• Adolescence is one of our most pivotal developmental stages, and yet many of us are yet to understand its full impact

  • Dr Lucy Foulkes takes a deep dive into the latest research in her new book Coming of Age

Adolescence is one of the most dramatic and formative period of our lives. It is when we become who we are, when the smallest things can have life-long effects. But it is also full of contradictions, making it bewildering to live through and widely misunderstood. We may struggle to understand the adolescents in our lives, but most of us have yet to come to terms with our own adolescence.

In her book Coming of Age, academic psychologist Dr Lucy Foulkes draws on the latest research and in-depth interviews to demystify adolescent behaviours – friendship, risk-taking, sex, love, bullying and more – and expose the surprising and often moving reality beneath them. We see that teenagers are far more conservative than rebellious; that apparent recklessness is often calculated and risk-averse; that popularity is a mixed blessing even as friendships can be a life-changing good. We understand why social hierarchies are so fiercely policed, even while adolescents have an extraordinary capacity for empathy and mutual support; why appearances are overly important, and why rejection at this age hurts so much. We see that even the most difficult experiences are part of this essential and life-shaping process of self-discovery.

Foulkes 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.

Watch our interview with Dr Lucy Foulkes here:

Dr Lucy Foulkes is the author of Coming of Age

Further reading

How parents can manage anxiety around teenagers becoming idependent

Quarterlife: Why early adulthood is such a pivotal period

What story are you telling yourself?

The birth of the false self: Surviving a difficult childhood