Montessori Psychology: Key Characteristics of Adolescence

The Emotive Mind

Social development is guided by an “emotive” mind, a combination of inabilities, or purely abstract propositions. This quality of thought may be the reason why adolescents naturally object, argue and analyze many of the issues they are confronted with.

Tender, Gawky Body

In this plane of development rapid physical growth is matched only by that in infancy. Hormonal changes bring about sexual maturity, the development of secondary sexual characteristics, and the capacity to reproduce. The rate of growth differs dramatically from individual to individual. During this period adolescents are prone to illness and a lack of energy.

Vulnerable Emotionally and Physically

Physical changes occur in hormonal growth spurts, causing an emotional awkwardness as well as a lack of physical coordination. Adolescents are easily tired, and change their routine for sleep, awakening later and sleeping more than in late childhood. Adolescents develop an acute concern about their body, which causes a painful period of self- consciousness.

Now in a Historical Context

The history of humankind provides the context for exploring society and all its elements as a preparation for adulthood. By exploring human history the adolescent can connect the present to the past by comparing and contrasting how others have made their mark on society. In this way, the adolescent nds her place and becomes the dynamic link between the past and the future.

Humanistic Explorer of Society

Like in early childhood, exploration must be reality-based, but for the adolescent the world to explore is much wider. The adolescent needs to be initiated into the adult world. Maturity is assured through opportunities to investigate adult roles while doing the work of adults. There is a keen interest in participating in a community through meaningful and contributory work.

Social Order

At this stage of development adolescents have a strong sensitivity to social order, which helps them to relate their own personal experiences and discover relationships between people. It is an age of camaraderie and intense relations with peers. A strong sense of identity with the group emerges, a longing to belong to the current culture and a new role in the family constellation takes place.

Repeats to Interpret

They repeat for mastery so that they are perceived as capable in relation to their peers. This repetition also takes them to a level of interpretation, allowing them to transform an activity through thoughtful and sometimes critical scrutiny.

Societal Directives

Adolescents adapt their own attitudes, mores and values by questioning parental and societal attitudes as well as confronting the status quo.

People are Personal

Adolescence is a time of emerging moral and ethical sensitivity in relations with peers and adults. This sensitivity makes them critically evaluate adults and examine each other. It is a period of heightened sexual awareness in relations to their peers, as evidenced in both a unique solidarity with peers and intense emotional relations. The development of empathy at this age is of critical importance for maturity.

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