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Coping With Autonomy: The Challenge Of Adolescence.

1065 words - 4 pages

Adolescence, a relatively recent social construct is a time one's life commonly associated with change. For many people, this time between the ages of 13 and 22 signals a watershed in most people's lives where many vocational decisions are made. It is during one's adolescence that a human becomes most autonomous, making informed decisions for themselves, leaving the home to create new lives and carving out their own particular life paths. This essay will attempt to define autonomy, and also to discover how people become more autonomous during adolescence. The essay will also encounter some of the challenges that are faced during adolescence and will also try to answer why they take place at this time.Autonomy is defined as the right to self-government. Pre-adolescence autonomy is not achieved due to attachment. Attachment refers to the close, emotional bonds of affection that develop between infants and their caregivers (Weiten, 2001). Before a child reaches adolescence they are attached to the primary caregiver. Due to attachment the child lacks autonomy, as they are totally dependant on the primary caregiver. The mother in the infant-mother attachment often becomes a conditioned reinforcer. In the study of Harlow & Harlow(as cited in Weiten, 2001) this reinforcement theory of attachment came into question as a result of Harry and Margaret Harlow's famous studies in infant rhesus monkeys. In this study monkeys were separated from their mothers at birth and were raised by two different sets of "substitute mothers" in a laboratory. One substitute was made using cloth and the other was made using wire. Half of the babies were fed by the wire monkey and the other half were fed by the cloth monkey. Attachment was tested in this case by introducing a frightening stimulus such as a strange toy. When the toy was introduced all the monkeys scrambled for their cloth mothers even though they were not all fed by them.As a child enters adolescence they slowly begin to achieve autonomy. Autonomy is achieved in adolescence through a widening of various social aspects such as making new friends and enjoying a new social life outside the restraints of the primary caregiver. As the child moves in to adolescence they become less dependant on the caregiver. Financial autonomy is achieved through the adolescent acquiring a part time job. In this case the adolescent becomes less dependant on the caregiver, as they are no longer restrained financially. A new social experience such as sport can also help the adolescent to achieve autonomy. Sport is one way for the adolescent to make new friends and experience a wider social life. Through sport the adolescent is introduced to the concept of going out with the new friends that they made. This helps to achieve autonomy as the adolescent begins to experience a whole new culture that is nightlife.Piaget a Swiss developmental psychologist proposed the theory of the formal operational stage. In Piaget's theory,...

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