one’s gender identity can be a


struggle, especially being in a collectivistic
country that is predominantly patriarchal. This
may arise into family conflicts.
It is not right to discriminate other people who
don’t share the same gender as yours.
Gender is different from sexuality. Gender
refers to how you define yourself in terms of masculinity/femininity. On the other
hand, sexuality or sexual orientation pertains to your intellectual, emotional, and/or
sexual attraction to other people of the same or different gender.
Examples of Gender Identities (not all included)
a. Traditional genders – male (masculine) and female (feminine)
b. Male-to-Female - a biological male identifies as a female
c. Female-to-Male – a biological female identifies as a male
d. Binary – genders at the end of the gender spectrum (male and female)
e. Non-binary (genderqueer) – identify themselves neither strictly male or female
f. Genderfluid – moving between genders or having a fluctuating gender identity
g. Agender – genderless
h. Bigender – identifying as two genders, commonly (but not exclusively) male and
female
i. Polygender – multiple genders at once
j. Androgyne – used to describe people who are neither male nor female or are
both male and female

Tip for adolescents: Being true to yourself can help


you develop your identity. Self-betrayal is a silent
chain the weighs down an individual’s potential. Do
not depend on other people’s demand and
expectations. Instead, develop you own. Be brave.
11. Roles. All human beings have roles to play in
their lives. These are part of one’s identity, such as
being a son or daughter to your parents, being a
brother or sister to your siblings, being a student in
your school or being a member of an organization.

These roles may seem different from each other, but


adolescents need to learn how to integrate all these
roles together.
Confusion may arise if there’s a discrepancy between
one’s self-identity and the roles one play.
A healthy adolescent whose self-identity is clear and
whose roles are integrated will understand and accept each situation he/she might
face.

Tip for adolescents: Learn how to discipline


yourself and balance your time and energy in
addressing the responsibilities demanded by each
role you play.

12. Other challenges

Some challenges that an adolescent may face can be related to their family’s
financial status. People who are suffering from poverty have a difficulty accessing
necessities such as education, food, shelter, clothes, and entertainment due to the
lack of money.
Adolescents with parents who are far away or deceased can also face difficulties
in their mental and emotional development.
Adolescents who are victims of domestic (physical/verbal) abuse, rape, kidnapping,
bullying, and other related crimes can also face different kinds of physical, mental,
social, and emotional trauma.

Sources:

Santos, R.R. (2016). Personal development, (1st edition). Rex Bookstore: Quezon City
Perez, A.H. (2016). Personal development. Vibal Publishing House Incorporated:
Quezon City
_______ (ND). A list of genders & sexualities and their definitions. Retrieved from:
http://thepbhscloset.weebly.com/a-list-of-genders--sexualities- and-
their-definitions.html