Identity Development: Definition and Adolescents Identity Development

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 1
Words: 297
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: Bachelor

Define Identity Development

As children grow and develop with time, they go through many stages of forming their identity. Adolescents experience many crucial changes and shifts in their personalities and behavior when they become adolescents. There are several theories on identity development and how this process affects teenagers. Erik Erikson created one of the most famous theories, claiming that identity development is discontinuous, and after certain phases of life, it is fully formed (Maree, 2021). In general, identity development is the process by which a person starts to form a unique and independent personality with particular traits, stimuli, and motives. It is influenced by internal and external factors like social surroundings, family, events, and self-courses.

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How Might Adolescents Need Support with Identity Development?

The foundation of a child’s identity starts to form and shape from a very young age. Thus, the closest people who can contribute and assist adolescents in their identity development are their parents. Parents from the beginning should be very respectful and attentive towards the children, show them support and build a strong connection, so teenagers can trust them and start an open conversation. When adolescents are struggling with some issues or have an identity crisis, they should feel that their closest people accept them and, without judgment, can help solve the problem. Teachers and other adults in the surrounding, when they see changes in the behavior, might gently ask the adolescent about it and, if needed, contact their parents to inform them about the child’s state. When adolescents are confused about something, adults, parents, or psychologists must explain certain phenomena and provide them with guidance. Therefore, teenagers should feel encouraged to express themselves freely, demonstrate their negative and positive emotions, get assistance in confusing situations, and know they can trust their closest adults.


Maree, J. G. (2021). The psychosocial development theory of Erik Erikson: A critical overview. Early Child Development and Care, 191 (7-8), 1107-1121.