The Ages 13-15 years: Stages of Development of Children

A Guide to Developmental Considerations at Various Ages and Stages of Development of Children.

Part Eight: Thirteen to Fifteen Years

Child’s Developmental Considerations

  • Increasing sense of independence with more focus on friends, activities, and other interests, while continuing to need family support and guidance.

  • Experiencing changing emotions and mood shifts associated with hormonal changes resulting from puberty.

  • Increasing ability to think logically, express opinions and preferences, and argue their viewpoint.

  • Developing their own values and morals.

  • Continuing to challenge rules.

  • Continuing to develop decision making and problem solving skills.

  • Continuing to expand ability to understand others’ perspectives, but are still self-focused. Increasing influence of friends on beliefs and behaviors in both helpful and harmful ways. Developing an interest in romantic relationships.

  • Experimenting with risky behavior such as using alcohol and drugs, sexual activity, and breaking rules.

  • Understanding different parenting styles and following different rules in each parent’s home. Increasing sense of personal responsibility, such as coming home from a friend’s house when they are supposed to.

  • Adjusting to the demands of middle school/high school may be stressful to the child.

Parenting Time Considerations

  • The teen may want to have a say in creating the parenting time schedule, such as how often the teen goes between homes.

  • The teen may request flexibility in the parenting time schedule because of activities and events.

  • Listen to the child’s wishes about the parenting time schedule, while letting the teen know the parents will decide.

  • If a teen resists following the parenting time schedule, both parents need to let the teen know they expect the teen to follow the schedule.

  • The teen may feel the need to choose sides, especially if there is a lot of conflict between parents.

  • Teens may say what they believe each parent wants to hear and may be saying something different to each parent.

  • The teen may request flexibility in the parenting time schedule because of activities and events. This does not necessarily mean that the other parent is undermining the parent-child relationship, but indicates the teen’s wish to have more input in the decisions that are made about them.

  • Recognize that parents may differ in their expectations about the balance between family time and time the teen spends with friends and in activities.

  • Understand the demands of middle school/high school may be stressful to the teen.

  • Be alert to signs the teen may be engaging in risky behavior.

  • Teens continue to need patient, consistent, loving and supportive care.

  • Some teens may do better with or express a preference for longer blocks of parenting time and fewer transitions.

  • Moving between parents’ homes may be difficult for some teens and they may become resistant. This does not necessarily mean that the other parent isn’t a good parent or that the teen doesn’t want to be with the other parent.

  • Understand that the teen sees the time as “their” time not the parent’s parenting time.