Coming of Age

Coming of Age

How Adolescence Shapes Us

Summary

Adolescence is the most formative yet misunderstood period of our lives. At a time of heightened concern about teenagers, Coming of Age draws on a decade of expert research to get beneath the stereotypes, expose the myths and reveal the important reasons why teens behave the way they do.

'Wonderful and deeply moving . . . shows us the potentially positive aspects of adolescent experiences so often seen as negative' MARK HADDON

'Excellent and insightful . . . expertly presented . . . Foulkes is steeped in knowledge about, as well as respect for, teenage life' Observer

Covering all the characteristic behaviours of adolescents - from peer pressure and risk-taking, to sex, love, bullying, friendship and more - adolescent psychologist Lucy Foulkes shows that time and again we mistake, dismiss and even try to prevent what is actually normal and healthy. Among many surprising insights, she explains why self-consciousness, anxiety and sensation-seeking are crucial features of this developmental phase. She shows that teenagers are socially conservative as much as rebellious, and that apparent recklessness is usually calculated. She reveals why being popular can be just as hard as being lonely, and why friendships at this age shape us for life.

Adolescence is often difficult, sometimes extremely so, and most of us have yet to come to terms with our own. And yet Foulkes shows that adolescents have an extraordinary capacity for resilience, empathy and mutual support, and that even the most challenging experiences are part of an essential process of self-discovery. This is why understanding adolescence is the key to understanding ourselves.

‘Thank goodness . . . for this timely . . . and eminently sensible book . . . You will read this book and sigh in recognition . . . just knowing that everything they – and we – struggle with is normal, and necessary, is helpful’ Telegraph

‘Wise and compassionate, well-researched and straight-talking . . . shows how today's adolescents can be helped to flourish in life’ Dr Gavin Francis, author of Recovery

‘Hopeful, inspiring . . . leaves you with a greater understanding of your own adolescence, and greater compassion for those currently in its throes’ Camilla Nord, author of The Balanced Brain

'Myth-busting . . . eye-opening . . . delivers many counter-intuitive insights' Guardian

‘A must read for everyone interested in what is going on with adolescents’ Essi Viding, Professor of Developmental Pyschopathy, UCL

‘Compelling, useful and fascinating . . . revealing adolescence's unwritten rules’ JO BRAND

‘Comprehensive, accessible and super useful’ Dr Tara Porter, clinical psychologist and author of You Don't Understand Me

Reviews

  • Thank goodness . . . for this timely . . . and eminently sensible book . . . You will read this book and sigh in recognition . . . just knowing that everything they – and we – struggle with is normal, and necessary, is helpful
    Lucy Denyer, Telegraph

About the author

Lucy Foulkes

Dr Lucy Foulkes is an academic psychologist. She is currently a Prudence Trust Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, where she leads research into adolescent mental health and social development. She is also an honorary lecturer in psychology at UCL. She is the author of What Mental Illness Really Is (and What It Isn't) and has written for the Guardian, New Scientist and other publications. Her work has been discussed on BBC 2’s Newsnight and reported in The Times, Economist, New York Times and Atlantic, and she has appeared on BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind and Start the Week.
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