Changes in a teen's physical and cognitive development come with big changes in their
relationships with family and friends. Family relationships are often reorganized
during puberty. Teens want more independence and more emotional distance between them
and their parents. A teen's focus often shifts to social interactions and friendships.
This includes same-sex friends, same-sex groups of friends, and boy/girl groups of
friends. Sexual maturity triggers interest in dating and sexual relationships.
Changes in relationship with self
During the teens, a new understanding of one's self occurs. This may include changes
in these self-concepts:
Independence. This means making decisions for one's self and acting on one's own thought processes
and judgment. Teens start to learn to work out problems on their own. With more
reasoning and intuitive abilities, teens start to face new responsibilities
and to enjoy their own thoughts and actions. Teens start to have thoughts and
fantasies about their future and adult life (for example, college or job training,
work, and marriage).
Identity. This is defined as a sense of self or one's personality. One of the key tasks
of adolescence is to reach a sense of a personal identity and a secure sense
of self. A teen gets comfortable with, and accepts a more mature physical body.
They also learn to use their own judgment, and make decisions on their
own. As these things happen, the teen addresses his or her own problems and starts
to develop a concept of himself or herself. Trouble developing a clear
concept of self or identity occurs when a teen can’t resolve struggles
about who he or she is as a physical, sexual, and independent person.
Self-esteem. This is the feeling one has about one's self. Self-esteem is determined
by answering the question "How much do I like myself?" With the start of adolescence,
a decrease in self-esteem is somewhat common. This is due to the many body changes,
new thoughts, and new ways of thinking about things. Teens are more thoughtful
about who they are and who they want to be. They notice differences in the way
they act and the way they think they should act. Once teens start thinking about
their actions and characteristics, they are faced with how they judge themselves.
Many teens place importance on attractiveness. When teens don’t think they are
attractive, it often causes poor self-esteem. Typically, self-esteem increases once
teens develop a better sense of who they are.
Changes in peer relationships
Teens spend more time with friends. They report feeling more understood and accepted
by their friends. Less and less time is spent with parents and other family members.
Close friendships tend to develop between teens with similar interests, social class,
and ethnic backgrounds. While childhood friendships tend to be based on common activities,
teen friendships expand to include similarities in attitudes, values, and shared activities.
Teen friendships also tend to be based on educational interests. Especially for girls,
close, intimate, self-disclosing conversations with friends help to explore identities
and define one's sense of self. Conversations within these important friendships also
help teens explore their sexuality and how they feel about it. The friendships of
teen boys tend to be less intimate than those of girls. Boys are more prone to form
an alliance with a group of friends who confirm each other's worth through actions
and deeds rather than personal sharing.
Changes in male-female relationships
The shift to male-female and sexual relationships is influenced by sexual interest
and by social and cultural influences and expectations. Social and cultural expectations
and behaviors in male-female or sexual relationships are learned from observations
and practice. During adolescence, developmental tasks include struggles to gain control
over sexual and aggressive urges. And by discovering potential or actual love relationships.
Sexual behaviors during adolescence may include impulsive behavior, a wide range of
experimental interactions of mutual exploring, and eventually intercourse. Biological
differences, and differences in the ways males and females socialize, set the stage
for males and females to have different expectations of sexual and love relationships.
These may influence sexual experiences and may also have consequences for later sexual
behavior and partnerships. In time, having a mutually satisfying sexual partnership
within a love relationship may be found.
Changes in family relationships
One of the developmental tasks of adolescence is to separate from one's family as
one emerges into an independent young adult. A part of this process is coming to terms
with specific feelings about one's family. During adolescence, teens start to realize
that their parents and significant authority figures don’t know everything or have
solutions to all types of struggles. Some teenage rebellion against parents is common
and normal. With the start of puberty, girls tend to have more disagreements with
their mothers. Boys, especially those who mature early, also tend to have more disagreements
with their mothers than with their fathers. While over time disagreements often decrease,
relationships with mothers tend to change more than relationships with fathers. As
adolescents become more independent from their parents, they are more likely to turn
to their peers for advice.