Emotional and Social Development, Ages 15 to 18 Years
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.
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
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.