Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence

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					                 Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence

Conceptions of Adolescence
   Adolescence- the transition period between childhood and adulthood.
   Puberty marks the beginning of adolescence, with a huge change in body
      development and concurrent hormonal changes that lead to sexual maturity.
   Biological perspective suggests that along with the physical changes due to
      puberty, comes heightened emotionality, conflict, and defiance of adults – Hall’s
      storm and stress view.
   Social perspective says that the problems focused on during adolescence are
      exaggerated. Mead believed that teens had problems related to how the culture
      treated this changing stage. If the social environment offers clear guidelines in
      adjustment to adulthood, children won’t have developmental problems.
   Balanced point of view suggests that adolescence is a function of both biological
      and social forces. There are natural stresses in learning new roles, taking on more
      responsibility, so there will be self-doubt and disappointment. Culture also
      determines how long this transition period will be.

Puberty: the physical transition to adulthood falls into two types: 1) overall body
growth and 2) maturation of sexual characteristics.
    Hormonal changes
          o Growth hormone (GH) increases to promote bone and muscle growth.
          o Thyroxine increases.
          o Estrogens are the female hormones, but they are also found in males.
              They promote breast development, sex organ development. They also
              regulate the menstrual cycle.
          o Androgens (testosterone) drive muscle growth, hair growth and mature
              male sex characteristics. They drive gains in body size, as well as libido.
          o Adrenal androgens released by the adrenals atop the kidneys influence
              girls’ height spurt and body hair.
    Body growth
          o Growth spurt- the first outward sign of puberty is the rapid gain in height
              and weight. Girls begin growing after age 10, boys around age 12 ½.
              Girls’ size gains are surpassed by boys when their spurt begins. Growth
              for girls is about over by age 16, for boys by age 17 ½.
          o Body proportions change as the body reverses the cephalocaudal trend-
              the hands, legs, and feet outgrow the torso, then the torso grows. So they
              truly are gawky and out of proportion. Sex differences appear. Boys’
              shoulder broaden, girls’ hips broaden. Boys end up taller in general,
              because they had longer to grow before the growth spurt occurred.
          o Muscle-fat makeup – girls add fat from age 8+, especially between 11
              and 16. Boys lose fat on arms and legs. Muscle increase is greater in boys,
              as well as lung capacity, blood cells and oxygenation, leading to overall
              greater muscle strength.
          o Changing states of arousal as teens go through sleep “phase delay”. They
              go to bed later and have a hard time getting up the in morning. Sleep
               declines from 10 hours to 7 or 8 hours/ night. Sleep deprivation
               contributes to poor academic performance, depression, behavior problems.
               Some schools have compensated by having high school start later than
               elementary school.
      Motor development and physical activity- gross motor performance improves,
       with girls’ gains leveling off around age 14. Boys spurt in strength, speed and
       endurance all through the teen years. Boys and girls are no longer well-matched
       physically, so gender-segregated PE begins in middle school. Many new sports
       are included in the curriculum at this point. Title IX in 1972 mandated equal
       opportunities for both genders in sports, etc, so girls are participating more than in
       the past. But expectations & rewards are still higher for boys in athletics. Sports
       participation is helpful, not just for physical training, but for competition,
       assertiveness training, problem solving, and teamwork.
      Sexual maturation
           o Primary sexual characteristics are reproductive organs’ development.
           o Secondary sexual characteristics are additional signs of sexual maturity-
               breast development, bodily hair.
           o Sexual maturation in girls –Menarche is first menstruation, around 12+
               years. After menarche, secondary characteristics develop over 3 years. For
               about a year after menarche, there is no ovulation, leading to a temporary
               sterility as the girls’ body matures. This occurs after the growth spurt,
               when a girl actually could have a baby.
           o Sexual maturation in boys –Spermarche is first ejaculation, after age
               13. The first sign of puberty in boys is the enlargement of the testes. The
               growth spurt peaks around age 14, when the sex organs are nearly mature.
               Facial and body hair develop. As the larynx enlarges and vocal cords
               lengthen, boys’ voice changes.
      Individual and group differences- Heredity contributes to timing of puberty, as
       well as nutrition and exercise. Body fat percentage contributes to girls’ timing of
       sexual maturation. Fat cells stimulate the ovaries to produce sex hormones, so
       menarche may occur earlier for heavier girls. Girls who are delayed in
       development may be very thin or training vigorously. Overall physical health
       seems to contribute to development, since teens in poverty suffering malnutrition
       may develop much later. African-American girls reach menarche earlier than
       White girls. Family security or chaos also contributes- evolution seems to have set
       us up to develop earlier if our families are disturbed or at risk- earlier procreation.
           o Secular trend is a generational trend in pubertal timing. In wealthier
               nations, girls’ age of menarche has declined over the past 100 years.

Psychological impact of pubertal events
    Reactions of pubertal changes-Girls experience mixed feelings about the
      transition into adulthood- happy to be a woman, but confused about what that will
      mean for them, what expectations they must meet, etc. If they have no prior
      knowledge, menarche will be disturbing to them. Most girls today are informed,
      so it’s not a shock. Girls also tell a friend or parent. Boys also experience
      disturbed feelings, even though they usually know what to expect. They also don’t
    have the outlet to talk about their experience with others, so they get less social
    support to deal with the changes.
        o Rite of passage is an initiation ceremony that marks a change in privilege
            and responsibility. These celebrations let the teen know that their changes
            are valued in their culture. Western teens have many ages of significance-
            age for employment, driving, leaving school, voting, drinking. Since
            there’s not a consistent time that marks maturity, they seem to be delayed
            in fully maturing.
   Pubertal change, emotion, and social behavior
        o Adolescent moodiness is somewhat related to hormonal fluctuations,
            there are other things that also contribute. Negative events linked to
            negative moods: problems with parents, discipline, problems at school,
            breaking up with a girlfriend, etc. Their moods are more unstable than in
            the past. Mood relates to activities, so they generally are happier on the
            weekend when with peers.
        o Parent-child relationships- there is a rise in conflict with parents as teens
            try to establish some autonomy. This is not culturally related, as it occurs
            in most cultures. This seems to allow for the separation that is necessary at
            this time. First there is psychological distancing, finally physical
            separation. Friction increases as teens’ abstract thinking graduates to
            wanting to be treated like an adult, instead of a child. Unfortunately, teens
            can’t accurately judge risk, so their parents have legitimate concerns and
            feel the need to oversee their activities and friends.
   Early vs. late maturation is different for boys and girls. Boys’ early maturing is
    viewed as a positive, enhancing self-esteem and confidence. Girls’ early maturing
    may leave them feeling odd girl out, burdened with responsibility, more anxious
    and less confident. Early maturing girls may be more involved in substance abuse,
    sexual activity and lower achieving in school. Later maturing girls are seen as
    more physically attractive, sociable and school leaders. These perceptions depend
    on how closely the teens’ body matches the ideals of attractiveness, and how well
    youth fit in physically with peers.
        o Role of physical attractiveness – this one aspect determines much of a
            teens’ popularity. The ideal is long-legged, tall, thin for girls; tall, broad-
            shouldered, muscular for boys.
                  Body image (attitude toward one’s physical appearance) is more
                    negative for early maturing girls. Boys develop a more positive
                    body image if they are early maturing.
        o Importance of fitting in with peers- those who find themselves at the
            ends of the average ranges have fewer people to connect to with the same
            maturing issues. Early maturers tend to hang with older peers, which may
            have some negative side-effects, such as early introduction to substances
            and sex. If early maturing girls go to a girls’ school, there’s not as much
            pressure from peers. Also it helps if girls stay in a K-6 school.
        o Long-term consequences are almost the opposite of the initial reactions.
            Early maturing girls and later maturing boys tend to be independent,
            flexible, achieving and satisfied with life as adults. The other youth tend to
               be rigid and dissatisfied as adults. They may not have had to develop the
               same coping skills as teens who suffered during adolescence.

Health Issues
    Nutritional needs shift during the growth spurt- teens eat a lot more.
      Unfortunately, their diets are poorest, as they have more autonomy and don’t eat
      with the family as often. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional problem.
      They may also have poor intake of calcium, which they need for growing bones.
      Many girls are engaging in fad diets, so their diets are skewed.
    Eating disorders erupt at this time as girls are comparing their bodies to peers
      and advertisements, setting up disappointment with their looks. Serious eating
      disorders begin with a diet which allows the teen a feeling of control.
          o Anorexia nervosa is self-starvation due to a fear of getting fat. It is a
              more common problem for girls (90% of anorexics are girls), but it’s
              found in all SES groups and most cultures, except African-American.
              Anorexics have distorted body images, seeing themselves as fat, even
              though they have bones sticking out. They may exercise strenuously, as
              well. They may lose 25-50% of body weight, even losing their menstrual
              cycle and contributing to bone loss, heart deterioration, kidney failure and
              brain damage. 6% of anorexics die from the disease. These girls tend to be
              perfectionists and don’t believe anything they do is good enough. They
              may be high achieving students, but get little satisfaction from that.
              Parents tend to be overcontrolling, especially focused on appearance,
              emotionally distant. These girls rebellion is internal through unshakable
              self-control. Hospitalization may be necessary to save the girls’ lives since
              they don’t believe they have a problem. The treatment involves family
          o Bulimia nervosa is the binge-purge eating disorder. Dentists often pick up
              this disorder first, since vomiting destroys enamel on teeth, and may cause
              tears in the esophagus. 2-3% of girls may have this disorder (1% for
              anorexics). There is a fear of getting fat, but the families are more
              emotionally distant, rather than controlling. For bulimics, food is a
              compensation for lack of parental care and nurture. Bulimics know they
              have a problem, and they may also engage in substance abuse, or
              shoplifting. They are more open to getting help, especially with support
              groups, therapy, education, and retraining in body imaging.
    Sexual activity increases as teens have more time with peers, and the sex
      hormones drive libido to a high level.
          o Culture makes a difference in how a teen is talked to about sex, as well as
              how much sex a teen is exposed to in the culture. Western culture offers
              many images of sex, yet not much clear information about the
              consequences of sexual behavior. Most parents still hold restrictive sexual
              values for teens, so they don’t talk much or clearly to them about sex.
          o Adolescent sexual attitudes and behavior have become more liberal
              over the past 30 years. As attitudes liberalize, so does behavior. Males
              have sex earlier than girls, but most have sex with only one partner.
o Characteristics of sexually active adolescents- early maturation, parental
  divorce, single-parent homes, large families, little religious involvement,
  sexually active friends or siblings, poor school achievement, delinquency
  and deviant behavior, impoverished background.
o Contraceptive use has increased, but 20% of teens are at risk for
  unintended pregnancy. One common reason given is that they weren’t
  planning to have sex. There is still a stigma against teen sexuality, which
  puts them at higher risk for consequences. 12% of American girls say they
  have been forced to have sex. 25% of those having sex, say they didn’t
  really want to but felt they had little choice. Teens who have a good
  relationship with parents tend to use birth control more responsibly.
o Sexual orientation differs for 3-6% of teens who recognize they are gay
  or lesbian. Heredity contributes to homosexuality, as identical twins of
  both sexes are more likely than fraternal twins to share a homosexual
  orientation. It may be sex-linked, more common to the mother’s blood line
  than the father’s. Certain genes affect the impact of prenatal sex
  hormones, which modify brain structures that may induce homosexual
  behavior and feelings. Female fetuses exposed to higher levels of
  androgens in the womb have a greater likelihood of being lesbian. Gay
  men are more likely to be later born in a family of boys, indicating the
  mother’s body produces antibodies to androgens which reduce the impact
  of male sex hormones on the brains of later-born boys. Since some
  cultures stigmatize homosexuals, developing a healthy sexual identity is
  harder for a homosexual teen. This seems to go through 3 phases:
       Feeling different – many homosexuals say they felt different even
          as children. Their play interests were more like the opposite
          gender, even before sexual drive developed.
       Confusion occurs as teens feel sexually different. There is
          awareness of same-sex attraction between ages 11 & 12 for boys,
          and 14 & 15 for girls. Confusion occurs since they all assumed
          they were heterosexual like all their friends. They may struggle
          with what that identity means for them, and they have few role
          models to observe. They may intensify gender-appropriate
          behavior in order to deny their differences (boys going out for
          sports or into the military, girls going into dance, instead of sports).
          Most try heterosexual dating, but some engage in substance abuse
          or suicidal ideation as they contemplate their differences.
       Acceptance comes gradually, but then they have to determine how
          and who to tell. Some may “pass” so they don’t have to tell, but
          most eventually decide to declare their sexual orientation, first with
          friends, then family and others. If people act positively, coming out
          will strengthen one’s view of self as positive, achieving, with
          meaningful goals to follow. They need contact with other
          successful gays in order to consider all the possibilities for their
          lives. Once they have come out, they can focus more attention on
                    other aspects of development, such as self-esteem, cognitive
                    development, psychological well-being, spiritual connections.
   Sexually transmitted disease is most prevalent in adolescence. 1/6 sexually
    active teens will contract an STD. Untreated, sterility and other health
    complications can occur.
        o AIDS is the most serious STD, since there is no cure and it compromises
            the entire immune system. It is more common in drug-abusing teens who
            share needles as well as homosexual partners of AIDS sufferers.
            Heterosexual spread is more common in women. It is twice as easy for a
            male to infect a female with an STD than vice versa.
        o Prevention
                 Know your partner well
                 Maintain mutual faithfulness
                 Do not use drugs
                 Use a latex condom and vaginal contraceptive when having sex
                    with a nonmarital partner
                 Do not have sex with a person with an STD
                 If you get an STD, inform all recent partners
   Adolescent pregnancy and parenthood has declined, but still the US rate is
    higher than other industrialized countries. 40-45% of teen pregnancies end in
    abortion, but most girls will just keep their babies, regardless of whether they
        o Correlates and consequences of adolescent parenthood affect many
            areas of their lives- developing a sense of purpose, career direction,
            independence and maturity for quality parenting. They may have histories
            of poor school achievement, poor parental relationships, substance abuse.
            Because their parenting skills are weak, their children tend to score low on
            intelligence tests, have poor school achievement and have behavior
            problems. If these mothers can finish school, find a stable partner, their
            chances for success in life can be better.
                 Educational attainment – having a baby reduces the chances of
                    finishing school. Only 50% of teen mothers graduate.
                 Marital patterns – marriage is less likely for teen mothers, and
                    they have greater chances of divorce.
                 Economic circumstances are poor, welfare is essential, and their
                    jobs are not very interesting and have little chances of promotion.
        o Prevention strategies must address the underlying factors that set this
            pregnancy in motion: lack of sex education or ineffective sex education.
                 Sex education that includes:
                         Teaching skills for handling sexual situations- role
                         Promoting the value of abstinence
                         Providing information about contraceptives and access
                         Building social competence
        o Intervening with adolescent parents may include helping them to have
            their own home, grandparent assistance, job training, health care for
                mother and baby, parenting training, child care. Child support laws may
                increase the fathers’ involvement with their children. Certainly financial
                support will lessen the mother’s stress.
      Substance abuse is rampant with teens. By the end of high school, 22% smoke,
       60% have engaged in heavy drinking, over 50% have used illegal drugs, usually
       marijuana. 30% have tried addictive drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, PCP.
       In the past few years, the rates have dropped somewhat. Most teens just dabble in
       an effort to experiment with adult behaviors. But we have a greater problem with
       illegal drugs in this country, since we have more people in poverty, which
       correlates with serious drug use. Abuse means taking drugs regularly,
       experiencing withdrawal, moving to harder substances, and using at the expense
       of school, work, family responsibilities or relationships.
           o Correlates and consequences of adolescent substance abuse have to do
                with the nature of their problems- drug abusers are unhappy and act out in
                an antisocial way. There may be a genetic connection, but there also may
                be environmental problems- low SES, family mental health issues, family
                drug abuse, lack of parental warmth, sexual or physical abuse, failure in
                school. Peers who use drugs are a predictor of substance abuse. When they
                space out on drugs, they aren’t developing maturity and coping skills for
                adulthood. They develop depression, anxiety, and act out in unfortunate
           o Prevention and treatment include on-call transportations services for
                safe rides, education on consequences of drug use, parenting training in
                reducing conflict, training of teens in conflict management and stress
                management. Treatment may require hospitalization, monitoring, family
                therapy, tutoring in academic skills. Even so, relapse occurs 35-85% of the
                time. Treatment addresses the phenomenon of relapse management.

Cognitive development
Piaget’s theory: the Formal Operational Stage is the time when teens develop abstract,
scientific thinking. Characteristics include:
     Hypothetico-deductive reasoning means beginning with an overarching theory
        of factors, then developing hypotheses that may answer the problem and testing
        these possibilities. Teens move from possibility to reality. They can vary one
        factor at a time, holding the others constant to deduce the solution of a problem.
        The pendulum problem asks teens to figure out what influences the speed a
        pendulum swings, using strings of different lengths, and objects of different
        weights. Teens can approach this problem in a systematic way.
     Propositional thought means evaluating the logic of verbal statements
        (propositions) without referring to real-world circumstances. They can consider
        logic using concrete evidence. Abstract thought requires language in order to
        represent things which are not concrete, higher math, physics theories, etc.
     Recent research
             o Are children capable of abstract thinking? They become much better at
                propositional thinking after age 11, improving after that.
           o Do all individuals reach the formal operational stage? Not all adults
             use formal operations thinking, even those who are college-educated. It
             depends on course content. Tribal societies have little need for this level of
             thought, so they don’t master these tasks. This may be a culturally
             transmitted way of thinking that comes as a result of formal education.

Information-Processing view of adolescent cognitive development
    Characteristics
          o Attention is more focused on relevant information and the demands of a
          o Strategies become more effective, with better storage, representation, and
             retrieval of information.
          o Knowledge increases, so strategy use declines.
          o Metacognition expands, allowing for more effective strategies in learning
             and solving problems.
          o Cognitive self-regulation improves, allowing for better monitoring and
             reconfiguration of learning strategies.
          o Processing capacity increases due to brain development and increased
             speed of processing. More space in working memory is freed so more
             information can be held at once.
    Scientific reasoning: coordinating theory with evidence improves with age, as
      children will distort conflicting evidence in order to hang onto a favorite theory.
      Teens can distinguish a theory from evidence and use rules of logic to examine
    How scientific reasoning develops – through many educational opportunities to
      question theory with evidence, people get better at evaluating evidence and
      applying logic. Some people are more flexible in their thought. Teens are
      developing metacognitive awareness, as well as developing separate skills in
      problem solving, that can eventually be combined into an effective system.

Consequences of abstract thought
   Argumentativeness comes out of the advanced thinking abilities teens are
      developing. They can use facts to build a case for expanded freedoms. As families
      discuss rules, teens get better at debating the underlying values supporting the
      rules. Teens generally hold onto parental values once they see the reason for
      them. As they defend their points of view, even with other peers, they learn
      debate, critical thinking, and negotiation of differences.
   Self-consciousness and self-focusing comes out as a new egocentrism- an
      inability to distinguish the abstract perspectives of themselves from others.
      Eventually they develop a better understanding of others’ perspectives.
          o Imaginary audience is the concept that teens believe they are the focus of
              everyone else’s attention and concern. If they are obsessed with
              themselves, surely everyone else is, too! They feel “on stage”, so they act
              very self-conscious, easily embarrassed. It makes them hypersensitive to
              criticism and obsessive about their appearance. They become very
              preoccupied with what others think of them.
            o Personal fable means an inflated opinion about their importance. They
                feel special, unique, and invulnerable. Their emotionality is extreme, as
                they think their experience is the first one of its kind and no one could
                possibly understand. It contributes to risk-taking.
      Planning and decision making is more analytical than in the past. They are
       better at self-regulation, planning their study and progress toward a goal. This
       planning may not transcend to social judgments, however, particularly if they
       have multiple options for entertainment with various peers.
      Idealism and criticism- now they can imagine the possible, even ideal, so
       perfection becomes a real possibility. This opens the world up to the teen in a way
       s/he has never thought about before. Their idealism encompasses visions of a
       perfect world, with no poverty, pollution, hardship. They judge adults harshly for
       letting things get so broken down. They don’t understand what the older
       generation has been doing all this time. It contributes to a real generation gap in
       understanding of possibilities. They have the energy to really work toward some
       social changes, but they also have a judgmentalism that chafes adults.

Sex differences in Mental abilities
    General differences: Girls are better in reading, writing, & general verbal ability.
       Boys generally do better than girls in math, especially abstract reasoning,
       complex word problems, geometry. At the highest levels of math reasoning, boys
       outscored girls 13/1. Boys’ stronger spatial abilities seem to link to higher math
       reasoning ability. Math has been seen as a masculine study, so many girls were
       not encouraged to develop math abilities and rarely take the most challenging
       math classes in school (unfortunately limiting their possibilities for life.)
    Sex differences have decreased in the past years, as science and math are being
       taught in ways that are more agreeable to girls. The more hands-on and applied
       these subjects are taught, the more girls are engaged in them. Group activities
       help girls to actively learn these subjects. In the past, competition in these classes
       left girls with no voice, as boys blurted out answers before girls had a chance to
       process the problem. Girls instinctively believed they were incompetent.
    Sex differences in spatial abilities have been the greatest. Mental rotation tasks
       show a large gender gap favoring boys. Males also do better on spatial
       perception tasks, where people must consider the orientation separate from the
       environment. These gender differences show up early in childhood. It seems that
       prenatal exposure to androgens enhances right brain functioning, giving them a
       spatial advantage. Girls who had high prenatal exposure to androgens do well on
       spatial tasks. These biologically based differences may have resulted after
       thousands of years hunting and wandering far from the camp to hunt and return.
       Experience does make a difference, however, since children who have
       manipulative games and toys, do better on spatial tasks. Playing video games
       enhances spatial representation. Boys do these things more. Self-confidence in
       math predicts higher scores, though, and boys have greater confidence in their
       abilities, especially in math, despite their actual grades.
Learning in school
    School transitions
          o Impact of school transitions can often be negative, particularly if teens
              have problems adjusting to the new environment. Each transition, even
              within a school system, sees grades drop. As teens move to more
              responsible expectations of higher grades, they may not be able to perform
              at the same level. They also get less personal attention, have larger classes
              and less opportunity to participate as they get older. Self-esteem drops,
              especially for girls. 6-3-3 school systems have the greatest negative impact
              on girls, since girls measure their self-worth in terms of friendships and
              how they fit in. Each transition challenges their relational abilities. If their
              school achievement suffers, they often begin a negative spiral.
          o Helping adolescents adjust- if parents can increase support, engage
              teachers more, they can ease the difficulty inherent in transitions. The 8-4
              school system works better for middle school children.
    Academic achievement can be enhanced by positive educational environments,
      encouragement of achievement, high standards, and building confidence in the
      teen’s abilities.
          o Child-rearing practices
                    Authoritative parenting
                    Joint parent-adolescent decision making
                    Parent involvement in teen’s education
          o Parent-school partnerships
                    Parents keep up with teen’s progress, communicate with teachers,
                       and keep teens in challenging activities.
          o Peer influences
                    Peer values for high achievement
          o School characteristics
                    Classroom experiences that are more personal are more effective.
                       When teachers become mentors, students benefit from role
                       modeling, as well as learning high-level thinking.
                    Active participation in learning activities and decision-making.
                    Tracking or ability grouping is undesirable, since it sends the
                       message that ability is stable and unresponsive to training or
                       studying. It is stigmatizing, as well, sending the message that the
                       student shouldn’t have high expectations, they won’t be possible.
                       There is a natural sorting that occurs in response to SES, type of
                       school attended, learning experiences outside the classroom.
          o Part-time work is a factor for half of students in the US. The jobs are
              repetitive, and too much time (over 15 hours/week) relate to poorer school
              attendance, lower grades, fewer extracurricular activities. Students who
              work too much are distanced from parents and more apt to use drugs. They
              develop a cynicism about work that contributes to burnout at an early age.
    Dropping out happens for 11% of US students. It is higher for lower SES
      minority youths, especially Hispanic and Native American. They lack skills
      necessary for good jobs, so they remain marginally employed.
o Factors related to dropping out
      Academic difficulties
      Low academic self-esteem
      Learned helplessness, giving up easily
      Poor attentional control
      Poor parental involvement in school activities, often dropouts
o Prevention strategies
      High-quality vocational training
      Remedial instruction and counseling
      Efforts to address the factors related to dropping out
      Extracurricular activities that focus on the arts, community
        service, vocational development. These are structured, goal-
        oriented activities that require teens to take on challenging roles
        and responsibilities. They learn to be mentors to younger children
        and caring helpers for older people. This enhances self-worth and
        shows teens what they have to offer. They develop relationships
        with good role models who expand their beliefs about their