Adolescence as we understand is a transitional period of development between youth and maturity. It is an important period in everyone’s life while all other periods of the life span are important, adolescence needs a little more care and sensitivity from parents together with good food habits. Adequate nutrition is a vital need of adolescence.
Adolescence is usually accompanied by an increased independence allowed by the parents or legal guardians and less supervision, contrary to the preadolescence stage. When we see our children coming on this age, we send them to high school and colleges. So, as parents, we are left with limited period of our teenagers time to be spent with us. This adds up to our responsibility to bring up our child to be healthy adult.
Adolescents have also been an important factor in many movements for positive social change around the world. The popular history of adolescents participating in these movements may perhaps start with Joan of Arc, and extend to present times with popular youth activism, student activism, and other efforts to make the youth voice heard.
Adolescence is characterized by a number of cognitive, emotional, physical and attitudinal changes, which can be a cause of conflict on one hand and positive personality development on the other. The home environment and parents are still important for the behaviors and choices of adolescents. Adolescents who have a good relationship with their parents are less likely to engage in various risk behaviors, such as smoking, drinking or fighting. In conflict with their parents, adolescents are more flexible than younger children, but more hostile and rigid compared to adults. The topics of conflicts between adolescents and their parents are often about the extent to which parents can control and supervise the adolescent, for instance conflicts about chores, schoolwork, law and order, adventurous plays and the adolescent’s right to privacy.
Proper nutrition of our teenage could prevent them from medical problems like weak bones, hormonal imbalance, acne, thyroid juvenile diabetes and weight problems. A majority of changes take place during adolescence. This period is characterised by rapid increases in height and weight due to hormonal changes and sexual maturation.
Physiological changes occur at puberty due to the increased secretion of hormones released by the pituitary glands. These hormones in return stimulate production and release of other hormones like ‘Androgens’ and ‘oestrogens’.
At the adolescence age, the child feels full of energy to undertake any job and for better productivity, that needs constant supervision which may however cause some irritation at their end. Some of the features of this age can be briefed as below:
• Developing Multiple Plans.
Many young people leave high school with a narrow plan of action and with few alternatives. They fully expect to be successful with the plan and are not prepared to face any barriers. Developing flexibility in career planning requires a sense of purpose, problem solving skills, and several plans. Helpful strategies include visualization, lateral thinking, assessing options, and decision making in a context of uncertainty.
• Self-Advocacy and Marketing.
As young people move towards further education, or into the labour market, it is critical for them to market and advocate for themselves. With scarce opportunities and confusing bureaucracies, there is a need to develop communication skills, self-confidence, organizational adaptability, and effectiveness in human relations. This requires activities such as mentoring, role-played practice, and ongoing economic, emotional, and informational support.
• Managing Changing Relationships.
The emotional and social changes adolescents experience can challenge young people as they try to cope with barriers in the education system and labour market. Friends provide emotional support, but this is a time when friendship patterns are changing. Parents are needed for emotional, material, and information support, but, at the same time, they need to allow young people sufficient room to develop their own sense of identity. Coping with relationship issues can be facilitated through communication, human relationship training, and problem solving, which blurs most of the traditional distinction between career and personal counseling.
• Meeting Basic Needs.
Young people have a strong need for community. Other central needs include having a sense of meaning in life, physical and emotional security, and basic structure in relationships and living. As young people mover beyond high school, many of these basic needs require revaluation. In addition to changing relationships, questions emerge as to how to make a living, how to plan meaningful activities, and how to effectively manage time. To facilitate these changes, young people need to establish a sense of purpose and understand how they are meeting their current and future needs. Counsellors can help clarify these issues. Without this type of developmental assistance, young people often lack the resilience to manoeuvre within increasingly competitive educational and labour market environments.
• Coping with Stress.
Adolescence is a period of considerable stress. While much of the stress can by minimized through support, persistence, and active decision making and planning, there still will be times when young people find themselves in difficult situations. Coping with stress is associated with various competencies such as organizational adaptability, human relations, problem solving, and self-confidence. Particular strategies for stress management include relaxation techniques, managing ‘self talk,’ focusing, and using support systems.
• Coping with Loss.
We were surprised at the extent to which young people were influenced by various personal losses. These losses involved death in the family (usually grand parents) and the experience of parental separation and divorce. The impact of these losses upon career events was considerable, suggesting a definite need for youth to develop competence in handling loss and grieving. Counseling in this domain blurs many of the traditional distinctions between the personal and career areas.
• Bridging Programs.
Many young people lack “hands-on” experience as they attempt to enter the world of work. Many also are unfamiliar with, and fearful of, moving into post-secondary education. To address this concern, counsellors need to develop work experience and co-op education programs to help young people acquire the necessary experience. Post-secondary education entry programs can also play an important role in easing transition difficulties.
• Information and Information Access.
The challenge in the information age is not only how to gather information, but how to turn information into personally relevant knowledge. Young people need up-to-date information on careers, education programs, and market trends. They must also develop skills to assess the relevance of information. Acquiring these skills involves both theoretical and applied knowledge. Counselling strategies within this domain include helping young people develop research, interviewing, and critical analysis skills.
• Requiring time to adjust to changes
Puberty is much more than just a simple physiological readjustment. Menstruation is traumatic experience for considerable number of girls children find it difficult to either fit into adults or children. Some experience weakness and dullness in body due to the hormonal changes. They need time to adjust themselves. Similarly, male children also feel attraction with the opposite gender and try to come closer. We need to have close supervision with balanced freedom to enable them to understand each other. We can give them some inputs of sex education at this age.
• Becoming A Role Model
Practise what you preach. Healthy eating and regular exercise should be a part of everyone’s daily routine in the family. Availability of high calorie snacks or desserts should not be in the family. It’s much easier for the child if everyone in the house follows the same guidelines. Good habits adopted during these prime developmental years set life long habits. You are required not to be a nagging parent. You must protect their self esteem and avoid strict diet plans or with holding or depriving your child of food.
• Keeping A Check On Their Activities
Adolescence makes the child feel sexually mature. This could attract the child to explore sexual activities. Another problem faced at this age is eating disorders. It is an emotional and physical problem associated with obsession with weight or body shape. The most common are Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge eating. Educate your child of the problems these habits could lead too.
• Meeting Their Increased Nutritional Requirements
The nutritional requirement is conditioned primarily by a ‘spurt’ in growth. The requirement reach maximum during this period of childhood due to anabolic activities. The calorie requirement in proportion to the body size is much more compared to an adult. An average adolescent boy needs 2400-2800 calories where as a girl needs 2100-2300 calories per day. In case of obesity the child should be encouraged to increase the amount of exercise rather than cut down on calories. But on the same time it is very important to come down to normal weight as after 16 years of age it becomes very difficult to lose weight. Obese girls face a lot of problems during puberty like scanty or irregular periods.
The need for additional protein at pubertal growth has been stressed fro the building and maintenance of new body tissue. Special care has to be taken of the girls due to the monthly loss of blood. Protein is one of the major constituent of blood. Protein is one of the major constituent of blood. Emphasis should be laid on good quality proteins like sprouts, soyabeans, milk, eggs and meat. Proteins should be encouraged to be taken in first half of the day of better digestion.
20-30% of total calories in an adolescent’s diet should come from fats. The fats should be preferably rich in folic acid. A combination of ghee refined oils and mustard oil is the best. Avoid hydrogenated fats. Butter Oil made is very important for the formation bones. Avoid fried foods to prevent acne very common in adolescents. Do not restrict carbohydrates for obese children as they are required providing the increased demands of energy.
The excessive need of vitamins and minerals can be met by including a wide range of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy products etc. Certain minerals like calcium and iron have to be taken extra care off. Bringing in the importance of health in your young could give way to a healthy future for them. This is the best gift a family can give to adolescents.
Briefly I may say that at this age,
• Career counseling needs to encompass a greater range of issues. • Personal and career issues are inextricably intertwined for young people. • The ways in which young people make some of their transition experiences greatly influence their psychological well being. • Families and friends form a strong base for support in the transition period.
Be Happy – Adjust with Adolescence.