adolescent_development_0 - The Office of Religious Education

 What do you remember about being a teenager?
 Psychological Development
 Moral Development
 Physical Development
 Spiritual Development
 Erikson’s Stages of
Development --
 Heinz’s wife was dying from a particular type of cancer. Doctors said a new drug
might save her. The drug had been discovered by a local chemist and the Heinz tried
desperately to buy some, but the chemist was charging ten times the money it cost to
make the drug and this was much more than the Heinz could afford.
 Heinz could only raise half the money, even after help from family and friends. He
explained to the chemist that his wife was dying and asked if he could have the drug
cheaper or pay the rest of the money later. The chemist refused saying that he had
discovered the drug and was going to make money from it. The husband was
desperate to save his wife, so later that night he broke into the chemist’s and stole the
 In your eyes, did he do the right thing?
 During adolescence, there are dramatic changes in one’s physical
body (growth spurts, hormones, brain development)
 The structural reorganization of one’s brain is thought to continue
until the age of 25, and smaller changes continue throughout life.
 During adolescence, abstract reasoning makes it possible to
consider one’s self from the eyes of another. Teens may use this new
skill to obsess over what others are thinking of them. In particular,
peer approval has been shown to be highly rewarding to the teen
brain, which is why they tend to be overly conscientious about how
they are perceived/accepted by others.
 Pictures of the brain in action show that adolescents’ brains function differently than
adults when decision-making and problem solving. Their actions are guided more by
the amygdala and less by the frontal cortex.
 Based on the stage of their brain development, adolescents are more likely to:
 act on impulse
 misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions
 get into accidents of all kinds
 get involved in fights
 engage in dangerous or risky behavior
 Adolescents are less likely to:
 think before they act
 pause to consider the potential consequences of their actions
 modify their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors
These brain differences don’t mean that young people can’t make good decisions or tell the
difference between right and wrong. It also doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held responsible
for their actions. But an awareness of these differences can help parents, teachers, advocates, and
policy makers understand, anticipate, and manage the behavior of adolescents.
 Attention Span:
 Developmentally, children and adolescents have shorter attention
spans than adults
 For example: Within Christian meditation, it is suggested that each
age meditate for a number of minutes equal to their age
 12 years old: 12 minutes of meditation
 A witness talk is ideally best given within 7-10 minutes
 One’s conceptual framework of how the world works and how events
are explained
Worldview is influenced by:
 Cultural/family upbringing
 Life experiences/events
 Position in society (e.g., disability, social class, religious differences,
ethnic, racial background, gender, sexual orientation)
 Relationships
 Education
 They are developing their personal identity
 They are highly conscientious of what others think about them
 They are developing new decision-making skills
 They are trying to make sense of their faith– asking questions and
trying to understand inconsistencies
 The way they view the world and understand what happens in the
world is affected by several factors- family upbringing, cultural
values, gender, religion, relationships, etc
Bullying and cyberbullying
Making friends
Peer Pressure
Sexual Experimentation / Teen Pregnancy
Broken Families
Balancing school and several extracurricular activities
Stress over major life decisions
Identity seeking
Thoughts of worthlessness and suicide
Popular culture vs. faith
 Mental Health. Nationally, in 2011, 16% of high school students reported that they
seriously considered attempting suicide, and 28% reported feeling sad or
hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row.
 Substance Abuse. Nationally, in 2011, 39% of high school students reported
drinking alcohol in the 30 days before the survey. Of these, 46% of female high
school students and 35% of male high school students usually obtained that alcohol
by someone giving it to them.
 Cyberbullying. According to the High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 22% of
female high school students and 11% of male high school students were bullied
through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, or texting in 2011.
 Sexual Health. In 2011, 47% of high school students reported ever having sexual
intercourse- 49% male, 46% female. 15% reported having sexual intercourse with
4 or more persons.
 At times we expect adolescents to act as adults, when developmentally, they
haven’t matured in the physical, spiritual, psychological, and moral domains
the way that adults have
 Because of their short attention span, we should use diverse methods of
teaching to engage them and capture their attention
 We have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives by
being caring, supportive, and accepting adults that lend an ear to listen to
 Teens need a balance of both independence and structural boundaries in
order to develop in a healthy manner
 Since they are forming their personal identity during adolescence,
Confirmation is a critical time for them to incorporate Catholic teachings
and values into their identity and way of life
 Get to know your students-- Call them by name, build relationships,
earn their trust.
 Spend the first few classes allowing them to get to know one another,
build community, and realize it is a safe space for them to come and
 As much as possible relate the material to their lives and give them
opportunities to reflect on how they can apply newfound material to
their lives
 Let’s change it up. No talking or lecturing for too long.
 Include different activities to keep their attention.
 Video clips, songs, group discussions, skits, art projects,
journaling, etc.
 Use technology.
 Example: Your homework is to tweet something you learned in
class this week. Post a picture on Instagram related to your
 Where are they now? Where do they want to go? How will they get
 Where do we see them now? Where do we want them to go? How will
we assist them in getting there?
 Look through this list of 40 developmental assets for adolescents. Star
the ones that you have control over and can directly influence by
being in your role.
Do they have a significant encounter with