Healthy Identity Formation

In the early years of adolescence, teenagers begin to form their identity or self-concept, which is defined by their attitudes, attributes, abilities, values and much more. This phase is characterized by rapid and extensive physical and psychological changes, and thus, an evolving self-identity. While growing, adolescents encounter new situations and constantly push their boundaries, face transitions, discover new meanings, experience diverse things, explore new relationships, leading to a continuous process of change in their self-identity. This struggle of instability, choosing from alternative and confusion can sometimes lead an adolescent to develop an inadequate self-identity or self-conflict, often termed as 'identity crisis'.  Appropriate guidance in this phase of life is of utmost importance, to facilitate the development of a healthy identity, which acts as a cornerstone for developing a healthy adult personality. 
 
Facilitating a Healthy Identity Formation:
 
  • Working on fundamental issues of trust, autonomy, and initiative.
  • Laying emphasis on healthy and positive values, such as respect, compassion, hard work, positive thinking which will help in shaping an adolescent's self-identity. 
  • Talking out and listening to the adolescent is important as communication plays a vital role in any relationship. It is important to know and be updated with what is happening in your child's life, however, with the balance of being just a facilitator, and not being an over-involved, inquisitive parent. 
  • Being an adequate model for the adolescent, i.e., parents serve to model the behaviours they would want their children to adopt. Therefore, as a parent, one needs to monitor one's own behaviour. 
  • The role of a parent is vital in providing support to the adolescent, to guide and encourage them and to be able to listen to them. Parent's companionship, physical affection and understanding, contributes to a healthy identity formation in adolescents. Evidence supports that warm, healthy and communicative parental relationship leads to competent behaviour and strong self-identity in adolescents.
  • Honing special talents or hobbies inculcates a sense of confidence in adolescents.
 
"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are." - Bernice Johnson Reagon