Skip to content

Health & Parenting

Font Size

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 behavior. Those who have not yet established a personal identity and sense of independence may try defining themselves through rebellious or difficult behavior. Teens learn about themselves through expanding their relationships beyond close same-sex friendships and through finding out about different world views and lifestyles.

It is normal for teens to experiment with or focus a lot on clothing, hair, jewelry, tattoos, piercings, political viewpoints, or speech. While parents often wonder if their teenagers are vain, this behavior 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.

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.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 06, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Emotional and Social Development, Ages 15 to 18 Years Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Slideshow
    Young woman holding lip at dentists office
    Video
     
    Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    tissue box
    Quiz
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow