What is adolescence?

The term adolescence comes from the Latin word adolescentia, derived from the verb  adolescere  which means “to grow.”  It’s that delicate  phase of transition from childhood to adulthood characterized by radical changes, which  affect the body (biological maturation), the mind (cognitive development) and behaviors (relationships and social values).

When does adolescence start and how long does it last?

Different literatures propose to consider the onset of adolescence from puberty until the physical development is almost complete, usually around 18 or 19. About  two years before puberty both boys and girls go through a period of transformation that prepares women to menarche (onset of menstruation) and to the emergence of viable sperm in males.


What are the stages of development?

Each teenager is unique, with its own personality, its own interests and tastes, but you can find some common and typical aspects of adolescents (feelings, attitudes and behaviors).

Outlining the various stages is difficult and has an arbitrary value. In any way, for convenience,  it can be divided into three distinct phases; one coinciding with the middle school years (PRE ADOLESCENCE) and two coincident with the high school years (INTERMEDIATE STAGE and LATE ADOLESCENCE).

  • Between 11 and 12 years old there is the PRE ADOLESCENCE: the beginning of somatic and psychological changes and the loss of childhood characteristics. Changes at the school level appear, the presence of the first intra family conflicts, and the groups still tend to be characterized by typical childhood sexual segregation.
  • Between 14 and 18 there is the INTERMEDIATE ADOLESCENCE: the start of the process of “mourning” for the loss of body stability, the preferred object relationship with the parents, the lost objects / situations with the first autonomous choices.
  • Between 18 and 25 years there is the LATE ADOLESCENCE: concern for the future is prevalent, there is less conflict with the parents, and mixed groups are prevalent.


What consequences may there be when one has a late development compared to friends?

It may have psychological and behavioral consequences: anxiety and self-esteem decline may be two components derived from feeling rejected and devalued by the friends already developed, this concerns the male gender way more than female.

If you found yourself in these situations do not hesitate to contact a psychologist who can help you deal with this difficult time.


From a psychological point of view, what are the conflicts that young people experience and that often disrupt the family?

07During dolescence kids are facing many problems:

  • sexual maturation.
  • emancipation from parental control and their emotional dependence.

The teenager has various developmental tasks to overcome, one of them is surely to build values and ideals to pursue that will help him/her understand what kind of person he/she wants to become.


The abandonment of the infant’s body to acquire an adult one can be both a source of pride and of embarrassment. An important role is played by the parents, if they have dealt with this theme with embarrassment rather than naturally, the adolescent can develop a similar embarrassment and a certain insecurity. THE TEENAGER’S BODY (tattooed, pierced, mistreated, but also showed off and exhibited) is THE THEATRE OF DIFFERENT CONFLICTS, EMANCIPATORY NEEDS AND OF VARIOUS DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS. Some may react by trying to hide the nascent sexuality to prolong as much as possible their own childhood, while others may exacerbate it,  showing precociously behavior and clothing adultlike, to feel more adult. The sexual body scares but intrigues, one wants to know it. For some teenagers, the question of their sexuality arises, one may have the fear of not being “normal”, of being homosexual or unable to have sex. The first sexual intercourses may be upsetting or disappointing: being ready physically does not mean necessarily to also be ready mentally. You yourself decide your sexual behavior.

The emancipation from parental control and their emotional dependence once again, depends from the attitude taken by the parents during childhood. In fact, If a family stimulates the young adult looking for autonomy and control through motivation and affection, much more easily their son/daughter will develop feelings of self-confidence.

On the other side being rigid and authoritarian can transmit to the adolescent feelings of conflict and imbalance expressing it through being rejecting and rebels.


Does adolescence exist?ado2

The adolescent is not considered by most traditional societies as a person in a prolonged problematic transition. In them, often the transition from life stage “child” to “adult” phase is handled by special rites of passage, representing symbolically the removal from the previous state, the crossing of a liminal threshold, and reintegration into society with a different state.

Not all traditional societies consider adolescence as a problematic transition.

Up to 800 one entered in the adult world when could devote to activities that the social class involved. For example, the poorest, were beginning to work even at 6 or 7 years old, while among the elite one could be a king or a university professor also at 12-14 years old.



– Psychiatrist Licia Lietti              +39 338 5019524

– Clinical Psychologist  Martina    Larsen Paya:         +39 349 169627


– Clinical Psychologist,  Martina   Trinchieri:              +39 393 5564912



Recommended readings:

Conference: Adolescenza esiste…. o non esiste…    by Marcello Florita

Fragile e Spavaldo by Gustavo Pietropolli Charmet

AdoleScienza. Manuale per genitori e figli sull’orlo di una crisi di nervi by Loredana Cirillo and Gustavo Pietropolli Charmet