The transition from child to adolescent en route to adulthood is complex but ,on the whole, predictable whether living in a developed or developing country. There are , however, marked differences between cultures as to how that transition is 'celebrated.'
In Western culture, adolescence is fairly gradual and not clear-cut. There are religious events that may mark the end or start of the next phase, such as Bar (Bat)- Mitzvahs and confirmations. In other cultures, however, the progression is, sometimes, severe, with initiations lasting weeks and in the Apache Indians of the southwestern United States rituals lasting several days and involving special clothing and singing. These factors do then affect the relationship between the different dimensions of development.
There are many factors influencing development; hence a multidimensional approach. The variables within a family, including the social status of the parents, the neighborhood,the order in which children are born, become crucial to understanding.
Research by Lewis and Morris (1998) outline(s) a list of five basic needs for positive development in children:
A personal relationship with a caring adult
A safe place to live
A healthy start toward the(ir) future
A marketable skill to use after ...high school
An opportunity to contribute to the community
The intention of the multidimensional approach is to create a 'whole' child. Any analysis must include the links between physical, emotional, social and cognitive development.
The National Children's Strategy, 2000 outlines and recognizes the connection between all the phases in the creation of the perfect scenario, thereby giving any child the best chance.
In all of the above situations, any one change can alter the dynamic. For example, a child who struggles to make friends can maybe not make the same contribution they otherwise would have done to the community.
Coping with stress and change within family groups is very prevalent in the modern environment and how a child is affected by it will affect the child's development.
Time then is of the essence. A younger child from a supportive environment may not even worry that his or her parents no longer live together - best of both worlds, even. An adolescent, on the other hand, may be devastated. The interaction with friends is interrupted - maybe a move to a different school or town is envisaged, and so on.
Self-awareness also affects the relationship between the variables and how a child or adolescent is able to move into adulthood. The importance of self can influence the transition and the maturity of a child is vital in establishing a stable path.
A multidimensional approach allows for the factors that have the most infuence in any particular environment to be considered and managed and is designed to be non-restrictive. There are many well-meaning adults who try to have an impact on a child's development but most importantly, a child, with the right tools and the most positive, supportive environment, will find the best way to make the best out of any situation....thus the 'whole' child.