Psychology of the Child and the Adolescent

By Robert I. Watson; Henry Clay Lindgren | Go to book overview

cated to defying regulations. Others were hard to classify. One was an adolescent who seemed like a listless oddball, who had only average IQ and grades below par. He left the community, made up high-school deficiencies, and became a talented architect. Still another, a self- centered social isolate as an adolescent, grew up to become a responsible business executive.

Macfarlane said that the high percentage of wrong predictions resulted from the tendency of the psychologists to overweigh the negative and seemingly pathological aspects of the personalities of the children and adolescents and to overlook elements that were maturity- producing. They also underrated the capacity of adolescents to unlearn ineffective patterns of behavior and to learn new ones. Still another reason--one that is especially significant for our study of adolescent development--is that "no one becomes mature without living through the pains and confusions of maturing experiences.

Macfarlane's observations should not be taken as a rejection of scientific research in the field of child and adolescent development. She had no quarrel with the data--merely with the interpretations. The predictions probably made sense in terms of the data that had been gathered and the theories of child development that prevailed at the time. With more data and better theories, we will be able to understand children and adolescents more adequately and make more valid predictions. The main task of the scientist is not prediction, however, but gathering the data and making sense of them. Prediction is only a test that enables us to find out whether our observations and interpretations were valid. This is why we need more data and better theories.


summary

Western urbanized societies demand much of adults in the way of attention and maintenance. Young people, left on their own, form adolescent subcultures, which are unstable and do little to protect them from the crises and painful experiences of growing up.

The dependent relationship between children and parents is placed under strain because children change faster than parents do. Parents are left unsure how much love and direction a child needs; children often resist both. This disparity between what children need and what adults want to offer becomes acute during adolescence, and disagreements on that subject become aggravated by adult demands that adolescents conform to acceptable behavior standards and also express responsibility.

Some adolescents deny their residual emotional and functional dependence on adults by flight into some form of delinquency. Most adolescents work through the problems, relying on their growing ability

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