Discuss areas and characteristics of adjustment in the context of a teenager
With all of these brain changes and novel experiences, we expect to see adolescents undergo significant behavioral and psychological adjustments. Adolescents are facing strong emotions, changing peer relationships, more independence, expectations to be more adult-like, and a desire to take risks, all while lacking a fully mature brain or the life experience to navigate these situations. It is inevitable that some mistakes will occur along the way, as well as a great deal of learning. We will examine some typical adjustment issues encountered by adolescents: driving, aggression, drug use, anxiety, depression, and self-violence.
Several major theories of the development of antisocial behavior treat adolescence as an important period. Patterson’s (1982) ‘early versus late starter model’ of the development of aggressive and antisocial behavior distinguishes youths whose antisocial behavior begins during childhood (early starters) versus adolescence (late starters). According to the theory, early starters are at greater risk for long-term antisocial behavior that extends into adulthood than are late starters. Late starters who become antisocial during adolescence are theorized to experience poor parental monitoring and supervision, aspects of parenting that become more salient during adolescence. Poor monitoring and lack of supervision contribute to increasing involvement with deviant peers, which, in turn, promotes adolescents’ own antisocial behavior. Late starters desist from antisocial behavior when changes in the environment make other options more appealing.
Similarly, Moffitt’s (1993) ‘life-course-persistent versus adolescent-limited model’ distinguishes between antisocial behavior that begins in childhood versus adolescence. Moffitt regards adolescent-limited antisocial behavior as resulting from a “maturity gap” between adolescents’ dependence on and control by adults and their desire to demonstrate their freedom from adult constraint. However, as they continue to develop, and legitimate adult roles and privileges become available to them, there are fewer incentives to engage in antisocial behavior, leading to discontinuation of these antisocial behaviors.