Your Complete Guide to Parenting a 15-Year-Old

Help teaching teenager about distracted driving
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By the time most teens turn 15, they’re rather independent. Yet, the vast majority of them struggle to recognize their limitations. As a result, parenting a 15-year-old can be an interesting experience.

Understanding your teen’s development can be instrumental to successful parenting during mid-adolescence. Here’s what you can expect from your 15-year-old:

Emotional Development

While some teens still feel awkward and insecure at 15, others start to gain a fair amount of self-confidence. Most teens want a fair amount of freedom at this age, which can lead to frequent disagreements over rules - like curfew times - common.

Irritability and mood swings can still be a common problem for many teens at this age. It’s important to keep an eye out for depression and other mental health problems, as mental illness often emerges during adolescence.

Social Development

By age 15, many teens have a strong interest in romantic relationships. Often, relationships at this age involve a lot of conversation via social media and text messaging, with less face-to-face contact.

Don’t be alarmed if your teen wants to spend a lot of time in his room by himself. Unless you see warning signs of mental health problems, an increased desire for privacy can be normal.

Some teens at this age can talk to their friends all evening, despite seeing them all day at school. Yet when asked about their day by their parents, they may have very little to say.

Cognitive Development

It’s normal for teens to be rather argumentative at this stage. No matter what you say, your teen may argue the opposite point. That’s your teen’s way of asserting his independence.

Many teens begin thinking more about their future during this time. They’re usually able to start identifying potential career aspirations or college plans.

While 15-year-olds tend to have more advanced problem-solving skills and better impulse control, they don’t always use their skills in a healthy manner. As a result, many of them make poor decisions and need a fair amount of guidance about how to stay safe and make better decisions for the future.

Physical Development

Most girls have reached their full height by age 15. Many of them are insecure about their appearance, especially their weight.

Boys may still grow for another year or two. Usually, around this age, their voices become deeper and they may begin to grow facial hair. They tend to gain muscle rapidly at this age.

Parenting Tips for Raising a 15-Year-Old

Here are some things to keep in mind when raising a 15-year-old:

  • Be aware of body image issues. Middle adolescence is a prime time for eating disorders and body image problems. It’s not just girls - many teen boys have body image problems as well. Keep an eye out for changes in eating habits, excessive concern overweight, or increased exercise. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns.
  • Encourage healthy habits. Although most 15-year-olds think they’re close to being adults, most of them struggle to maintain healthy habits. Provide guidance around issues like sleep, exercise, and eating habits. Set limits on electronics use as well, as most teens can’t handle unlimited freedom with their digital devices.
  • Emphasize safety issues. Many 15-year-olds start riding in cars with older friends and car crashes are the number one cause of death in this age group. Talk to your teen about wearing a seatbelt and discuss other safety issues as well - such as wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Encourage healthy relationships. At this age, most teens still struggle a bit with maintaining healthy relationships, with peers and in their budding romantic interests. Make sure your teen is hanging out with healthy people and establish clear dating rules.