Developmental tasks of adolescents

Developmental tasks of adolescents

The adolescent has to achieve certain attitudes, habits and skills if he / she has to perform as an effective adult in the society.These are called the developmental tasks.

The developmental tasks are the tasks which aeries at or about a certain period in the life of an individual and the successful achievement may lead to happiness and success in the later tasks while failure leads to unhappiness in the individual, disapproval in the society and difficulty with later tasks. The developmental tasks of adolescents are as follows

  • Accepting one’s physique or body as it is.
  • Achieving new and more mature relationships with age mates.
  • Achieving social roles i.e. becoming responsible members of society
  • Achieving values.
  • Preparing for economic career.
  • Preparing for marriage and family life.

Physical Development

Physical development describes the changes which take place in the physiological makeup
of an individual. Physical development is measured by such factors as height,weight, body build, strength, endurance, flexibility, rate of physical maturation,motor skill coordination (eye-hand, eye-foot), physical health, and body composition. Through most of childhood, people grow at a fairly steady pace – about 5–10 cm and 2–3 kg per annum. But with the beginnings of adolescence,most individuals undergo another radical change, often called a growth spurt. In girls, this typically occurs at around age 10 to 13; in boys, it occurs between 12 and 15. Growth is quite rapid compared to earlier in the lifespan – a girl may add around 9 kg in a year, and boys around 11 kg.

Although it sometimes seems that adolescents’ bodies change overnight, the process of sexual maturation actually occurs over a period of several years. The sequence of physical changes is largely predictable, but there is great variability in the age of on set of puberty and the pace at which changes occur.

The Onset of Puberty in Adolescents

Puberty refers to the physiological changes that the adolescent undergoes in order to reach sexual maturity. It is best characterized as the gradual on set of mature reproductive hormonal activity, triggered by the central nervous system,mainly the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.Most people look at puberty in three distinct stages railed the prepubescent, pubescent, and post pubescent. The prepubescent stage includes the first evidence of sexual maturation—primary sexual characteristics—and terminates at the first appearance of pubic hair.During this stage, reproduction is virtually impossible.

During the pubescent stage the growth spurt begins to accelerate,males experience their first emission of semen usually in the form of “wet dreams,” and menarche occurs in the females.The post pub escent stage is characterized by the deceleration of growth spurt, completion of both primary and sexual characteristics, and fertility is possible Amazing as it may seem, sexual maturation is programmable for the primary sexual characteristics to begin their development, the pituitary gland must first releasestimulating agents called gonadotropins into the bloodstream.Once they reach the testes in the male and the ovaries in the female, a number of changes will occur.

There are two gonadotropins:

follicle stimulating hormone(FSH) and luteinizinghorm one (LH). These gonadotropins are present in the adolescent during childhood, but at levels too low for sexual maturation to begin.At the beginning of puberty, the pituitary releases increased amounts of gonadotrop ins while the child is asleep and stops immediately after the child awakens. However, once the child enters the post pubescent stage, gonadotropins are released both during sleep and during the day. In the ovaries, follicle stimulatinghormone is responsible for the development of the follicle which contains a developing ovum(egg). Follicle stimulating hormone also helps produce the female hormone estrogen within the follicle when it is stimulated byluteinizing hormone. In males, FSH incites the growth of seminiferous tubules,which produce spermin the testes. Luteinizinghormone is responsible for producing and rogenmale hormone in the Leydig cells. The androgen that the Leydig cells produce, aids in the growth on the semini ferous tubules.As the adolescent grows older, the pituitary releases increased amounts of gonadotropins, ovaries and the testes grow more rapidly, and produce larger amounts of estrogen and/or androgen.

The Sexual Development of the Adolescence

Adolescent growth first centres on the extremities—the legs and arms during the early stages of adolescence. Changes also occur in the facial configurations of both sexes.

The lower portion of the head begins to grow because the chin lengthens and the nose grows in width and/or length.An additional change in proportion of the face is accredited to changes in tissue distribution. Even though both sexes undergo this change,within females a layer of subcutaneous fat develops which causes the rounding and softening of contours of the face and body.Whereas, the male subcutaneous fat development is much less pronounced, but the development of muscles and bones in the face is clearly seen. This gives the males a leaner and more angular face than the females.

Changes also occur on the surface of the body in both sexes. The most observable change is the growth on body hair, both public and axillary(armpit). The development of pubic hair is the first sign of a child ending the prepubescent stage and entering the pubescent stage. This process begins about the same time as the growth spurt begins, and is in the form of slightlycoarse, straight hairs that grow at the base of the penis and an the labiamajora. The growth of pubic hair continues throughout adolescence, it spreads horizontally and then vertically until it surrounds the genital areas.

Characteristically, pubic hair becomes longer, thicker, darker and kinkier as it spreads
over the genital areas. In males, the growth of facial and chest hair maybe pronounced,
and tends to represent virility in the eyes of the adolescent.Noticeable chest hair,with
a thickness in texture does not usually appear until the post pubescent stage and continues to grow during man hood. Facial hair usually appears in the form of a dark shadow above the lip. Then it appears on the chin, along the jawline, and then develops along the neck. Females may also find small amounts of facial and chest hair.

Both male and female skin undergoes other changes, such as becoming coarser with the sebaceous glands becoming more active, producing oily secretions which usually help cause acne or blackheads. Sweat usually causes an odor in adolescents because the chemistry and composition of sweat is altered by the oils that the sebaceous glands emit.Adolescents also show an increase in their blood pressure, and a decrease in both basalmetabolic rate—the rate at which the body in a resting state (basal) consumes oxygen—and in pulse rate. The table below gives an idea about the various sexual developments occurring during the period of adolescence.

Even though the adolescent’s growth rate varies from child to child, the development of
sexual maturation is as follows:

Developmental tasks of adolescents

Developmental tasks of adolescents


The menstrual cycle is controlled by the hypothalamus,which acts as a menstrual clock. The clock operates through the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland cyclically secretes two hormones which directly stimulate the ovary. These hormones are follicle stimulating and luteinizing hormones.

Luteinizing hormones cause the cells of the follicle to rupture and expel the ovum.Then the fluids and cells forma new structure called the corpus luteum.The corpus luteumis stimulated by the gonadotropins and initiates the production of the hormone, progesterone. Progesterone causes the lining of the uterus to change, thus getting it ready for the reception, embedding, and gestation of a fertilized ovum.The coordinated action of progesterone and estrogen makes the lining of the uterus an environment where an embryo can survive during pregnancy.

Menstruation occurs approximately every three to four weeks. If the ovumis not fertilized,
most of the lining of the uterus mixed with blood is expelled through the cervix into the vagina. This bloody discharge is referred to asmen struation (menses) or amenstrual period.The entire cycle repeats itself with regularity throughout the reproductive life of the female.However, at its onset after puberty,menstruation may be irregular for up to a year or two.

The period of adolescence not only brings physical change but psychological changes that make the child a qualitatively different person.These changes affect the personality and adjustment in later life.