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Social and Emotional Development: Your 16-Year-Old Teen

An In-Depth Look at Your 16-year-old Teen's Social and Emotional Development

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Updated September 23, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

social emotional development 16 year old teen girl
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Social and Emotional Development in Teens: 13-Year-Old Teen | 14-Year-Old Teen | 15-Year-Old Teen | 17-Year-Old Teen | 18-Year-Old Teen

Sixteen-year-old teens are comfortable in their own skin and know the ropes as to the life around them. They've learned much about themselves in the past few years and are able to see when they are at their best and when they are at their worst. They also see the best and worst of their parents, which will gain you some criticisms and complements - often right out of the blue.

Try not to take the criticisms as insults, although you will want to remind your teen not to talk to people - parents included - rudely, even if it is the truth. Also, remind them that it is sometimes kinder to keep things to themselves. You may find throughout your teen's 16th year, you want to carry a book of manners with you. Not to cite them constantly to your teen, but to just remember that you do know them and yes, taught them at some point to this child.

Independence Is Still the Name of the Game

Sixteen-year-old teens are gaining in independent life skills and should be honing those skills they do not have or are not good at. At this age, a teen not only wants to be able to do things independently - like the 15-year-old - but they also want you to know they have the ability. They are getting their driving permits and gaining a feeling of freedom and independence when they pass those tests. Many begin working at a part-time or seasonal job. These teens often grow in maturity and gain even more confidence in their independent abilities. The flip side of that can be overconfidence; therefore, you will need to teach your teen to keep themselves in check.

As a parent, you can put your teen's life skills and abilities to work for their positive growth. Teach your teen to do their own laundry, take care of their living space and practice driving by running some errands for their family's needs. All of this will show your teen that with independence and freedom, come responsibilities.

16-Year-Old Teens Form Close Emotional Ties with Friends and the Opposite Sex

The 16-year-old teen can get very emotionally attached to friends and the opposite sex. They now have the ability to form strong attachments to others. But teens aren't always able to use that ability or control their feelings when, for example, the other teen does not feel the same way about them. This can lead to some heartbreaking times.

I have to say, my own teen heartbreaks back-in-the-day were nothing compared to watching my daughter's first breakup.

You will also want to keep a close eye on any emotional manipulation that can happen at this age. Peer pressure can be very tough to handle. Add some emotional manipulation by a guy or girl whom your teen wants to date, and your teen may do things you never thought they would. You can help prevent this by talking about the choices they have when someone tries to manipulate them. To start these conversations, use television shows as ice breakers, as opposed to mentioning your teen's real-world friends. Trust me - you'll get father with your point.

Mostly Happy and Are Interested in the Here-and-Now

The 16-year-old teenager is mostly interested in what is happening right now and doesn't often look to their own future without prodding from parents. It is too far ahead for them to worry about, so they don't. But they will engage in a conversation about the different fun possibilities that may lie ahead. They also tend to be happy with what they are doing. They go with the flow and are socially active.

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

Many parents of 16-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.

Social and Emotional Development in Teens: 13-Year-Old Teen | 14-Year-Old Teen | 15-Year-Old Teen | 17-Year-Old Teen | 18-Year-Old Teen

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