Adolescent Psychology

Adolescents and Siblings
by Kate Hockersmith

Fighting is common among adolescents and their siblings. But that’s only one way they can communicate. There’s also helping, sharing, teaching, and playing. A study found that an average of 10 hours a week is spent with a sibling. When favoritism happens between siblings, it can cause a low self-esteem and sadness in the less favored.
Someone close in age, like a sibling, can understand the adolescent’s problems and can communicate better than the parents. However, high conflict between siblings can be detrimental, especially when ineffective parenting is also present. This is shown (between 10-12) to be linked to antisocial behavior and poor peer relationships. In addition, another study found that increased sibling conflict could be linked to increased depression.
Siblings spend way less time together when they near adulthood. Mixed feelings are still common, but when siblings move out of the house, contact with their brothers/sisters becomes more optional and their relationships become less emotionally tense.
Firstborns are, according to a recent review, the most intelligent, achieving, and conscientious, while later-borns are the most rebellious, liberal, and agreeable . They are also more adult-oriented, helpful, conforming, and self-controlled. However, overall, later-borns have better peer relationships. Middle-borns tend to be more diplomatic, sometimes performing the role of negotiator during fights. The “baby” tends to run the risk of becoming dependent.
Researchers have discovered that sibling temperament traits, as well as favoritism-like treatment by parents, influence how siblings get along. Siblings with “easy” temperaments that are treated equally tend to get along best. The opposite can be said for differential treatment with “difficult” siblings.

Santrock, John W. Adolescence. 13th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2010. Print.

Adopted Adolescents
by Haley Kistler

The period of adolescence is challenging for every teen, but many adopted adolescents face unique challenges during this time. Every adopted child comes with a past, both bad and good, which affects the teen years in different ways.


*Identity: every teen struggles to find who they are as an individual (their beliefs, appearance, interests). Adopted teens have the added challenge of having no blood relations to compare themselves to. They may feel disconnected from their adoptive parents because they don't look or act like them (especially in trans-racial adoptions). They may also search for their birth parents to better understand their own identity

*Developmental delays: experts disagree as to how much adoption affects the emotional and psychological health of the adolescent. Living in institutions and foster homes during childhood can have an affect on teens, but how severely the teen is affected depends on the individual and their adoptive family.
*29% of domestically adopted boys were diagnosed with ADHD, compared with 8% of non-adopted teens and 19% international
*15 % of domestically adopted boys had conduct disorder, compared with 6% of non-adoptees and 8% of international adoptees

*Abandonment: adopted teens are less likely to desire autonomy (leaving home) than their non-adopted peers. Many are afraid of losing their adoptive parents like they've lost their birth parents.

*Abuse and Neglect: children adopted at an older age, are more likely to have a history of neglect or abuse or find it difficult to attach to parent-figures after being placed in several foster-homes. Teens who've suffered from traumatic pasts need the help of both their adoptive parents and a therapist.

How Can Parents Help?

Parents should have a system of open communication with their adopted children from the beginning. Through open communication, teens will feel more inclined to talk about their unique struggles. Many experts suggest that parents start talking about adoption to their child early on, realizing that their child may have concerns (related to adoption) that they will have to deal with in the future.

Adolescence is a challenging time for everyone, adopted teens included. The adopted teen may or may not have more struggles than their non-adopted counterparts. But for those who do have a tougher time, they are still able to face and overcome those issues with love and attention from their parents.

Works Cited

Parents and their influence on adolescents
By April Brown

• 31% of teens say parents influence their decisions most about sex
• Only 24% of parents think they are the most influential in their teen’s lives
• 7.1% of kids have had sex before they are 13
• 60% of teens having sex regret their first time, wish they’d waited, wish they’d listened to their parents.
• 90% of parents say they’ve had a successful and good level of conversation about sex with their child
• 71% of teens say they have had a helpful conversation about sex with their parents.
• In a study of 700 adolescents, 58% were having sex, but only 31% of their mothers believed they were.
• Teens who reported having a greater relationship with their mom were less likely to become sexually active

Teens are crying out everywhere for their parents to take the time to talk to them about sex. Just turn on the TV and you will see a “talk to me” commercial. Contradictory to what parents think their kids actually listen to them. Study after study shows that most children and adolescents turn to their parents for advice and for counseling. Focus on the Family says that even if they look like they aren’t listening and don’t care (and they are probably rolling their eyes), they really are listening and storing that information in the memory to pull out later. They have a “vacant, glazed-over look.” But parents, get brave… you must get over this, your teen is probably listening.
Most parents find it to be intimidating and even “scary” to talk to their kids about sex, almost like it’s a forbidden word. Many believe that if they don’t talk about it that their kids will live in this fairyland where it doesn’t exist. Many believe that by giving the talk about the “birds and the bees” will only enhance their desire to test the waters. Researchers, however, say that adolescents are less likely to participate in sexual activities if they are instructed by their parents. They go on to say, don’t give your talk in one big, long, boring talk; break it up. Bring up small topics randomly about sex and sexual activities. Don’t just throw it all on them at once.
Ultimately, parents affect children, in everything they do. Each adolescent can see a little bit of their parents inside of them, and even if they say they hate it, majority of them wouldn’t change it. So parents, talk to your kids: teens, Listen!

Some “talking tips” for parents:
• Even if your child is making faces, they are more than likely listening
• It is not as awkward for most teens as you think
• Define the word “sex” to your child, make sure you are on the same page
• Set boundaries, even if they argue them, it shows you care
• Have small talks
• Earn the trust of your teen, while they earn yours
• Allow teens to make decisions, but be there along the way
• If your teen fails, handle the situation with grace and maturity; they are looking to you for strength
• Discuss your childhood with your parents
• Clearly convey your values
• Spend time with your child
• Don’t back down on your rules and don’t be pushed around
• Practice what you preach!
• Present facts
• Make sure they know you love them
• Show them you trust them by allowing them their privacy, but have an open relationship
• Expand your knowledge on the issues at hand
• Discuss other issues other than sex: porn, drinking, drugs, swearing… let them know you want them living a healthy lifestyle
• Don’t be stiff and scary and serious…it just makes them more nervous
All teens go through this stage, and all need your help. There isn’t a set age at which they become interested in the opposite sex, but it is certain to happen. So be prepared and mature, no matter what curveball they throw your way.
Work cited
Clayton, Victoria. Tackling the Topic of Teen Sex. Growing Up Healthy. January 19, 2005.
Kim, Christine C. Teen Sex: The Parent Factor. Backgrounder: No. 2194. The Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC. October 7, 2008.
Klepacki, Linda. What Your Teens Need to Know about sex. Focus on the Family.
Talking to Teens About Sex. Teens and Sex.
Teen Birth Rate Up for Second Year in a Row. Parenting Teens Resource Network.

Parenting Styles
By Bailey Brown

Parents influence their children in many different ways, and especially during their teen years. During these years kids choose to do a lot of things they shouldn’t. If parents were more involved with their child’s life then they would choose better paths to follow. Most parents feel that their teen does not want anything to do with them, so they avoid it. They truly do want their parents to be involved though, it makes a difference in their lives. In this essay I want to touch on the different parenting styles and discuss which one I think is most efficient.

The First parenting style I want to talk about is Authoritarian. This type of parent is very strict on their child. They make all the rules, and usually don’t give the kid any say in the decision. They also, can get very upset when their teen does not perform at the level they have set. The child is not able to question what the parent is saying; if they do the answer is “Because I said so.” This can be good for children because it keeps them on a straight path. I do know though that during my teen years anything my parents said not to do I did. Even if I know that punishment would suck, I still did it for the fun. Most teens would do the same thing. Also, these teens will not ever learn to think for themselves. If their parents always make ever choice, and never even let them help it will affect them long term. These kids will also be poor decision makers, which will make it hard to carry out every day decisions.

Second there are permissive parents. These type of parents are exactly opposite from the Authoritarian. Permissive parents don’t take any role in their child’s life. They little rules, if any at all. The rules that they do establish are usually broken, or changed a lot. The parent wants to feel like they are being their kids’ friend. They are still trying to be a parent, but don’t want to control their kid. They feel that if the let their teen make the decisions that they will be better off, and they will learn on their own. And that may be true, but they still need boundaries. Even if they don’t want to be mean about it they still need to enforce some boundaries so their teen can learn to follow directions and orders. This type of teen will learn to make bad choices because they have never seen a decision be made. This will lead them to always think everything can go their way. If they never get punished they will get in a lot more trouble, because they know they can get away with it.

Authoritative is the last style of parenting, which is usually promoted the most. These parents like to include their child in the rules that they set. These parents set rules and follow them, and the child is fully aware. If the child breaks the rules then the parent discusses with them what they did wrong, and what needs to be done to fix it. These children are usually better off, because they have been taught boundaries. They know if a rule is broken they will see consequences. This will help them later in life, in school and work. At work they will know that they need to follow the rules or they will be fired. In school they will get punishment by the teacher or principle. These things will help the teens as they progress through life, which is why this method is supported the most.

My parents were Authoritative. I did do a lot of things that I should not have done when I was a teen, but I learned from them. My parents made rules, and told me the consequences if I chose not to follow them. My mom talked to me a lot about different things that I should not do. For instance like drugs, my mom works in a hospital and sees the effects of drugs every day. She told me a lot of things that were hard to hear, but I have not touched any drug ever in my life for that reason. She told me the truth, and she let me ask questions. On the drinking subject my mom did the same thing, and she told me what could happen. She always told me if I decided to drink to never drive, and no matter how drunk, or far away I was to always call if I needed a ride. I will say that she held true to this statement, and I never did get in trouble, but I was safe and I learned my lessons on my own. When my mom talked to me about sex she told me all the details and problems with it. She never once told me no or not to do it. When I started dating my boyfriend of four years now my mom put me on birth control. I thank her so much today for doing that. She knew I was going to do these things and her way of dealing with it was to make sure I knew the proper ways to protect myself if I chose to do so.

In conclusion I feel that there can be many different ways to parent. Some are better for others, and that depends on the parent. My favorite way would be authoritative, because I feel it is the most rewarding style for a teen. It lets us explore our boundaries, but know our rules. These life lessons will help us in our everyday lives, and decision making. I feel I learned from all of my mistakes on my own. My parents were there to guide me but let me experience things on my own.

By: Alyssa Mustard

Across the United States the parenting styles today are different for every family. There are four different types of parenting styles which are; the authoritarian parent, authoritative, neglectful, and the indulgent parents. The authoritarian parent is the restrictive parent with firm limits and allow little verbal exchange between them and their child. The authoritative parent encourages their children to be independent but they put a few rules on the line for them, they give them some restrictions. Neglectful parenting, the parent is very uninvolved with their adolescents life. With neglectful parents their children feel like the parents’ lives are more important than they are. The last type of parenting styles is the indulgent parent, they are very involved with their adolescents but place little to no limits on them. As a child coming from indulgent parents they never learn how to control their behavior and always expect to get it their way.

Arguing with parents is apart of everyday life. Most if not all adolescents have conflicts with their parents. Conflicts with parents increase in early adolescence. Most disagreements are mother-daughter arguments. The average length of the arguments is eleven minutes. Much of the conflicts involve the everyday events of family such as keeping the bedroom clean, curfew, the everyday chores.

As an only child I had authoritative parents, I was always encouraged to be independent but my parents had their rules that I had to follow. As I was debating where to go to college my parents gave their input but always let me make the final decision. Most of my conflicts with my parents are always between my mom and I, my dad and I rarely argue. My parents are still together and we have almost the typical american family the only difference is, is that I am an only child. Even though my parents are still together, the word divorce has come across their minds. A statistic showed that eighty percent of adults concluded that their parents’ decisions to divorce was a wise one. If I were asked if the idea of my parents getting a divorce would be a good idea, I’d have to say yes. The long arguments that we have faced as a family cause so many more problems than just being happy individuals. No matter the problems my parents face as a couple I have never doubted the love that they have for me. As an emerging adult my parents let me make my own decisions about where I wanted to go to college. My mom wanted me to have every chance to do what I want and go where ever I wanted. No matter the conflicts I face as an adult I know that I can turn to my parents for anything.

Family Divorces
By: Kurtis Baker

The United States has one of the highest divorce rates. Divorce is becoming more and more popular and is an issue many young teens and kids have to deal with. Forty percent of children born to married parents will experience their parents divorce. Twenty-five percent of children from divorced families had emotional problems. Adolescent girls with divorced parents were vulnerable to developing depressive symptoms. Eighty percent of adults concluded that their parents’ decisions to divorce was a wise one. Not only are parents divorcing more, they are also getting remarried more and more. About half of all children whose parents divorce will remarry in the within the next four years. There are three types of stepfamilies; the stepfather, stepmother and a blended family. Blended families both parents bring children from previous marriages to live in the newly formed stepfamily.

Divorce and remarriage is something I have had to deal with as an adolescent. When I was in high school my parents got divorced and by the time I graduated my mother had remarried. Along with a new stepdad that was brought into my life, i also got two step siblings. My step sister is 19 and lives by herself and my step brother is 17 and stays at my house every other weekend. With all these new faces walking around my house it took some getting used to, but now that it is normal to me I wouldn’t have it any other way. I value the relationships I have made with my new family member as see them as part of my family now. In addition to my mother getting remarried, my father has also found a new girlfriend that I see periodically. The only difficult times for me is when holidays come around. Holidays get very hectic and busy just because I have to shuttle back and forth from different houses.

In conclusion, the experience I went through as a adolescent has shaped me into what I am today and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My new family, or should I say families, are very special to me and I am glad I have experienced this. I would say most people and kids would see divorce and blended families as a negitive thing, but for me it wasn’t an unpleasant time.

By: Courtney Bloski

Sexuality is defined as how people experience and express themselves as sexual beings (feelings and behavior).Sexuality can be describe in three different ways; anatomic sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. Anatomic sex refers to the sex organs in which a person is born with. Meaning you are either a boy (penis and testicles) or a girl (breasts, uterus, vagina and ovaries). Gender identity is based on feelings. It relates to how a person feels inside. It could be whether you “feel” like a boy or a girl. And finally, sexual orientation begins once you hit puberty. It is the strong physical and emotional attractions to others. There are three different types of attraction; heterosexual (attracted to the opposite sex), homosexual (attracted to the same sex) and bisexual (attracted to both sexes). Many different factors influence a person’s sexual orientation including the society you live in, gender identity and anatomic sex. There are also a few other factors but they are not completely understood.

"All adolescents have sex lives, whether they are sexually active with others, with themselves, or seemingly not at all," and viewing adolescent sexuality as a potentially positive experience, rather than as something inherently dangerous, may help young people develop healthier patterns and make more positive choices regarding sex”-Ponton, Lynn (2000). The Sex Lives of Teenagers. New York: Dutton.

The world of sex is exciting to teens and they are anxious to explore it. The media plays a major role in influencing the teen populations’ interest in sexuality. From t.v shows, magazines, movies, billboard and music, sexuality has become the center piece of advertising and pulling people into buy, watch, or listen to what is being sold. Today more than 80% of movies have sexual content. 60% of today’s music videos portray sexual behavior and body movements. The media portrays sexuality in a very positive light. There is not much talk about the potential risks and consequences of sex. The two main risks and consequences of sex are getting pregnant or contracting a disease, such as an STD or HIV. The united states of American has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world. 1/3 of America’s teens become pregnant before the age of 20. And 25% of teens and 13% of adolescents who are sexually active become infected with a sexually transmitted disease each year. This works out to be about 3 million cases a year

There are two types of sex education that children receive in school. Depending on the beliefs of the school determines which method is taught. The first method of teaching is the “Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Program. This program strongly emphasizes abstinence from all sexual behaviors. It doesn’t teach children information on contraceptives, STD’s, masturbation etc. Because the school doesn’t cover all areas of sexuality it then becomes the parent’s job and responsibility to fill in any grey areas or questions the child may have. The second method of teaching is Comprehensive Sexuality Education. This education starts in kindergarten and continues through high school. It brings up topics appropriate for the age level of the children. This program covers a very broad area of information. If a child is receiving this type of information a parents may be concerned that their child knows too much, but it is better to have well educated than not educated at all.

Teen Suicide (Warning Signs)


Mikaela Reiff

Teen suicide is a very real problem in the United States and much more common than you might expect. The sad thing is many time the suicide could have been prevented, if someone had just noticed the warning signs. Part of this is paying attention to what’s going on in the teenager’s life and knowing how they feel and the thing’s they’re doing. The other part is recognizing when something is going wrong. If any of the warning signs listed below are noticed, it’s important to take them seriously.

Warning Signs of Teen Suicide

  • Disinterest in favorite extracurricular activities
  • Problems at work and losing interest in a job
  • Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug (illegal and legal drugs) use
  • Behavioral problems
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Sleep changes
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Begins to neglect hygiene and other matters of personal appearance
  • Emotional distress brings on physical complaints (aches, fatigues, migraines)
  • Hard time concentrating and paying attention
  • Declining grades in school
  • Loss of interest in schoolwork
  • Risk taking behaviors
  • Complains more frequently of boredom
  • Does not respond as before to praise

It’s important to remember that not all of these signs are for sure indicators that a teen is thinking about, or planning, a suicide. Sometimes the individual could just be going through a hard time, but regardless if more than one of these are present and are constant over a two week period, it’s important to seek help. The best way to prevent a teen suicide is to talk and ask questions.


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