Reflective Essay on Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence

3 pages
581 words
George Washington University
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Puberty refers to a period of rapid physical changes that occur in adolescence and involves hormonal and body changes. This event signifies the change from childhood to adulthood thus signifying sexual maturity. On average, girls undergo puberty at the ages of nine to fifteen. The puberty sequence for boys begins at the age of ten to thirteen years. However, one can experience early or late maturation. These changes accelerate in puberty and become complete when a person fully matures. They are brought about by signals being sent from the brain to the body hormones which in turn change the different parts of the body.

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Body Changes During Puberty

I experienced this development at the age of twelve. Being a young girl, I had my first menstruation which was a new experience for me. My breasts began to enlarge, and my hips also broadened. I also started growing pubic hair and having acne on my face as my face became oily. All these physical changes made my body appear bigger compared to girls my age who had not reached puberty.

How Does Puberty Influence Self-Esteem?

This timing affected my cognitive development in that I began having low self-esteem. I started becoming pre-occupied with my body image and this continued throughout adolescence. I became so self-conscious and always was sensitive to comments made by other people around me. Boys made fun of me because of my breasts, and this caused me to develop a negative perception of everything about me, especially how I looked. I spent a long time every day looking at myself in the mirror, and all I could tell myself was that I was not beautiful. It was not until my mother realized my struggles that she encouraged me to see myself positively. As I began doing so, I was able to have high self-esteem, and this helped me to interact with others well with no shame about my changing body.

Risks Associated With Puberty

Adolescents experience puberty at different ages. With it comes various changes regarding sleep patterns, eating styles, and even behavior. This stage can be such a confusing time, and without someone guiding them, they may end up making wrong decisions. Peer pressure is the most influencing factor that causes young boys and girls to have strong emotions that did not exist before. Due to the emotional changes that occur, they tend to be moody and can be easily upset. They experience difficulties that make them have fights with their families because they think they are right in whatever they do. Young boys and girls who are in the adolescent stage at times begin to indulge in alcoholism. This behavior distracts them from their studies and affects their health negatively. They also get involved in sexual activities that are not beneficial. Some girls then find themselves being pregnant and being mothers at a young age and boys become fathers. These sexual activities can also cause them to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases. The wrong decisions they make lead them to lose focus on their goals in life.


Physical and cognitive development accelerates in adolescence and it is at this stage that a girl becomes a young woman and a boy becomes a young man. With the right kind of information, one can appreciate who they are. Adolescents also can learn to manage their sexual feelings and regulate their sexual behavior. Thus, it ensures that we raise responsible young men and women in society.

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