Social and Emotional Development: Your 14-Year-Old Teen

An In-Depth Look at Your 14-Year-Old Teen's Social and Emotional Development

Mixed race teenage girl using an ipad
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For 14-year-old teens, puberty has become old news. Getting more and more privileges and freedom from parents and "little kid rules" are what's important. Fourteen-year-old teens feel pretty happy with themselves, as much of the angst from the changes they've been going through levels off and they've gotten used to no longer being a young child anymore. While parents can breathe a sigh of relief that there are fewer mood swings, be wary of the happy, smiling 14-year-old, as he or she often wants something.

Fourteen-year-old teens love trying new things, sometimes many new things all at once. They are aware of their own capabilities and are in search of their "thing." It's important at this time to allow your teen to do new things at a pace that you, as a family, will be able to keep up with while your teen is also performing his or her responsibilities, such as school work. A strong sense of accomplishment and confidence comes from being involved in activities; this lends to a good sense of self-esteem and identity. So, allow activities and hobbies as much as you and they are able to do.

14-Year-Old Teens Want to Be Liked

Fourteen-year-olds want to be liked and be a part of the group. They want, sometimes desperately, to be accepted by their peers. Individuality is not important to them; most of the time they will be embarrassed if they are singled out by a teacher or by you. Your teen may get anxious if they are not being accepted by their peer group.

They may start feeling bad about themselves. If you find this is happening, try to get your teen involved in a club, sport, community activity or youth group that includes other teens with your teen's interests and hobbies. School peer groups are hit-and-miss. Finding like-minded friends sometimes takes a little more effort.

Parents, Toughen Your Skin!

Fourteen-year-old teens like to compare and contrast everything under the sun to you, their parents. And you will fall short in their eyes. Not only will they let you know where you fall short, but they are embarrassed by you for it. (Ouch!) This is the age where teens do not want to be seen in public with their parents. Try not to get offended! This, too, is normal.

Talk to your teen about this if they have gone too far, and let them know you find their words or behavior toward you insulting. While you don't want to cause a scene in front of their friends - my best friend's mom used to scream, "Stab me through the heart with this!" and clasp her chest - that's too far. Sometimes, your teen will need to be reminded that you are a person with feelings, too.

You will also want to ask your 14-year-old what they feel the boundaries are when it comes to you being seen with them in public, to avoid embarrassment. For instance, if the entire family is going to the high school basketball game, you should set the rules: no hugging them or telling them how cute they are when they act all grown up.

And they should be able to mumble a hello and half a wave as they walk by. This will help them feel more independent and less worried that their parents will blow it for them in front of their peers.

Worried That You 14-year-old Teen's Development Isn't Normal?

Many parents of 14-year-old teens worry that their social and emotional development is too fast or not fast enough. Or parents start to see warning signs of substance abuse or signs of mental health problems as adolescence is often the time social and emotional problems surface. If this is true for your teen, seek help right away.

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