Social and Emotional Development: Your 15-Year-Old Teen

An In-Depth Look at Your 15-year-old Teen's Social and Emotional Development

social emotional development fifteen year old teen boy
Photo cassandrajowett on flickr.

Fifteen-year-old teens are pushing their parents to do more and more on their own, and they do not want to have to ask permission to do it. They are often assertive to the point of pushing their limits too far. Independence is the name of the game for a 15-year-old, and they are going to try and grab as much of it as possible.

The difference between a 13-year-old teen trying to gain some independence and a 15-year-old teen is that the latter doesn't want to seek your permission to do something independently.

They perhaps want to tell you about it later. Parents will hear things like, "If I'm home by curfew, why do I need to tell you where I'm going?" This is tough, because they still feel invincible and may not believe you when you explain that it is not safe to run around town without people knowing where they are. Add youth risk behaviors to the mix, and parents have every reason to be worried about their 15-year-olds.

The Future Is Real As the 15-Year-Old Watches Older Peers

At the age of 15, teens start to think about what it would be like to live out on their own. Some of their classmates in high school will be older. Your teen may be watching to see how they handle being independent and what the future holds for them. They might compare their observations to what they are allowed to do and what they want to do in their future. You may get questions that shock you, such as, "What do you think of me not going to college?" or "What would you do if I got my girlfriend pregnant?" because these things are happening to teens they know at school.

When you do get these questions, remain calm. Answer their questions as matter-of-factually as possible. For instance, if my son asked me the question about impregnating his girlfriend I would first ask, "Is this a problem we are currently facing?" After he assures me it isn't and he just "wants to know," I would let him know that I would be there for him.

Then, I would turn it back on him with a "What would you do?" and continue enjoying a conversation with my son while he is willing to talk.

On the flip side, your 15-year-old is seeing some tough issues with peers that they do not want to tell you about. That, combined with the need for greater independence, makes for a quiet dinner table. Your teenager may even get upset and quarrel if you push them into talking about their day. This is a good time to talk about simple things, like the meal or the high school basketball game you saw the night before. Don't pry or get upset with their lack of communication unless you feel strongly that your teen is in some trouble.

Lastly, your 15-year-old may feel the need to push family away and not rely on you as much as they have in their need for more independence. As long as your teen is following the rules and taking care of their responsibilities, this is okay and will help your teen's self-confidence and self esteem. Try to be proactive here and give some privileges without having to be asked for them.

Pay attention to times when you could let your teen make their own decision and then let them know that it is their decision to make. This is a great way to build trust - your relationship with your teen will benefit from it.

Worried That You 15-year-old Teen's Development Isn't Normal?

Many parents of 15-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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