Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry, fear, tension, etc., that can be mild or severe. It is the body’s natural response to stress which may happen thinking negative consequences of an event. Becoming anxious is normal but if it lasts for long and impacts your work life, personal life, social life, health, etc., it is called anxiety disorder.
Stress may lead to anxiety or anxiety may create stress on a person.
Family or relationship problem
Changes in personality
Compulsive and repetitive behavior
Extreme unwarranted fear of a particular situation or things
If one or more of the above signs are observed then the person may be suffering by an anxiety disorder.
Effect of anxiety disorder
Long-term chronic anxiety may trigger several health problems; some of these are as follows:
A headache or and body ache
Long-term anxiety may release some chemical like adrenaline in the body which creates problems like pulse rate increase, short breathing, and other problem.
So anxiety is a mental health disorder and requires proper care. For longterm chronic anxiety consultation also needed.
Chronic anxiety impacts our physical and mental health. Chronic anxiety can be reduced by creating a positive environment, motivating, taking a break, creating a secure atmosphere, counseling, changing lifestyle, etc. Still, if there is no improvement observed, a psychiatric consultant should be visited.
Anything that poses a challenge or threat to the wellbeing of your child due to pressure, tension, and insecurity is stress. Stress affects physical health, mental health as much as social life. However, whether the stress can hurt their body and social life, depends greatly on their response on it. So here some stress management tips for your children.
What is stress:
Stress is a normal and necessary part of life. Different children react differently to a stressful event. All the stress experiences are not negative there are positive stresses too. If an event took place in anybody’s life, the person starts to characterize the event with positive or negative color. If the child takes the event negatively starts thinking about the consequences, become insecure and starts feeling stressed. Stress last for a long time is called chronic stress, can affect their study in school, relationship with peers and family.
While we want to eliminate negative stress from our children’s lives, we also have to keep positive stress intact. Without it, life will be dull and unsuccessful. So relief from all type of stress is not the best goal.
It is a positive and healthy stress hence desirable also. For example winning games, upcoming exams, or accomplishing a challenge.
A very short-term type of stress, either positive or negative. This type stresses are very common in children.
This type of stresses seems to be never-ending. Taking too many responsibilities, overwork, a death of closure one are the example of chronic stress. This type of stress is actually a big threat to child well-being.
Causes of stress in children:
There are too many reasons for stress, it actually depends on the child’s mental structure, background, historical fact, etc. Some of the common reasons are as follows:
Divorce or separation of parents.
The demise of a family member.
The birth new baby.
The pressure of school work.
Tests or examination.
Fear of failure.
Effects of stress:
Effects of stress are observed on the physical health, mental health, and behavior of the child as well as there are physical stress, emotional stress, behavioral stress, and cognitive stress. Details are as follows:
Diarrhea, perspiration, having a nightmare, rapid breathing, headache, backache, muscle tension and stiffness, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, weakness, sweaty hand, skin breakouts such as hives and eczema, frequent cold, etc. are the signs of physical stress.
Lack of happiness, depression, anger, crying, irritability, jealous, nightmare, insomnia, changes in eating habits (Either increased or decreased), often confused about situations, moodiness, restlessness, short temper, impatience, feeling tense, or feeling overwhelmed, sense of loneliness and isolation are general sign of emotional stress.
Nervous habits such as nail biting or pacing, appetite problem, lack of energy, being clingy, sleeping too much or too little, procrastination, neglecting responsibilities, teeth grinding or jaw clenching, overdoing activities, overreacting to unexpected problems, picking a fight with others are the common signs of behavioral stress.
Trouble in thinking clearly, inability to concentrate, poor judgment, seeing only the negative, anxious and racing thoughts, constant worrying, loss of objectivity, and fearful anticipation are the common signs of cognitive stress.
Managing the stress of your child should be well planned. Teaching your child to manage stress will benefit him or her entire life. It will help your child to avoid a lot of problems easily. Sometimes mismanagement of stress makes your child drug addicted. So here are some effective ways to manage the stress of your child:
Teach your child to manage relationship management:
We can get a lot from a good relationship. Now relationship management skill is considered one of the most important criteria for job recruitment. Proper management of relationship makes life easy. If relation will be managed if following components of the relationship will be managed:
If you love people you will look at them beyond their negative and will focus on the positive. Every human being has some goodness in them. Expect the best in people. Great people are found with the following qualities in their personalities:
Forgiveness: It is a great ability to forgive someone who did wrong with you. Teach your child to let go of the past and get on the present by forgiving them who has hurt them. The people in the past can not hurt them unless they allow to do it. Life is too short to hold a grudge.
Courtesy: Treat people as they would like to be treated. Courtesy is good manners and polite behaviors. To make your child understand an old saying is most relevant that ‘Don’t do onto others what you don’t want others to do onto you’.
Humility: It is the quality of having a modest view of one’s importance.
Generosity: It is the giving of their time, abilities, and money to help others.
Honesty: Be true to themselves and others. Doing the right things when one is looking.
‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them’ – Mother Teresa
To be joyful:
Being joyful is more than happy, it is an attitude. Being joyful makes life happy and is a strong antidote to stress. Each problem in life has a significance and value. People learn from the problems. It makes the child mature and helps to learn problem handling. Being joyful at the time of stress is possible they will have the kind mindset and believes that positive things are there behind every negative thing. First, make yourself joyful and then lead them by an example to develop an attitude of gratitude.
Cultivate inner joy by giving instead of by taking. Teach them to help others. When they will help others, they will feel joy for it.
Patience is the secret:
Patience means one willing to wait for the result without being anxious or angry and accepting the results when it is published. Impatience is lack of peace and leads to emotional stress.
Kindness is having sympathy and understanding for others and forwarding helping hands when they needed. It will develop a good relationship with others and the same will be returned back for your child.
Gentleness is being kind, friendly, courtesies, and not become harsh, angry, rough, etc.
Be gracious, not judgemental, Teach then to disagree with gentleness if needed.
Teach them to accept or admit when they are wrong. They should apologize if they have committed any wrong thing.
A lot of stressful situation arises due to a lack of self-control. One can lose control over one’s speech, behavior, attitude, achievement, etc. Here self-control is really needed. One’s control shall not be defined by other’s action.
Teach them to say NO if something is wrong or your child does not like. This control leads to confidence and inner sense of security.
Listen to your child attentively and calmly and ask them what is wrong. Avoid judgment, blaming, advice, etc. The best way to teach self-control is to demonstrate it at all the time.
Do not expect too much from your child:
Expecting too much from your child give unnecessary stress and frustration on your child. You should allow your children to play and relax after school.
As on date time management is a must learning subject. Teach them how to use a daily planner and prioritize the activity.
You should allow them to take their decision own and to develop negotiating skills in them. Let them plan their own activities and experience the fruits of success and failure.
Children insecurities are important:
Respect your child’s fears/insecurity. Do not do anything which makes then fear or insecure. Avoid to saying “It is silly to scare”. Do not push them to be brave.
Excersize: the ultimate success reliever:
Exercise has a lot of benefits including stress reliever. Golden words related to exercise is “Families that play together, stay together”. Develop habits of exercise and continue this habits into their adulthood years. Children who exercise regularly are more able to handle the long-term effect of stress.
Regular exercise not only strengthens the physical health but also benefits the mental health of your child. Exercise can release the chemical endorphins which are responsible for an overall sense of well-being.
Meditation every day helps to reduce stress effectively.
Meditation and faith in God:
The study shows that people doing meditation and having faith in God are get less stress than others.
Good night sleep:
Lack of sleep is one of the leading cause of stress and stress of one of leading cause of insomnia. So it is necessary to maintain a good sleep every day.
Good nutrition improves both physical health and mental health of your child. Nutrition impacts their emotion, ability to concentrate, prevent disease and develop into a healthy adult. If needed supplement also can be taken based on the discussion with a nutritionist:
Omega 3 fatty acid i.e. good fat. Many experiments support that Good fats help to reduce depression.
A healthy diet shall be maintained which will give the required nutrient. The nutrition value shall be more prior over the test of the food. Sickness too grows stress on the child.
In this articles, I tried to touch every aspect of stress which may be concerning for your child. Stress in children is growing rapidly and mishandling of this problem destroying their life. Read this to educate yourself on stress management. But if you find chronic stress in your child please do visit a professional consultant.
Please do not too cheap to share the article ‘Stress management’
The adolescent phase of the life cycle is a complex terrain of interesting biological, intra-psychic and social forces that together contribute to significant transformations in individual development. These varied forces lead to a diversity of developmental paths in adolescence.
Adolescence is a period of rapid and transformation in physical, psychological, socio-cultural and cognitive development. The physical changes of puberty including growth and maturation of multiple organ systems, such as the reproductive organs and brain lay a biological foundation for the other developmental changes. The adolescent brain is rewired with resulting maturation of cognitive abilities in early adolescence.
Adolescence is marked by critical transformation in the relationship of a young person to the world, as the social circles of peers and the adult worlds of work, pleasure and social responsibility become more central, the family circle becomes somewhat less prominent at least temporarily. Adolescents must learn to deal with an expanding social universe and must develop the social shields to find friendship, romance, employment and social standing with multiple social spheres. Finally, it is a critical task of an adolescent is the establishment of a stable sense of identity and deny autonomy.
Adolescent health problems may be seen increasingly as the problems created by young people for themselves like smoking, drug addiction, sexual abusing, and sedentary unhealthy life.
Like infancy, childhood, adulthood, middle age, and old age, adolescence or teenage is just a certain developmental stage. We are trying to segment it, but essentially, this is the journey of a body. Some are suffering infancy problems, some teenage problems, some are going through middle age problems, some are going through old age problems. Looking at it from this perspective, every phase of life seems to be a problem. Instead of seeing it as different facets of life, people see it as different problems.
There are various types of situations in your life, and that is all they are – situations. Some of them you can handle – some of them you cannot. Whatever you cannot handle, you call a problem, rather than seeing it is only a situation and trying to equip yourself to handle it. The moment you call it a problem, unpleasantness is a natural consequence.
Parents have to be a good friend:
If you look at it from the teenager’s perspective, every day, life is changing within you because you are growing rapidly, and the people around you are not able to grasp that. Usually, grandparents become a little more endearing than parents because they look at things from a little distance. As a teenager, you are slowly getting hijacked by your hormones. Old age means you are being released from that, so they kind of understand. Those of you who are middle-aged have no clue. Even historically, the Middle Ages represent a confused state of mind!
There are many aspects of teenage years. One thing is, your intelligence is being hijacked by your hormones. Suddenly, the whole world looks different. What were just people are suddenly becoming males and females. Suddenly, you are only interested in one half of humanity. It is a huge change. You must understand it is new to them and they are trying to come to terms with it.
If you were a good friend and they had problems, they would talk to you. Because most parents are lousy friends, they make other friends, and those friends give their own whacky advice since they are also in the same state. It would be best that if your children have a problem, they come to you. But they will not come to you if you think you are the boss. They will not come to you if you think you have ownership over their life, same way they will not come to you if you are “that horrible father or mother.”
Your child will come to you if you are a good friend because when they have problems, it is natural for them to seek a friend. So make sure from an early age that you are their best friend until they reach the age of 18 or 20. You have to earn it. It will not happen because you delivered them. Because you delivered them, you get the title of mother and father – you will not get the title of a friend. This has to be earned by you behaving responsibly every day.
Parents should make them responsible:
Do not deal with your teenagers. Make yourself available for them. Make them responsible for everything. One month, have the courage to hand over your monthly income to them and give them the responsibility to manage the house. You will see, things will change dramatically. If you really want to do something with your children, you must allow them to expand, because that is all they are trying to do. It is not just their body that is growing – the potential of the human being is also growing. You must allow them to expand, rather than seeing how to restrict them.
If you try to restrict them, you will have huge problems, for boys, there is one kind of problem and for girls, there is another kind of problem. Do not think the restriction is a good way of controlling life. Responsibility will put them on track. As I said, hand over your money to them and tell them to handle it this month – you are on vacation. If you are afraid that they will go and blow it up – if they do, what happens to you will happen to them too. Let them go through it for a month. Of course, you can keep some reserve, but let them understand if they blow up the money, there will be no breakfast tomorrow morning. It is better to learn in a protected, caring atmosphere than out on the street.
How To Deal With Common Problems Of Adolescence:
Adolescence is not an easy time for kids or parents. The only way to deal with needs and problems at this age is to know about them and be ready to face them. Here is our list of the most common problems, and their solutions that adolescents have to deal with.
Physical changes happen due to change in the teenager’s hormone levels.
Development of full breasts in girls can be awkward in the beginning. Girls may start to feel conscious about their figure.
Change of voice and appearance of facial hair in boys is perhaps the most prominent change that takes place during adolescence.
Acne is one of the major problems.
Muscle gain sometimes leads to excessive body weight in teens.
The growth of pubic hair in girls and boys.
Body odor becomes evident.
Girls start their periods.
The best way you can do to help your teenager get through the stage is to make them aware of these changes.
Explain that it is normal for the body to change as every teenager goes through it!
Help them adapt to these changes – acknowledge the change and help them accept it.
Enable them to stay healthy and fit through a nutritious diet and exercise.
Emotional changes and problems:
Hormones affect your teenager not only physically but also emotionally.
Adolescence is the age of adulthood and childhood. Teenagers are often confused about their role and are torn between their responsibilities as growing adults and their desires as children.
They tend to feel overly emotional (blame it on the hormones). Just about anything and everything can make them happy, excited, mad or angry.
Adolescent girls are vulnerable to crying.
Mood swings are common among teenage boys and girls.
Bodily changes result in self-consciousness.
Children who hit puberty early may even feel weird.
Feelings of inferiority or superiority may arise at this time.
Adolescence is the age when sexual feelings arise in youngsters. Feelings and thoughts about sex can trigger a sense of guilt.
Puberty can be an emotional roller-coaster ride. And it is normal. Here is how you can help your kid deal with these emotional problems of adolescence.
Assist them to take care of themselves. Tell your teenagers that it is okay to feel the way they are feeling.
Encourage them to exercise physical activity helps keep the serotonin (creates good feelings and happiness) levels up.
Let them talk. Listen to them without judging and avoid giving them advice when they are not ready for it.
Share your experiences of puberty or let them talk to an older sibling who has gone through the same. It will emphasize that it is okay to feel the way they do.
Indulging in a creative activity can help them channelize their emotions.
Overwhelming emotions can lead to impulsive behavior, which can be harmful to your child as well as others. Mostly, it is just teen behavior that will last as long as their adolescence.
Adolescence is the time when kids develop and exercise their independence. This can give rise to questioning the parents’ rules (seen as argumentative) and standing up for what they believe is right (seen as stubbornness).
The raging hormones in teenage boys can even push them to get into physical confrontations. They would also want to listen to loud music.
As a part of their new-found independence, adolescents may also want to try new things and take risks, resulting in careless behavior.
Sometimes, peer pressure and the need to ‘fit in’ can make them behave in a certain way or develop certain habits that are hard to break.
Your teen’s dressing, hairstyle, and sense of fashion also change, mostly to something that you may not approve of.
The most troubling behavior is perhaps your teen hanging out with problem kids and adapting to a dangerous lifestyle.
Lying is one of the common teen behavioral issues. Teens may lie to avoid confrontation with parents or out of fear.
Behavioral problems in adolescence can make life difficult for parents. But remember that it is a passing phase, and is entirely normal.
Gaining your child’s trust is important if you want to help him with behavioral issues. Talk to them and listen to what they have to say. Do not judge or criticize them, as it could worsen their behavior.
Let them know that you love them just as they are. Encourage them to be true to themselves and not take on a personality just to please others.
You will have to intervene if you see them falling into bad company. Remember that adolescents are sensitive and may not take criticism well.
Substance Use and Abuse:
Teenagers are vulnerable and can be easily swayed to the wrong side. Substance abuse is one of the biggest problems that parents of adolescents around the world have to deal with.
Peer pressure is one of the significant factors that drive adolescents to take up smoking and drinking or to do drugs.
The tendency to take risk encourages most teens to try smoking or drinking even before they are of legal age.
What may start as a ‘thrill’, can become a habit if it remains unchecked.
If there is somebody who smokes or drinks at home, they can become your teen’s role models.
Poor self-esteem and the need to be ‘cool’ can push adolescents to smoke or drink.
Easy access to substances like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and anabolic steroids may increase the temptation to try illicit substances.
Keep an eye on your child’s behavior. Look for erratic behavior and change in his or her appetite, sleep patterns, and moods.
Do not spy on them or accuse them of any wrongdoing. Encourage them to talk and be honest. Tell them what your concerns are and discuss the problem with them.
If your child is not willing to talk to you, the doctors can ask confidential questions to know if they are abusing any substances. Avoid going as far as a drug test, as that may come across as confrontational and threaten the kid.
If necessary, get your adolescent the appropriate treatment.
High school is not all about fashion, friends, and parties. Kids also have a lot of educational activities on their plate.
Pressure to perform academically and obtain college admission can be stressful and make your teenager moody.
Juggling schoolwork, extra-curricular activities (must for college admissions) and chores at home can be tiring.
Distractions at school can result in poor academic performance, which will add to the pressure.
Support your kid’s aspirations for college education as what they need is the encouragement to do well.
You could cut down their household chores to enable them to focus on their school projects when needed.
Nutrition and exercise can help them get the strength and endurance they need to get through the hectic high school period.
Adolescents are vulnerable emotionally and physically. Without proper nutrition and healthcare, they are susceptible to illnesses. According to a 2015 WHO report, 1.3 million adolescents died in 2015, a majority of who had preventable diseases.
Teenagers have a hectic schedule as they hop from one activity to another with little time to eat or rest properly. Unhealthy eating habits prevent them from getting the nutrition they need.
Consciousness about their body can lead to eating disorders, especially in girls. Adolescent girls who worry about their weight and appearance can develop disorders like anorexia or bulimia.
Stress can also lead to loss of appetite and sleeplessness in young children.
Unhealthy eating habits and a less active lifestyle could also lead to obesity – this is often the case when your child consumes a lot of empty calories through fast food and sodas.
Parental guidance can help abate health problems in adolescence to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Lead by example and encourage your children to eat healthy food, exercise right and sleep on time.
Ensure they get nutrition through their meals. Give them a balanced diet.
Be there for them emotionally and physically as this will help them deal with any possible disorders.
Research has revealed that around 50% of mental health disorders that adults have, begin at the age of 14. In fact, one-third of adolescent deaths are suicides triggered by depression. If your child is overly moody and is not eating or sleeping at all, it is imperative you get professional help for them.
Teenagers may have self-esteem or confidence issues. The feelings of inferiority or superiority often arise from their appearance, and acceptance of their body – skin color, beauty, and figure.
Poor performance in academics and low IQ can also demotivate them. They develop the ‘I’m not good enough’ attitude towards life.
Depression is one of the common psychological problems associated with adolescence.
The stress and pressure of adolescence can create anxiety related issues, while mood swings can lead to conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder.
Eating disorders are also psychosomatic as they start with the adolescent having a poor self-image and the need to change the way they look by any means.
While moodiness and temper tantrums are normal in teenage girls and boys, they may not always be what they seem. Identifying symptoms of psychological problems in adolescence is not easy and needs the eye of an expert.
Most of the time, talking about the problems and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can prevent the onset of depression.
If your child is overly moody and cynical, it is time to intervene and seek professional help if necessary.
Sometimes, your teenage girl or boy may be unhappy only at home and doing fine outside. Talk to the child’s teachers and friends to know if they are moody and disoriented at school as well. If they are, then it is a cause for concern.
Do not brush away their feelings, as that can make things worse.
Social problems – dating and relationships
Attraction to the opposite sex begins during puberty. Adolescence is the time when their sexual or reproductive organs start developing. At such a vulnerable time, it is but natural for kids to feel awkward in social situations.
Teenagers want to have an identity of their own. They tend to look up to role models at home or outside.
Adolescents also start thinking about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and question your take on certain things.
They need time to understand and get comfortable with their sexuality. Girls and boys start experiencing ‘weird’ feelings towards the other sex and may not know what to do about it.
This is the time they start dating. Your adolescent may not be comfortable talking to you about it and may go with little information or misinformation they have about it.
Competition is another important aspect of a teenager’s social life. Your child may compete with her peers in about anything and everything. Their spirit of competition speaks a lot about their perception of self – whether they have a positive self-esteem or a negative one.
Sexual feelings and thoughts of sex may seem wrong to an adolescent, because of which they may feel guilty.
Their social circle expands during this time as they seem occupied interacting with friends on social media sites, through their phone and outside.
Here is how you can deal with social problems of adolescence:
Dating, romance, and sex are delicate issues that your teenager may not be comfortable talking about. Don’t make it more awkward for your child. Be confident and rational when discussing the subject.
Your child may seem to spend more time outside than with you. Accept that your adolescents are discovering a whole new world. Just let them know you are there when they need you.
Sharing your dating and social life experiences in school can put them at ease sometimes.
Sexual health – unplanned pregnancy and STIs:
The development of secondary sexual characteristics during adolescence gives rise to new feelings in teenagers and pushes them to experiment with their bodies.
Adolescence is the time when teens experience their first kiss, the intimate dance with their ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ and secret make-out sessions.
Without proper guidance, teenagers may become sexually active before they are ready. This could result in unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancy is the biggest risk that adolescent girls face.
Unprotected sex can also lead to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.
Have ‘the talk’ with your kids as they may already be learning about sexual health and reproduction at school. Your duty as a parent is to ensure that they understand the importance of safe sex.
The hormonal changes in teenagers may make them act impulsively. Your teen may not like it but it is important that you talk to them about the consequences of unprotected sex and how it can change their life.
Awareness is the only way to prevent early pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in adolescents.
Addiction to cyberspace
The advent of social media has changed the way we interact with each other. It has affected teenage lifestyles the most.
Your teen may seem to spend hours on phone, texting, talking or simply playing.
Adolescents addicted to the internet tend to have fewer friends and a less active social life. They lead solitary lives and are happily browsing the internet for hours.
Addiction to cyberspace also cuts short their physical activities, resulting in an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.
Internet addiction adversely impacts academic performance.
Do not assume that your child is addicted to the internet just because he or she spends a lot of time in front of the computer. They could be doing more productive things on the system other than surfing the net.
Do not say ‘no’ to the Internet. That will only make them adamant. Instead, talk about your concerns and help them work on other things that do not require a computer.
You could use parental controls, but that may not be taken well by your teen – remember that they are not kids anymore. At the same time, they may also not have the judgment to make the right choices. So guide them as a parent, but never decide for them.
Enroll them in activities that encourage them to interact with others. Have family activities that will make them want to spend less time at the computer.
Aggression and violence behaviour of adolscent:
Aggression is especially a concern with adolescent boys. Young boys start to develop muscles, grow tall and have a coarser, manly voice. In addition to that, they are moody and vulnerable and can let others get under their skin.
Adolescent boys can get into fights at school.
Worse, they could start bullying others, which is a major problem that adolescent boys and girls have to deal with.
Boys may fall into bad company and be drawn to acts of violence, vandalism, and aggression. They could be easily swayed to own or use a firearm or a weapon too.
Impulse acts of violence can lead to serious consequences, including death. According to the WHO report, interpersonal violence causes around 180 adolescent deaths around the world.
Teenage girls are likely to suffer violence or aggression by a partner.
Children tend to imitate what they see at home. The following remedies for problems of adolescence will help abate aggression, violence, and related issues.
Teach your children to be kind and considerate. Nurturing relationships at home can help them become less aggressive.
Prevent access to firearms and alcohol early to prevent violence.
Teach them life skills and the importance of compassion. Lead them to be their model.
Avoid exposing them to violent stories, games or movies at an age when they cannot differentiate between what is right and wrong.
Biological changes during puberty:
Puberty is an endocrinological event leading to sexual maturation. In the process of achieving reproductive maturity, this surge in hormones plays a central role within a larger set of biological changes, which include rapid physical growth; sexually dimorphic alterations in facial structure, voice, and body characteristics; metabolic changes; the activation of new drives and motivations; changes in sleep and circadian regulation; and a wide array of social, behavioral, and emotional changes.
The start of puberty is characterized by the reactivation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. The first step is when the hypothalamus begins to release large amounts of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in a pulsatile manner during sleep. The HPG axis is active during prenatal and early postnatal life and then becomes quiescent throughout childhood. Puberty actually represents a reactivation. The exact mechanisms that trigger this reactivation of pulsatile GnRH release at puberty remain unclear, but there has been rapid progress in understanding several key aspects. The first outward signs of puberty are breast development in girls and genital development in boys. In addition to the gonadal hormones testosterone and estradiol, the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) also plays a role in the development of secondary sexual characteristics, including pubic hair (girls and boys) and facial hair (boys; Delemarre-van de Waal, 2002). Changes in levels of growth hormone also contribute to the pubertal growth and metabolic changes. In addition, other neuroendocrine systems also appear to contribute to neurobehavioral changes during puberty. For example, oxytocin and vasopressin, involved in social bonding, appear to undergo changes in adolescence in some species. However, there is a dearth of data on humans that directly address these influences so most of this review will focus on gonadal hormones.
Clearly, some aspects of cognitive (and social-cognitive) function are impacted by pubertal hormones. For example, there is evidence that estrogen shapes dopamine-dependent cognitive processes (Jacobs & D’Esposito, 2011), as well as recent findings that pubertal hormones (testosterone, estradiol, and DHEA) directly influence brain activity within the anterior temporal lobe during social-emotional processing (Goddings, Heyes, Bird, Viner, & Blakemore, 2012). This is quite interesting given that the anterior temporal lobe has been implicated in the processing of social emotions such as guilt and embarrassment (Zahn et al., 2007). Pubertal hormones and models of brain-behavior interactions
Recently, it has been proposed that pubertal maturation impacts social and affective processing in ways that contribute to an adolescent flexibility in cognitive engagement according to the social and motivational salience of the context (Crone & Dahl, 2012). The model suggests that interactions between social-affective processing systems in the brain and cognitive-control systems can lead to healthy adaptation to the complex and rapidly changing social contexts of adolescence. However, these interactions can also lead to negative trajectories, such as substance abuse or depression. Such negative trajectories may begin as small changes but, over time, can lead to patterns of behavior that have cascading effects: brain-behavior interactions with spiraling impact across adolescence.
Other than infancy, no stage in human development results in such rapid or dramatic change than adolescence. During adolescence, a child matures into an adult physically. Breakthroughs in science and technology have sparked an explosion of new knowledge about the developmental changes that occur during adolescence. Advances in Neuro-endocrinology and brain imaging are beginning to produce important insights into the pubertal growth and adolescent development.
The study of adolescence in general and puberty, in particular, is challenging as a result of their complexity. So a multitude of factors interacts, affecting the timing and trajectory of development in the second decade of life. Which factors interact under which circumstances? Which factors are driving forces in adolescent development, and which have more marginal roles? What is the relationship between the timing of puberty and the progression of hormonal changes? These are some of the issues that will require further investigation as the field of adolescent development itself comes of age.