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

An In-Depth Look at Your 17-year-old Teen's Social and Emotional Development

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Updated June 11, 2014

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

Teenage boy using laptop and doing homework
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Quick Links: Your 17-Year-Old Teen

Social and Emotional Development in Teens: 13-Year-Old Teen | 14-Year-Old Teen | 15-Year-Old Teen | 16-Year-Old Teen | 18-Year-Old Teen

Seventeen-year-old teens are more in-control of their moods and emotions. They form stronger relationships and are able to build strong bonds with friends. No more flitting back and forth between cliques. They begin to see their future and can feel both excited and apprehensive about it. The 17-year-old teen has less conflict with parents but will still push for more independence. They will act independently. Parents will see a difference in maturity at this age, as 17-year-old teens tend to take more responsibility for themselves.

A 17-Year-Old Teen's Moods Are Calm

For the most part, a 17-year-old teen's moods are calmer than they were in earlier years. This is due to less teen angst and fewer growing pains. The fact that they have more control over what is going on in their lives and have gained some independence help keep the mood swings of younger years in check.

That doesn't mean that a teen will not be emotional when faced with a situation they don't have the social skills to handle or if a tragedy happens in their lives. Teens at this age lack experiences, and this lack can place them on an emotional roller coaster until they do gain some know-how.

For instance, a teen who gets a part-time job and has to deal with a co-worker who undermines them by taking credit for the teen's work will get angry. The teen who is not used to dealing with difficult people at work will see the situation as unfair and may do something wrong because of their anger, which could cause them to lose their job. The 17-year-old teen will feel validated because of their actions, but the fact remains that they are the one without a job. Learning life skills and social skills sometimes takes this type of trial-and-error experience as your teen's social and emotional development continues to mature.

Seventeen-Year-Old Teens Look Toward the Future and Get Excited

The year of being 17 is a time for dreaming and looking forward to where your teen wants to go and what they want to do. The world is their oyster and they get to pick and choose the one with the biggest pearl. While they may be apprehensive, they are less so than when the future is imminent at age 18. Right now the future still seems like an exciting adventure.

Parents will begin to hear things prefaced with such words as, "When I go to college..." or "When I move out..." This is simply more of the same independence pushing that your older teen has been doing since they started puberty, except now they are beginning to have the life skills to actually make it happen. This is a good thing. Remember parents, we are working ourselves out of a job.

Push for More Independence and Need for More Responsibility

Teens will feel the need to be even more independent from you, and you may find that you enjoy their independence as much as they do. They enjoy having the freedom to drive to a friend's house or out to the movies. You may enjoy the fact that you no longer have to drive them around. By now, you have your family rules about drinking, drugs and other youth risk behaviors and you trust that your teen knows them and will abide by them. You'll still need to keep up the reminders and know where your 17-year-old is and what they are doing; this will help prevent any problems from cropping up.

But there is less conflict, making your teen's 17th year pretty happy for everyone all around.

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

Many parents of 17-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 | 16-Year-Old Teen | 18-Year-Old Teen

Quick Links: Your 17-Year-Old Teen

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