1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Social and Emotional Development in Teens Ages 13 - 18

Developmental Social and Emotional Milestones for Teenagers


Updated May 16, 2014

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

Quick Links: Teen Behavior and Daily Routines Ages 13 - 18 | Ages and Stages

Adolescence is a time of growth, development and change. Your teen will develop emotionally and socially as well as physically. This development may seem seamless to you, but there are distinct things happening in your teenager's social and emotional development that are helping them become who they are going to be - helping them to form their identity. While these changes don't follow a timeline to the date of your teen's birthday - your 14-year-old may still act like a 13-year-old socially - teens of different ages do have different social and emotional focuses and behaviors. Here we have a list of them by age.

13-Year-Old Teen Social and Emotional Development

Teen sitting alone being ignored by other teens.
Vicky Kasala/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Thirteen-year-old teens are dealing with the physical changes in their body - puberty - emotionally as well as physically. Change is not easy for most people at any age and your 13-year-old is dealing with one of the biggest changes of their lives. This will cause your young teen to feel uncertain, moody and be sensitive to what others think of them, especially their peers.

14-Year-Old Teen Social and Emotional Development

14-Year-Old Emotional Development
natalie419 on flickr
For fourteen-year-old teens, puberty has become old news and getting more and more privileges and freedom from parents and 'little kid rules' is what's important. Fourteen-year-old teens feel pretty happy with themselves as much of the angst from the changes they have been going through levels off and then have gotten used to no longer being a young child anymore. While parents can breath a sigh of relief that there are fewer mood swings, be wary of the happy smiling 14-year-old as they often want something.

15-Year-Old Teen Social and Emotional Development

social emotional development fifteen year old teen boy
Photo cassandrajowett on flickr.
Fifteen-year-old teens are pushing their parents to do more and more on their own, and they do not want to have to ask permission to do it. Independence is the name of the game for a 15-year-old and they are going to try and grab for as much of it as possible. The difference between a 13-year-old teen trying to gain some independence and a 15-year-old teen is that the latter doesn't want to have to seek your permission to do something independently.

16-Year-Old Teen Social and Emotional Development

social emotional development 16 year old teen girl
Photo goodncrazy on flickr.

Sixteen-year-old teens are comfortable in their own skin and know the ropes as to the life around them. They have 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 - oftentimes right out of the blue.

17-Year-Old Teen Social and Emotional Development

17-year-old teen development
Getty Images

Seventeen-year-old teens are more in-control of their moods and emotions. They form stronger relationships than in the past 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.

18-Year-Old Teen Social and Emotional Development

18 year old teen girl
Getty Images
The eighteen-year-old teen is on an identity quest into their future. They want to figure out where they will fit in today's world. It is a time for big change that comes with a lot of freedom and happiness along with feelings of nostalgia and apprehension. The 18-year-old is often idealistic and enthusiastic about their future goals. As this is the first year as a legal adult, this teen comes into their 18th year in a whirlwind that was childhood and tends to come out of it more stable with some established independence and more experienced life skills.

When Social and Emotional Development Isn't Normal

Parenting Troubled Teens Help and Advice
Getty Images/SW Productions
Be on the lookout for social and emotional problems that can arise if your teen is dealing with other tough issues in their family, like a divorce, or is prone to at risk-behaviors, like truancy or gang-involvement. Become concerned and seek help if angry feelings turn violent or sad moods lead to long bouts of depression.

Quick Links: Teen Behavior and Daily Routines Ages 13 - 18 | Ages and Stages

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.