Adolescence the new high school environment.Schoolwork isn’t the

Adolescence is a time of lots of changes, which can cause a lot of stress in a teen’s life. In this lesson, we’ll look at adjustment and maladaptive behaviors in adolescence, including how each manifests in teens’ lives.


Daisy is 15, and she has a lot going on in her life.

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She’s a freshman in high school, which has come with a lot of stress. She also got her first period a few months ago, and she’s still not used to that yet.Daisy is in adolescence, or the time of life between childhood and adulthood, usually encompassing the teenage years. During adolescence, people go through many changes that can bring on stress: they develop physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually.

But what happens when things in a person’s life change so rapidly? How can they deal with the changes? Let’s look at two ways that adolescents deal with the changes the teen years bring: adjustment and maladaptive behaviors.


School used to be pretty easy for Daisy. She almost never studied and only spent an hour or so doing homework each night. All that changed, though, when she got to high school.

Suddenly, she felt overwhelmed: the work was a lot harder, and she spent hours and hours every day studying and doing homework.Daisy has had to go through a period of adjustment, or changing one’s behavior to reach harmony with the environment. When Daisy discovered that high school was a lot harder, she could have left her behaviors as they were and spent only an hour or so every day doing homework and studying. Instead, Daisy adjusted her behaviors to spend more time every day on schoolwork.

This is how her behaviors are changing so that Daisy can reach harmony (in the form of continued success) in the new high school environment.Schoolwork isn’t the only change in Daisy’s life, either. Like many people her age, Daisy is going through physical changes. Thanks to the hormonal changes in adolescence, Daisy is dealing with sexual and reproductive changes.

She’s started her period, and she’s feeling stronger sexual feelings than she used to. She’s also going through emotional changes, including feeling more emotional than usual.All of these changes mean that Daisy and teens like her have a lot to adjust to! And while Daisy is doing her best to deal with everything, sometimes it’s very difficult. When adolescents do not adjust well, it can lead to depression, anxiety and other emotional problems, so it’s very important that Daisy continue to try to adjust, and it’s equally important that the people in her life (especially the adults around her) support her as she does.

Maladaptive Behaviors

Daisy is trying to deal with the stress of adolescence.

But sometimes, it just seems too much. When she feels really overwhelmed, she sometimes cuts herself to feel better. Not deeply, not enough to really put herself in danger, just enough to feel a little bit of a release of stress.Maladaptive behaviors are behaviors that do not allow a person to reach harmony with the environment. Often, they are a way of dealing with the stress of change that is so much a part of adolescence.

Daisy’s cutting is an example of a maladaptive behavior, but it’s not the only one. Some of her friends skip meals or make themselves throw up. Besides cutting, eating disorders are sadly common issues in adolescence.Other adolescents act out in different ways. Substance abuse becomes a problem for many teenagers, as they try to deal with the stress of adolescence through drinking or drugs. Daisy has noticed that a lot of students in her class have started going to parties more and more.

It doesn’t really help them, but it makes them feel better in the short-term.Some students turn their stress outward, towards other students. Bullying and other violence are also maladaptive behaviors that students try out. For example, one of Daisy’s classmates, Jonah, has started calling other kids names and starting fights.

It’s his way of dealing with the changes that are occurring in his life, even if it’s not the best way to deal.

Lesson Summary

Adolescence is a time of great change in a person’s life. In order to deal with the stress of development, teenagers can either change their behaviors in a positive way, a process called adjustment, or in a negative way, which leads to maladaptive behaviors.

Learning Outcomes

When this lesson is over, you should be able to

  • Identify the difficulties faced by adolescents
  • Understand the need for balance and adjustment to changes both physical and emotional
  • Recognize how negative adjustment is maladaptive behavior

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