Emotional and Social Development of Your 17-Year-Old Teen

Here's what you can expect from your 17-year-old

Most 17-year-olds are looking forward to a bright future.
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Seventeen is an interesting age for most teens. While many of them are looking forward to a bright future beyond high school, others are terrified about entering the adult world.

And for parents, raising a 17-year-old can be a little scary. Have you taught your teen everything he's going to need to know to become a responsible adult? It's important to evaluate his development and assist him accordingly before he enters into the real world.

Better Emotion Regulation Skills

For the most part, a 17-year-old teen's moods are calmer than they were in earlier teen years. This is due to fewer hormonal shifts and an increased sense of control.

That doesn't mean your teen won't struggle with his emotions when he faces a big problem. Whether he's dealing with a broken heart or a college rejection letter, many 17-year-olds are dealing with adult-sized problems for the first time.

It's a great time to continue working with your teen on how to deal with failure and how to handle tough situations. Teach him to be assertive and make sure he has healthy coping skills, anger management skills, and problem-solving skills.

Thinking About the Future

Most 17-year-olds are goal-oriented. They're beginning to imagine what type of life they want to create beyond high school.

Moving out of the house may be scary for many teens, however. Those who are insecure or those who lack direction, may feel pressure to find a quick career goal, like joining the military, if they aren't college-bound.

It's important to hold ongoing conversations with your teen about her options. If she's lacking in maturity, staying home for a bit after high school could give her some extra time to gain the skills she needs to be successful.

The Quest for Independence

Your 17-year-old will likely want more freedom and responsibility.

It's important to give her as much as freedom as she can safely handle.

Allowing her to drive a car, get a job, and stay home alone for the night are just a few steps toward becoming an adult. It's important to reign your child in, however, if she is making poor choices.

Drinking, experimenting with drugs, speeding, and missing curfew are signs she's not ready to handle too much responsibility yet. Follow through with consequences to teach your teen that she still needs some assistance making healthy decisions for herself.

Worried That Your 17-year-old Teen's Development Isn't Normal?

If the thought of sending your 17-year-old out into the real world within the next year terrifies you, you're not alone. Many parents can't imagine their teen navigating the adult world independently.

But, often, there's a lot of growth between age 17 and 18. And within that year, teens become ready to enter college or the working world.

If you're concerned about your teen's ability to manage his emotions or he's making poor social choices, consider seeking professional help. Talk to his doctor about your concerns and discuss whether a referral to a mental health professional is warranted.