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Adolescents - Conducting the Experiments: An Excerpt From Ready or Not, Here Life Comes

This book tackles the topic of transition to young adulthood - with a special advice for teens.

By Mel Levine, M.D.

Today's teens - whether or not they have learning difficulties - face many challenges as they transition to young adulthood. In his new book, Ready or Not, Here Life Comes, Dr. Mel Levine offers sound advice and insight that can help adolescents and "startup adults" - with an assist from parents and educators - to spring from the starting gate of adulthood. Following is an excerpt from chapter 13 of the book.

The ages between eleven and twenty teem with tales of trial and error. Teenagers have to shape and reshape the ways they think and act in response to the upheavals in their minds and bodies. They continually inspect and evaluate relationships, including with their parents, their brothers and sisters, their friends, and their teachers. Life is in a state of flux. As if that's not enough of a roller coaster, disappointments in oneself are common - the failed science quiz, the college rejection letter, the three newest acne lesions, the failure to make the field hockey team, or a loss in the city championship football semifinals. Amid such day-to-day turbulence, how can a teenager spare the time and energy to look ahead and prepare for life after adolescence? How can an adolescent get ready for the startup years of adulthood? How can she feel she's moving forward on the right track? It can very be hard, but it has to happen.

Teens can take five forms of action to avoid spinning their wheels on the trip to work-life readiness:

Actions for Traction

  • Right reactions
  • Self-finding
  • Mastery
  • Putting everyday life in compartments
  • Tentative planning

Right Reactions

Adolescence is hilly terrain. A fifteen-year-old can have a terrific time with a friend and then be incensed with that person thirty-six hours later. A teacher can make a ninth grader feel like a winner, while another teacher blasts away at the foundations of his ego. Parents can say and do nice things on one occasion only to come across as arbitrary and mean-spirited at other times. The challenge is learning how to react to these heavy crosscurrents.