This study would like to focus on the development of a male adolescent in terms of psychological, physical, social, cognitive, emotional and spiritual domain spheres. Observation was conducted in the school for a period of one week while this boy was with his friend and classmates doing some school projects and having fun. I, being the researcher, had stayed if not too close at least near enough to get considerable facts and information about the boy as needed in the study. The researcher tried to connect apparent behavior to theoretical explanations as to verify some factors that affect the development of the behavior.
Likewise, it also tries to explain how each domain influence the development of other domains; for instance, how cognitive affect the emotional development, or how psychological aspect influence the spiritual growth of a person. The adolescent boy in this study is a resident of Colombia, South America; he showed a violent behavior typical of Colombian residents. A violent behavior is evident as he is usually involved in a frequent fighting, threatening other person with a knife and bullying other people in the school and in his neighborhood; he commits self-inflicted harm, smoking and drinking, and usually accompanied by illicit drugs.
The boy stays with a group of peers who manifest the same behavior. Although, they attend school regularly but the group habitually come close together to attend to personal interest such as eating together, going out of the school together, and in bullying other students. When I requested for a one-on-one interview, the boy did not hesitate to participate but openly answered all the questions I asked him to answer. The interview was conducted with consent from parents since it was done at home. The main subject of the interview revolved around the personality and behavioral attributes of the interviewee.
However, other factors that contributed to the development of the personality were subsequently considered. Some of the information he gave are important to give light for the causes or reasons for his behavior. Some of those causes are: (1) the availability of drugs in the community, (2) personal preference for viewing violent programs on television, (3) he was a victim of violence himself because he used to be bullied as a little boy by older children in his community. The boy also grew with financial deprivation that his family experienced. The community out of that social problem created a norm that served as a model to the youth.
The boy has complete family members with both parents working for a living. On issues whether he committed violent act against another person to the point of hitting someone or criminal activity, his response is negative. Currently, this boy has not yet afflicted physical harm to anybody, though the gangs he is in has been into trouble occasionally. Psychological Development The subject narrated his childhood days. He remembered that both of his parents because of financial crisis were both working. He learned to live independently to take care of his younger siblings.
There was no model to show him parental care during several crises that he used to encounter daily. There were bullying times that he recalled because no parents could go to school to defend him. Sanford Weinstein (1995) stated, “In situations where parental response is disturbed, inconstant or minimal, life may be sustained, but not without irreparable damage” (p. 9). This is an indication according to Weinstein that lack of parental guidance; children are exposed to neglect, abuse, and sometime erratic care that usually developed negative behavioral problem, which may be no recovery.
Furthermore, Marc Bornstein (2002) stressed, “the maternal deprivation perspective posits that when the mother is no longer the primary caregiver deprivation occurs and children’s development suffers as a consequence” (p. 209). This perspective according to Bornstein is derived from psychoanalytic view of family functioning in the mother and child relationship, which in the end affect the psychological development of the child. The consequence as mentioned above has been proven in the life of the boy in this study.
Instead of loving parents, he witnessed several times his parents quarrel over many marital issues, though that did not end in broken marriage. He developed inferiority complex in elementary grade because of inadequate attention from parents, teachers, and schoolmates. This resulted to the development of isolation crisis and later identity crisis, which occurred in his late childhood days. As the boy entered the adolescent period, his longing for friends grew stronger because he tried to fight his feeling of insecurity and uselessness.
He found the answer to his psychological problems because he found affiliation in the company of gang friends. His association with these people gave him a sense of identity despite the society’s rejection of them. Alcohol use and smoking would give them a sense of independence and being belonged to a group. Identity crisis according to Oldham, Skodol, and Bender (2005) is usually experienced as young people gain awareness of themselves and accurate perceptions of others. This has to be resolved at this point in the life of an adolescent because if not, this will be a potential harm in the development of his maturation (p. 74).
However, they also emphasized that peer relationship does not provide a person an opportunity to achieve personality maturation but only on the account of reinforcing self-perception. Likewise, if a sense of belongingness and security are experienced in the presence of friends or peers, the child is likely to have to little foundations for any cognitive structure of self that would allow the child to develop and integrate both positive and negative self-evaluations and they encounter “interpersonal difficulties that may accumulate over time” (p. 75).
These interpersonal difficulties according to Oldham Skodol and Bender is a result of the deficits in the child’s healthy physical, mental, and emotional development during infancy up to the early and late childhood development. This is true with boy I observed because the more he finds belongingness with his peers; the more he deviates from the social norms of interpersonal relationships. Physical Development The physical developments toward maturity of my subject have been hampered by the economic situation of the family.
Both his parents had to be away from home to work in order to make both ends meet for the family. This situation deprived their children of the basic parental care or the so-called child rearing and nurturing experience. Weinstein stressed, “Developmental processes give strength and push us toward maturity” (p. 9) Weinstein explained that as physical development is taking place, helplessness and dependence reduce, as it shore up personal independence and social interdependence.
Weinstein emphasized that healthy child rearing results to healthy physical growth and instills physical discipline, which can be a valuable tool for the child’s psychological growth and development that “create powerful striving for emotional separation and individuality” (p. 9). In this case, separation should not be confused with moving away and individuality with selfishness. Separation and individuality are two important building blocks for growth toward healthy adulthood and they are inevitable as adolescents’ demands greater privacy.
The issue on separation is therefore very important to be resolved well, as it will lead to violence and destructiveness when not handled properly. By separating, adolescents can freely express themselves in a manner they want especially when they have their own room. This is important because their age is the stage when, identity crises are strong. When this issue is not resolved well, this could lead to the loss of status and threatened self-esteemed. Social Development Social development is one of the most and often affected areas of child development when there is something that goes wrong with child rearing and care.
Stella Chess, Alexander Thomas, and Margaret Hertzig (1998) stated that the child’s social development is manifested by social skill, social behavior, task orientation, and social interactions (p. 146). The behavior of my subject adolescent demonstrates poor social development. Chess, Thomas, and Hertzig noted in their study, that children that had experienced childcare appear to be more socially skilled than their home reared peers as shown by their more “advanced perspective-taking skills, cooperative behavior, task orientation, and confidence in social interactions” (Chess, Thomas, & Hertzig 1998, p. 146).
The boy’s experience of bullying by others with out adult guardian on his side to defend him and to care for him had created violent social behavior that often led him into confrontation with others to the point of threatening others with a knife. His action to join peers with the same behavior reflects his inability to have social interactions with others. He joined peers with the same manifested behavior because he can relate with them, but he cannot with others that do not exhibit the same behavior. His tendency is to withdraw from the rest and isolate himself if he cannot find the same peers with him.
The boy also exhibited poor perspective-taking skills as his outlook in life is blurred and he likes hanging around with his peers. Cognitive Development Any adolescent with healthy childcare experience, he or she certainly posses interpersonal skills and other positive traits that makes him or her confident in dealing with problems, or with other person’s behavior. Douglas Davies (2004) affirmed that cognitive development gained through unstructured play helps the child to have “better understanding of others’ emotions as well superior mental abilities” (p. 276).
Davies cited they also show better comprehensions of the links between mental states, intentions, and actions, which translates into acute perceptions of relationships, and reality. Cognitive development involves physical domain of a person as it affects the maturation of the brain. Likewise, the brain development of an adolescent is closely associated with his or her behavioral and emotional development. The different domains therefore are interconnected with each other. Any development that takes place in the brain provides explanation to the differing behavior of these people.
As a person gets into adolescent period, some changes happen in the brain that results to change in the behavior of a teenager. For instance, the ratio of white-to-gray matter in the brain prepares the person to emotional, intellectual, and behavioral growth such as changes in arousal and motivation brought on puberty period. During this stage, every adolescent attains more fully conscious, self-directed and self-regulating mind; thus, he gains improvement in reasoning, information processing, expertise, etc.
He develops interest in intellectual development, self-regulation, and personal improvement; decision-making and risk-taking; and, logical competence. This takes place because the nerve fibers that connect different regions in the brain increase, and that each region shows remarkable changes. The changes that happen in the brain caused the boy to rationalize on every event that happened to him as well as to react on his environment while he gains consciousness of himself particularly self-assessment and self-evaluation.
Laurence Steinberg from the Department of Psychology in Temple University in Philadelphia mentioned that along with the cognitive development, culture plays a critical role in the shaping of cognitive and brain development (p. 2). This is because he gains understanding of himself as he rationalizes on things around him; this includes of course the boy’s childhood experiences including opportunities that enhanced his understanding of himself such as playing. The boy realized his need for companion to establish his own identity. He began to seek the happiness that could fulfill his longing in the midst of financial problems.
The society where he grew with gave him the idea that this is probably the best place for him, where he would be accepted. Steinberg noted, “Their [adolescent] reasoning about real-life problems is often not as advanced as their reasoning about hypothetical dilemmas” (p. 4). This is evidence why the boy has consciousness of life but his realization is not matured yet. Also, because of the ongoing changes in the brain, irrational behavior are observed such as he accepts faulty reasoning, show reckless behavior, sensation-seeking behavior, etc. which are the effects of pubertal stage. Emotional Development The development of the cognitive aspect also affects the emotional growth of the person as an effect of the development in the brain. At this point in time, adolescent’s greatest longing in life is a sense of identity because this involves the person’s ability to relate and cope up with stress and manage emotions. Correct self-image gives an adolescent the will and security to explore the unknown, which is a sign of his cognitive development.
Spencer Rathus explained, “Social and emotional development also tends to change dramatically” as cognitive development blossoms (p. 117). Furthermore, he noticed some involvement of these young people to violence, drug abuse, suicide attempts, and pregnancy for women because of risk behavior associated with the biological changes in their body. Rathus cited a research evidence, which suggests hormonal changes affect activity levels, mood swings, and aggressive tendencies, but that socio-cultural influences have a greater effect (p. 18). In addition, the youth’s striving for independence is also an effect of biological changes that takes place in them. Their choice of staying away from family and be with their friends signaled their intention to have independent life. Spiritual Development Lynn Rew cited a model created by Batten and Oltjenbruns, which represents adolescent spiritual development. The model explained that spiritual development is a result of “a person’s quest to understand the meaning of his life” (p. 71).
Thus, an adolescent would turn to consider the spiritual aspect of his life as he begins to realize the need for real meaning of his life. In this case, it is important that a person must come to a point of choosing what could really determine his self-fulfillment. The boy has chosen a life of violence that totally deprived him of enjoying happiness in involving in religious matters and personal relationship with God. The diagram shows that, spiritual development is a result of cognitive awareness of self and religious involvement since childhood.
This shows that if a person has no religious involvement in the past, there is possibility that he or she would not seek the meaning of his life. Conclusion An adolescent responds both to internal and external factors that influence his behavior. Internal factors involve the development of the different domain of his personality while external factors are the learning he got from his experiences. These factors shape the way he responds to situation because out of those intervening variables the person formulates an understanding of how he should behave and think.
The boy in the study is a good example of an adolescent who had exposure to violence and discrimination brought by the society. His cognitive development dictates his emotion, social, and spiritual what he wants to be like. Nonetheless, it is still important that in the development of an adolescent, parental guidance and care must abound to give him the right model to choose. A sixteen-year old boy does not have the capability to accurately rationalize knowing that he has the risk behavior that dictates him what to choose or do.