Your 15-Year-Old Teen's Social and Emotional Development

An in-depth look at your 15-year-old teen's development

This is what you should expect from your 15-year-old.
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By the time your teen turns 15, you've probably thought about the fact that you're only a few short years away from adulthood. And if your teen seems light years away from being emotionally and socially mature enough to succeed in the adult world, you're not alone.

But don't worry. Those years between 15 and 18 can be instrumental in helping your teen mature and gain the skills she needs to become a responsible adult.

There's a good chance, however, that your teen will think she's ready to take on the world now. And she may insist she already knows everything. That know-it-all attitude with a hint of rebellion can be par for the course for 15-year-olds. 

Social Development

At this age, friends become more important. And your teen may begin to express interests in romantic relationships. Many 15-year-olds are influenced by peer pressure.

Your 15-year-old is seeing some tough issues with peers that he might not want to tell you about. That, combined with the need for greater independence, may cause your teen to seem distant at times.

Your 15-year-old might argue if you try to ask too many questions about his day or what's going on in his life. And while it's important to offer some privacy, it's important to make sure you know what's going on with your teen.

Emotional Development

At the age of 15, teens start to think about what it would be like to live out on their own. While some teens may be imagining college, others may be thinking about getting their own apartment.

They often watch their older peers get jobs, graduate from high school, and enter into the real world. You may get questions that shock you, such as, "What do you think of me not going to college?" 

Your 15-year-old may become stressed about grades, relationships, and other teenage issues. And she may be very concerned with her appearance.

As your teen begins to develop her sense of self, she may struggle to discover who she is as an individual. She may struggle with self-confidence and may have high expectations of herself.

Let Your Teen Earn Privileges

Teens mature at slightly different rates. Some 15-year-olds are ready to learn how to drive and they're able to manage almost all of their responsibilities on their own. Others, however, can't remember to clean their rooms and struggle to get their homework done on time. 

Make your teen's privileges contingent on his ability to be responsible. Tell him he can earn freedom by showing you that he's able to handle more independence.

A later curfew could be tied to getting his chores done. Taking driver's education could be linked to getting good grades. 

Expect to hear things like, "If I'm home by curfew, why do I need to tell you where I'm going?" Make it clear that by following your rules and telling you where he's going, he's demonstrating he can handle more responsibility.

Most 15-year-olds aren't ready for as much freedom as they think they can handle. So it's important to set healthy limits and follow through with clear consequences.

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 illness as adolescence is often the time social and emotional problems surface.

If you are concerned about your teen's development, talk to the doctor. If your child's doctor has concerns, your child may be referred to a mental health provider for further evaluation.

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