According to Erik Erikson (1994), the psychological developmental stage during adolescence is Identity vs. Role Confusion (ages 12-18). This is when this age group is becoming preoccupied with themselves and their bodies changing. This is also when they want to increase their independence and start to develop a sense of self. During this transitional phase from childhood to adulthood, adolescent is trying to figure themselves out and is influenced by social groups greater at this time and will experiment more with their identity (Erikson, 1994).

This period of life can be broken down into developmental tasks. The tasks of acceptance of the biological role (identifying with a gender), struggle to become comfortable with one’s sexuality (sexual functioning and sexual orientation), choice of an occupational and social identity (what to do with life), and struggle toward independence. Life tasks are similar to Erikson’s (1994) developmental model. These both point out the struggles in adolescence to find out who they are inside and out, learn how to be comfortable with who they are, and struggle with wanting more independence.

At this stage, they struggle more to control urges and can be more impulsive and risk-taking. Rebellion at this stage is common, and caretakers’ reactions can impact this developmental stage. With this information, the societal paradox of “do what I say/you need to learn to do this on your own” is common in our society’s adolescent experience. Feeling ready, feeling afraid, and being told two different expectations. This has caregivers asking themselves, what can I do?

Parenting, supervision, and communication are helpful factors in building and sustaining relationships in this age group. We cannot punish behavior that we want to see (Example: They come out of their room to watch TV with the family, caregiver responds with, “Oh look who decided to leave their room!), and have the encouragement of who they are as a person vs what they are producing (Example: Measuring a letter grade vs acknowledging the drive, curiosity, hard work that was put into a class). This is also allowing them to find out who they are without punishment with reasonable behaviors (dress, interests, trying new sports/groups). Without open communication, appropriate independence, reasonable consequences, proper parental supervision, and a parenting plan, an adolescent will have higher rates of rebellion and struggles in this age of development.

If you or your adolescent need help navigating this period of life, please get in touch with Good Therapy’s team of licensed professional counselors and therapists today at 630-473-3971.