Emotional and Social Development, Ages 15 to 18 Years

Search Knowledgebase

Topic Contents

Emotional and Social Development, Ages 15 to 18 Years

Topic Overview

Older teens may seem mature at times, but they often will still have periods of childish behaviour. Those who have not yet established a personal identity and sense of independence may try defining themselves through rebellious or difficult behaviour. Teens learn about themselves through expanding their relationships beyond close same-sex friendships and through exposure to different world views and lifestyles.

It is normal for teens to experiment with or focus a lot on clothing, hair, jewellery, tattoos, piercings, political viewpoints, or speech. While parents often wonder if their teenagers are vain, this behaviour is a way to "practice" and evaluate how they appear to others and to help define who they are. Usually teens outgrow it as they mature.

Teens become more comfortable with their own identity in the later teen years, and their peers become less important. Teens begin to spend time in groups of boys and girls and also go out on one-on-one dates. They may form strong bonds with adult mentors or younger children. Teens learn about themselves through these relationships and by finding out about different world views and lifestyles.

In a natural step from childhood to adulthood, teens begin to seek intimate relationships, which become an important part of their identity. Some teens' emotional investment in such relationships is immense, which makes them vulnerable. Parents can help by recognizing when relationships are getting more intense and by talking openly, without judgment, about the possible future effects.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last Revised June 10, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.