The Development of the Social, Cognitive and Physical Domains of an Adolescent
Adolescents are progressing through a very interesting developmental period of their lives. During this time they endure many social, cognitive and physical changes. This paper discusses these domains while providing examples from a female adolescent on her own life, and providing data from relevant literature.
Ashley is a seventeen year old female who is in twelfth grade; she occupies a considerable amount of her time with peers and friends.
She reported her time being spent in school, playing on an all girls basketball team and working at her part time job at a restaurant. She spends roughly three to four hours daily with her friends and peers outside of school. A noticeably less amount of time is spent with her family.
Approximately an hour or so outside of school, work and recreational activities per day is spent with her family. She occupies the remainder of her time by enjoying some alone time. This is consistent with the research about peer relationships, which conveyed the message that adolescents occupy a greater amount of their time with peers and less with their families (Peers, 2019).
Research has demonstrated that adolescents are expected to spend about 103 minutes a day among their friends and about 28 minutes of their day among their families (Peers, 2019). Peers are individuals that are typically around similar age, and may work together or go to school together. Friends are described as individuals that share a mutual, emotionally valued relationship with one another.
When asked to describe her friendships, Ashley’s descriptions could be summarized and described as integrated relationships. The integrated relationship is one of four types of relationships; the four types of relationships include friendly, intimate, integrated and uninvolved (Peers, 2019). Friendly relationship places attention on the activities individuals share with one another, such as playing on the same basketball team. The intimate relationship focuses on emotional attachment and warmth individuals share; for example, Ashley established that her close friendships were partly based on intimate conversations. The integrated relationship involves both aspects from the friendly and intimate relationships, and the uninvolved relationship would display the lack of friendly and intimate relationship characteristics (Peers, 2019). Ashley described her friendships as being built on shared activities like basketball, as well as intimate conservations; therefore, her friendships would be labeled as integrated relationships.
When asked how her friends provide support for her, Ashley described the characteristics of informational support. There are four types of support that are provided between friends, those of which include informational, instrumental, companionship, and esteem (Peers, 2019). Informational support is when friends provide advice and guidance to one another in regards to personal issues. Instrumental support entails assisting friends with actual assignments, which can include but is not limited to, schoolwork in the case of adolescence. Companionships support encompasses the displaying of dependability on a friend to be there for you at social activities; and lastly esteem support involves individuals supporting each other in times of failure and celebrating together in times of success. Ashley described her friend’s support as informational, and this was evident in how she described her interactions with friends. She specifically explained that when she was going through a break up, her friends were there to provide advice and be there for her. This demonstrated informational support. Talking with her friends about decisions and sharing advice amongst themselves appeared to be a commonality amongst Ashley’s friends.
When asked about her relationships within her family, Ashley provided a great deal of information about her relationships with her parents and sibling. This had proven to be insightful when determining what attachment style would best describe Ashley. When attempting to understand relationships within a family it has been shown to be useful to examine the relationships through the family systems approach. The family systems approach entails the recognition that each subsystem in the family influences other subsystems in the family. A subsystem can be described as relationships between individuals in the family, such as the relationship between a mother and an adolescent daughter. Also, a change in any family member or family subsystem results in a period of disequilibrium until the family system adjusts to the change. Disequilibrium can be defined as an unbalance in the family, for example; if a sibling moves out of the house, or a divorce takes place. This will take time for all family members to adjust. Once adjustment has taken place equilibrium can be restored. Equilibrium can be described as balance in the family, when there is a rhythm to how the family functions. Ashley was asked if there had ever been a big change in her family, and how did it get resolved; she described the time her grandmother passed away. Her grandmother was very involved in her family, and after her passing it seemed that her parents struggled with day-to-day tasks; this would be considered the family being in disequilibrium. She explained that her family has since adjusted to not having her grandmother around; this would be considered the return to equilibrium.
There are four parenting styles, which include authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and disengaged. Parenting styles are evaluated through the means of demandingness and responsiveness. The demandingness aspect is comprised of how parents produce expectations and guidelines for their children. The responsiveness involves the compassion and warmth parents express towards their children’s needs and their children in general. Authoritative parents are both high in demandingness and high in responsiveness; meaning that these parents have high prospects for their children but also engage in discussion with their children to explain why things may be the way they are. Authoritarian parenting style is high in demandingness but low in responsiveness; this means that the parents have great expectations for their children, and do not display much warmth toward them. Permissive parenting style is low in demandingness and high in responsiveness; this means that the parent has limited expectations of their children and express great warmth toward their children. The disengaged parenting style displays low in both demandingness and responsiveness. Unfortunately, the parents that use this approach are commonly uninvolved with their children’s lives.
When asked about her relationship with her parents Ashley’s description was of the authoritative parenting style. Ashley’s relationship with her parents is built on open communication and high expectations. She talked about how her parents have placed great emphasis on open communication, but also have great expectations of her to remain committed to her job, do well in school and contribute at home by doing her chores. The authoritative parenting style is the most ideal and provides the best outcomes in Western culture (Family Relationships, 2019). A few of the outcomes for adolescents that are favourable include but are not limited to independence and good social skills. Ashley demonstrated these favourable outcomes in her daily life based on her commitment to her employment and clarity in the way she spoke about her relationships. She demonstrated independence at her job; she talked about how she had been given a new responsibility for closing the restaurant some nights. She confirmed that she had developed good social skills through her discussion of her life and the amount of healthy active relationships she had in her life. The healthy relationships were between her and her friends, her peers, and her family. She expressed that she has no difficulties in approaching individuals in her life to discuss issues. She particularly spoke about an incident where her friend was being too flirty with her boyfriend and she discussed the matter with her friend and they maturely worked things out.
It appeared that Ashley would fit the definition of having a secure attachment style, which is also attributed to having been brought up with authoritative parents. John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth both critically studied attachment and produced critical data that is used to frequently analyze attachment to this day. Bowlby went on to describe types of attachment, which include secure and insecure; with insecure having subtypes of avoidant, resistant, and disorganized (Family Relationships, 2019). Secure attachment is demonstrated in infants who use their mothers as a source of security; they explore their environment but pursue comfort from their mother or primary caregiver if they become threatened. Insecure Infants are cautious of discovering their environments and have been found to display avoidant behaviour when their mothers or primary caregiver puts efforts toward soothing them. Positive outcomes that come from secure attachment include but are not limited to higher self-esteem, better psychological physical health, and self-reliant (Family Relationships, 2019). Ainsworth’s work involved the execution of the strange situation experiment, which observed attachment styles. She designed the strange situation experiment to study emotional attachment between a primary caregiver and their child. Children with secure attachments executed the use of their mother as a safe base to explore their environment and welcomed the caregiver when they attempted to comfort them. The children that had insecure attachment displayed cautious behaviors regarding exploration of their environment and avoidant behaviour when the primary caregiver attempts to comfort them. Ainsworth’s work was beneficial in providing a great observatory for the execution of the various attachment styles.
In relevance to Ashley, based on her current relationships with her parents, peers and friends it appears that she would have displayed a secure attachment style when she was a child. Erikson’s explanation of development, which will further be addressed in the Identity Development section of this paper, described individuals as going through crises at various stages in their development. According to Erikson’s theory, if Ashley had a secure attachment in her childhood, this would have provided her with the platform to help her move forward into her adolescence and be on the right path toward identity achievement. Which would explain why she has demonstrated the many positive outcomes that she has thus far in her life.
There were four different types of sibling relationships caregiver, buddy, critical, rival and casual. The caregiver sibling relationship was described as a relationship in which one sibling provides care for the other in such a way that a parent typically would. Buddy sibling relationships would describe as a relationship in which the siblings treat each other as friends. A critical sibling relationship involves elevated levels of conflict between siblings. Rival relationship between siblings involves competitive behaviour between the siblings, including the siblings comparing their success against each other. A casual relationship between siblings has been described as not being emotionally intense; the siblings may not be involved in each other lives. Ashley is the eldest sibling; she has one younger brother who is fourteen years old. When asked about her relationship with him she described a casual relationship. She mentioned that they only see each other in passing at home and rarely spend time in the same room if they are home at the same time. Her brother is involved in many sports and spends a lot of his time with friends and peers in recreational activities. She described her family as very busy and they do not usually have time to sit down as a family for dinner.