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PSY 375 Middle Childhood and Adolescence




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The Adolescent Battlefield
Psy 375
January 23, 2011

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The Adolescent Battlefield
Adolescence is undoubtedly the most unstable part of an individual’s life span
development. It is during this time that individuals are transitioning from childhood to
adulthood. This period of transition varies slightly with each individual; however, all adolescents
go through a myriad of developmental changes during the ages of ten to fourteen. These
developmental changes happen rapidly and intensely to the physical, cognitive, social, and
emotional growth of the adolescent.
Physical Changes
Physical changes include puberty, which is a period of sexual maturation. Puberty in
adolescent females and males differ in extreme ways, except that it prepares both sexes for
adulthood and reproduction. In females, the first sign of puberty is the development of the
breasts with other signs including the growth of hair in pubic areas and armpits as well as the
widening of the hips and finally the first menstrual period, which is called menarche. In males
the first sign of puberty is an increase in the size of the penis and testicles followed by the
growth of hair in pubic areas and armpits. These signs are followed by muscle growth, deepening
of the voice, and the first ejaculation of the seminal fluid called the spermarche.
Hormonal and Social Changes
Adolescents also experience emotional moodiness because of hormonal influences.
Frequent emotional changes and sexual desires lead adolescents to try to find their own
individuality through a variety of means that can include suddenly acting out of character. Social
changes occur when an adolescent tries to bond with his or her peers. This is when they
experience peer pressure and do things they would not normally do. Adolescents experience

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almost uncontrollable hormonal behavior that often times come in sudden bursts and this
sometimes drives them to seek sexual pleasure or rebel against authority figures they once had
more respect for. Dramatic changes in behavior occur because adolescents are acting on new and
powerful impulses in a changing body.
Berger (2008) stated, to understand any single adolescent of any age, keep variability in
mind: Although egocentrism is typically evident at the beginning of adolescence, intuition in the
middle, and logic at the end, any one of these forms of cognition may appear in any adolescent at
any time. (p 391)
Peer Relationships
Peer relationships tend to change and evolve rapidly between middle childhood and
adolescence. The majority of these changes are attributed to the school environments in which
children become accustomed. Children and adolescents typically spend between six and eight
hours in school each week day. These hours are spent surrounded by peers and classmates with
whom they interact with on a regular basis. Naturally, both children and teenagers seek the
acceptance and friendship of peers, which is why middle childhood and adolescence are
considered to be two major points of change in peer relationships.
In middle childhood, the comprehension of friendship becomes one of the momentous
factors that influence a child’s peer relations. Friendship is a crucial aspect to the social
development of school aged children. Even school aged children develop a fear of rejection by
peers, which contributes to the need for approval and acceptance. This aspect of peer relations
remains a factor throughout an individual’s entire lifetime. During middle childhood deeper
friendships are formed. Unlike early childhood, friendships during middle childhood become

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