By: Dr. Shazia Veqar Siddiqui ( Asstt. Editor-ICN Group )
LUCKNOW: Adolescents constitute one of the major portion of our population who are the future of this country. It is very important to talk of their health as there is a mismatch between their physical and cognitive development (childish brain in a nearly adult body). There is a sudden physical growth without the adequate cognitive development which makes it difficult for the parents to handle them and it becomes difficult for the adolescents as well to live up to societal expectations. so it is important to talk about adolescents maturity.
Recently during the “Adolescent Health Awareness Week 8th – 14th organized by Adolescent Health Academy- Lucknow, a series of lectures were given on this topic.
Adolescent is a period of dynamic change from childhood to adulthood. It is a period of preparation for adulthood. There is furious growth and development and development of adult mental process, development of identity (Who am I?), transition from total dependence to relative independence and there are exciting opportunities, but new risks.
Structural MRI studies have demonstrated that the brain undergoes considerable development during adolescence. During adolescence, behavior is often more governed by the emotional centers than the thinking centers of the brain, especially during high arousal situations and in peer presence.
Most robustly seen across cultures are: increased novelty seeking; increased risk taking; and a social affiliation shift toward peer-based interactions. Although the behaviours may lead to danger, they confer an evolutionary advantage by encouraging separation from the comfort and safety of the natal family.
The behaviour changes also foster the development and acquisition of independent survival skills. There is a development of advanced reasoning skills, abstract thinking skills, ability to think about thinking: “meta-cognition” Most teens are more “attached” to their parents, but they prefer the company of their friends.
Successful transition results in establishing an identity, answering the question, “Who am I?” established autonomy and becoming an independent and self-governing person within relationships, achievement orientation, identification of what they are currently good at and areas in which they are willing to strive for success.
However, when things go wrong, it results in substance use/abuse involvement in violent activity, relational problems, developmental lags, suicide risk, poor academic performance , depression and anxiety, recklessness behaviour, delinquency and adult offending.
Parenting strengths that predict optimal adjustment in late adolescence are close relationship to caring parent figure and extended family and neighborhood, close ties with school, effective communication, monitoring and structure of routine.
Because teens are vulnerable, fascinating and challenging, they can be among your most rewarding patients when you connect with them in a genuine way!