Theoretical Paper

Characteristics of adolescent emotional development

Author: Sabina Dumitrescu
University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania

Especially in the media, but also in scientific studies, adolescents are all too frequently presented with an emphasis on problems and negative situations, such as risks, violence, accidents, alcohol and drug abuse, making teenage years look like a predominantly negative period of life.

While the physical and behavioral changes which mark adolescence may be the most visible, they are accompanied by similarly striking developments regarding brain development, acquiring new and enhanced cognitive skills, and emotional development, with focus on the sense of who they are and who they want to become.

Actually, most adolescents have rather balanced lives, attending and graduating school, being close to their families and friends, coming out as young adults without experiencing serious problems such as substance abuse or involvement with violence. And behind all the protest they may display, adolescents need adults around them and want to receive their teachings, guidance and protection on the journey to adulthood. In this sense, we believe there is a crucial role to be played in the lives of adolescents to support their emotional development and well-being.

Of course, emotional development needs to be understood in conjunction with changes in other areas, and we need to regard it by always taking into consideration the wider context, including family, school, friends and community, together with factors as gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or chronic illness, and religious beliefs (Gootman, & Eccles, 2002; Cooper, Shaver, & Collins, 1998).

Keywords: adolescent development, identity, self-esteem, emotional intelligence, social relationship, adolescents´ emotional skills