16-Year-Old Teen Social and Emotional Development

Raising a 16-year-old is a challenging time.
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Sixteen-year-old teens are usually becoming more comfortable in their own skin. They've started learning more about who they are and what types of things they're capable of accomplishing.

One of the biggest concerns many parents have about middle adolescence is that most 16-year-olds think they know everything. They struggle to accept feedback and often aren't interested in hearing your constructive criticisms.

Consequently, many 16-year-olds are rude to their parents. While they may be polite at school or well-equipped to deal with a boss in a socially appropriate manner, they often don't want to deal with rules, chores, or other household responsibilities.

Independence Is Still the Name of the Game

Your 16-year-old should be gaining independent life skills. Even though she may think she is already equipped to deal with the demands of the adult world, she likely lacks many of the practical and emotional skills she's going to need to be successful.

Getting a driver's license and getting a part-time job are just a few of the milestones that can help her build healthy confidence in her skills. Meanwhile, make sure you're teaching your teen about everyday tasks, like how to take care of a home, and how to take care of her health on her own.

16-Year-Old Teens Relationships

It's healthy for 16-year-olds to have close ties to friends. Many teens establish strong attachments, so it's important to ensure he's forming healthy relationships. Your teen may also show a strong interest in romantic relationships. He may go on his first official date but he may also deal with his first major breakup around this age.

Your teen may be active on social media and you will need to discuss issues around privacy, safety, and respecting others in online social relationships.

Establish clear rules that will support your teen's efforts to make healthy choices. Talk openly and honestly about issues like alcohol, marijuana, drugs, peer pressure, and sexuality.

Help Your Teen Think About the Future 

It's normal for your teen to mostly be focused on the here-and-now. But, age 16 is an important time to start thinking about the future as well. Hold regular conversations about life after high school. Ask for your teen's thoughts about what she might want to do for a career or where she may want to live. 

Talk about various lifestyles and opportunities she has ahead of her. Even if her dreams or ideas seem a bit far-fetched, don't tell her that she can't accomplish those goals. Instead, focus on what she'd need to do to get there.

Worried That You 16-year-old Teen's Development Isn't Normal?

Middle adolescence is a common time for parents to start seeing warning signs of substance abuse or mental health problems. If you have concerns that your teen may be drinking, using drugs, or struggling with mental health issues, seek help right away. Talk to her doctor or schedule an appointment with a mental health professional.