Maureen Gillespie PSY 206 – Dr. Greenp Montgomery County Community College April 15, 2013 Assignment #2 Adolescence is defined as the transition between childhood and adulthood. Many changes happen at this stage. Adolescence involves things such as puberty, greater independence, and a time when someone begins to construct their identity. Identity means their life value and goals including a secure sense of who they are in terms of sexual, vocational, and moral ethics. In the next few paragraphs I will be discussing my Virtual Child, Maeve as she went through adolescence (ages 11- 16).
I am going to delve into the different changes I saw in her and how they relate to theories proposed by Piaget, Erikson, Marcia, and Gardner. Each theory deals with development through adolescence and will help give a better understanding of this time in Maeve’s life. According to Piaget, around age 11 young people enter the formal operational stage. Here they develop the capacity for abstract, systematic, scientific thinking. Whereas concrete operational children can “operate on reality,” formal operational adolescents can “operate on operations. They can come up with new, more general logical rules through reflection, rather than just using concrete things as objects of thought. (p. 301). Formal operational thought invokes verbal reasoning about abstract concepts. Adolescents doing things such as physics are examples of their operating within this stage. Maeve always did well in her math and science grades but, by 10th grade she was very enthusiastic about physics. She even went and entered one of her science projects into a county-wide science fair. Maeve has also taken, and done well, in art since the 7th grade.
At age 14, Maeve's English class required she submit a poem into a school-wide contest. Maeve's poem took home first place in the contest, and her work was placed in a state-wide contest. Her work on art and poetry were reflections of her inner feelings and were not just focused on concrete objects. As Maeve grew cognitively through this stage of her adolescence, she also went through a great deal of emotional and social change. These changes were obvious to us as her parents. These changes were signs that she could think logically and scientifically and was trying to put it all together to form her own identity.
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Identity is defined as a well-organized conception of the self, consisting of values, beliefs, and goals to which the individual is solidly committed. Erikson was the first to recognize identity as the major personality achievement of adolescence and as a crucial step toward becoming a productive, content adult. (p. 314) Identity is planted in an individual early in life, but it is not until late adolescence and early adulthood that people really take on the task and delve into finding their own identity.
By age 12, Maeve began to argue with us over little things such as clothes, bedtime, and household chores. These weren’t things we usually argued over, in fact we rarely argued at all, but as she changed emotionally, so did our arguments. She would talk frequently about what is and isn’t “fair. ” Her moral development was forming as she started to differentiate her thoughts like this. As Maeve progressed through adolescence, she continued to grow morally and socially, but remained relatively easy going and well-behaved. She did well in school, saved her money, and was involved in after school activities.
By the time she was 16, these actions proved she was responsible, and after practicing with me, she went for her driving test. She was just like any other teenager who wanted to hang out, go shopping, and drive around. But, she still always checked-in with us and was rarely late. She had begun to find her identity through independence and was doing well. Maeve was involved with sports and was looking happily ahead on her path towards college. But, late in 11th grade, Maeve started to change for what could have been the worse.
She had quarrels with girlfriends, engaged in a few senseless pranks, and began to date boys. At one point, as an act of defiance, she ran off with her boyfriend and they both got matching tattoos. During the times when she was feeling down, she wouldn’t talk much, but always knew she could. But, when Maeve was ready to talk, she was confident in herself and what she stood for. While her decisions weren’t always that irresponsible, we still found that we didn’t always agree with her. But for Maeve, she seemed to know she was in a trial and error phase of growing up and had to see what worked for her.
We had to let her develop that. Much like Maeve’s trial and error phase, Erikson’s theory of identity versus role confusion explains psychological conflict of adolescence. This theory states that this conflict is resolved positively when adolescents achieve an identity after a period of exploration and inner soul searching. If a young person’s earlier conflicts were resolved negatively or if society limits their choices to ones that do not match their abilities and desires, they may appear shallow, directionless, and unprepared for the challenges of late adulthood. p. 314). Maeve luckily didn’t make many choices that were resolved negatively. These social and emotional changes weren’t always easy for the rest of the family to deal with, but they were a part of her growth. With us there to provide nurturing support, she was able to develop her own healthy identity after her period of “soul searching. ” Researchers commonly evaluate progress in identity development on two key criteria derived from Erikson’s theory. These two criteria are exploration and commitment. Marcia yielded from this, four “identity statuses. These four statuses are: identity achievement, identity moratorium, identity foreclosure, and identity diffusion. Identity moratorium is exploration without commitment to value, foreclosure is commitment in the absence of exploration, and diffusion is an apathetic state where you don’t commit or explore. The following example shows how Maeve does not fit into either of these categories. As you know from previous examples, Maeve explored many social and behavioral changes in her adolescence. One conversation sits with me the most. I had a conversation once with Maeve after she was off the school bus in about 10th grade.
She described a situation where she had a conversation with a good friend, heard her friend’s values, didn’t agree, and respectfully listened while providing feedback as necessary. She came home to tell me all about her values and how she didn’t openly or rudely oppose her friend just because her friend thought differently than she did. She also didn’t change her own values because of this. This is a perfect example of identity achievement which is defined as a commitment to values, beliefs, and goals, following a period of exploration. Maeve stayed true ith these beliefs, stayed on track with her goals in life, and is all set to go to the college of her dreams, because that is what she values. In looking at adolescence it is important to look at how they develop their intelligence. Howard Gardner developed a theory about various intelligences. He articulated seven criteria for a behavior to be considered intelligence. These were that the intelligences showed: 1. Potential for brain isolation by brain damage, 2. Place in evolutionary history, 3. Presence of core operations, 4. Susceptibility to encoding (symbolic expression), . A distinct developmental progression, 6. The existence of savants, prodigies and other exceptional people, 7. Support from experimental psychology and psychometric findings. Gardner chose eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria: spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. I believe that Maeve’s highest intelligences are logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, and interpersonal. She excels in her school work and is involved in higher level physics than that of her grade level.
She participates in science fairs and enjoys using her mind to solve problems. She has always been a social butterfly and enjoys the outdoors. While she did play an instrument for some time, she didn’t enjoy it and wouldn’t be considered the musical type. While she is coordinated when playing sports, she has more than once ran into the trash cans while backing out of our driveway which would make me say she is not of the spatial intelligence. I also would consider a weaker intelligence for her to be linguistics. While she is intelligent it is not her strongest suit, as she isn’t the most eloquent speaker.
In conclusion, there are many factors that come into play when a child is growing through adolescence. They change emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. All of this is to work towards gaining a sense of self and identity to carry with them through adulthood. By taking the time and letting your child go through these phases with your background support, you are preparing your child to take on their world. References * Berk, L. E. (2010). Exploring lifep development. (2nd ed. ). Illinois: Pearson College Div.
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