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The Changes of Early Adolescence

 Physical Development

  • developing secondary sex characteristics and the capacity to reproduce
  • being sensitive about physical changes and confused about their emerging sexuality
  • incorporating their bodily changes into their own self image as male or female

 Intellectual Development

  • beginning to move from concrete thinking (what is) to abstract thinking, “formal operations,” (what might be true if…)
  • questioning and testing adults’ statements and evaluating adults’ values
  • being painfully self-conscious and critical, idealistic, argumentative, self-centered
  • expanding interests; intense, short term enthusiasm

Identity Development

  • requiring time to reflect upon the new reactions they receive from others and to build a consistent self-image from the different mirrors in which they see themselves
  • discovering who they are as unique persons with abilities, interests and goals
  • seeking limited independence and autonomy from parents and adults

Moral Development

  • engaging in more complex decision-making process
  • resolving moral dilemmas in terms of the expectations of someone or something other than themselves, which can be (a) family, friends or other significant persons or (b) what the law or the system of good order calls for in a given situation

 Interpersonal Development

  • relying on parents and families in setting values and giving affection
  • identifying more strongly with the peer group for belonging and friendships
  • entering a broader social world of middle school, peer groups, and activity groups
  • developing the ability to consider the feelings and needs of others in a relationship
  • learning how to relate to the opposite sex (what to say and how to behave)

Faith Development

  • deriving their faith from parents and family
  • developing their faith and identity, establishing a set of religious beliefs, attitudes and values, through the experiences of participation and belonging in a caring faith community where they are valued