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Theories of The Development of Adolescents

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The years of adolescence for an individual can certainly be an interesting time in their life. From the embarrassing 6th grade school photos that are filled with acne and crooked teeth, to barely knowing how to play soccer yet somehow finding a spot on the team at the start of high school, to starting to feel all the warm and fuzzies with your first love senior year. These times are fun and awkward and terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. Kids are growing both physically and mentally as they become young adults right before their parents’ eyes. As a mom or dad, there is no instruction manual for your children growing up, and most of the time you probably have no idea what to expect. Kids get moody and confused and sad and excited, sometimes even all at once. Figuring out how to handle these times can be difficult as parents, but it does not have to be.

One theory that makes development easier to understand is Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Stages. He separates development into 5 stages: oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage, and genital stage. The oral stage occurs from birth to 18 months of age. In this stage, the infant’s pleasure comes from the mouth. The anal stage is next, and it occurs from 1 and a half to 3 years. As the name states, pleasure is found from the anus in this stage. After the anal stage comes the phallic stage from ages 3 to 6 in which pleasure focuses on the genitals. The fourth stage is the latency stage which occurs from 6 years to puberty. In this stage the child focuses more on social skills and less on sexual interest. The final stage is the genital stage, which takes place from puberty on. The genital stage is a time of sexual awakening, and it is the first time when a child begins to look for sexual pleasure outside of their family. Freud used this theory to prove that experiences later in life have to do with things that occurred in one’s earlier years.

Another theory that helps to understand development is Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory. This theory presents 4 stages of development that explain how individuals adapt to and organize their experiences. The first stage is sensorimotor which lasts from birth to 2 years of age. In this stage, children combine sensory and motor skills to understand the new and confusing world that they are surrounded by. The second stage is preoperational which takes place from 2 to 7 years of age. In this stage children begin to integrate words, images, and drawings into the other skills that they developed to understand the world in the previous sensorimotor stage. The next stage is concrete operational which lasts from about 7 to 11 years of age. In this stage, kids really begin to understand how things around them in a logical way, and they become better at using objects, not just their own abilities to do so. The final stage of this theory is formal which begins at age 11 and continues through adulthood. This is when individuals really begin to think in abstract ways and truly understand the world around them.

This theory is so beneficial in helping understand development because there rarely are instances where individuals do not follow these stages and its findings, making it reliable.

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