The Ages 15-18 years: Stages of Development of Children

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

Part Nine: Fifteen to Eighteen 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.

  • Continuing to develop their own values and morals.

  • Expanding ability to understand others’ perspectives and feelings.

  • Continuing to develop an interest in romantic relationships.

  • Increasing influence of friends on beliefs and behaviors in both helpful and harmful ways. Continuing to develop decision making and problem solving skills.

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

  • Continuing to challenge rules.

  • Increasing sense of personal responsibility, such as getting to jobs on time.

  • Understanding different parenting styles and following different rules in each parent’s home. Adjusting to the demands of high school and planning for life after high school may be stressful to the teen.

  • May be learning to drive a car.

  • May be experimenting with risky behaviors such as using alcohol and drugs, sexual activity, and breaking rules.

Parenting Time Considerations

  •  Parents should understand that the brain is not fully developed until a person is in their 20s. Teens may sound mature and logical, but that may not be reflected in their behavior or decision making.

  • The teen will want to have a say in developing or revisiting the parenting time schedule, such as how often the teen goes between homes.

  • Consider increased flexibility in developing and revisiting the parenting time schedule based on the teen’s school, activities, social relationships and jobs.

  • Teens may spend less time with each parent because of their work, activities, and social life. Listen to the teen’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.

  • 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, at work, and in activities.

  • Understand the demands of high school and planning for life after high school may be stressful to the teen.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.