Teenage Growth and Development: 15 to 17 Years
Congratulations! You and your teen have made it through what is usually the most difficult period of adolescence -- 11 to 14 years. Mid-adolescence (15-17 years) is usually an easier time for teens and parents. But don't get too comfortable. New challenges will test your patience, understanding, and parenting skills.
- Most teens navigate the developmental tasks of adolescence successfully.
- Teens ages 15-19 have much higher mortality rates than younger children.
- The leading causes of death for teens are motor vehicle crashes, homicide, and suicide.
Girls have usually reached full physical development. Many teenage girls are concerned with the way they look and are dissatisfied with their bodies and their weight. Nearly half of all high school girls diet to lose weight. Boys are close to completing their physical growth. Around 15 or 16 years of age, boys' voices will lower and facial hair will appear. Boys may continue to gain height and muscle.
- Teens are better able to solve problems, think about their future, appreciate opinions of others and understand the long-term effects of their decisions. However, teens tend to use these skills inconsistently; as a result, they sometimes do things without thinking first.
- Teens' organizational skills improve. Many successfully juggle school, outside activities, and work.
- In an attempt to answer the questions "Who am I?" and "What should I be?" teens listen to new music, try out clothing fashions, and begin to explore jobs, religion, political issues, and social causes.
- Teens frequently question and challenge school and parental rules.
Social and emotional characteristics
- Older teens are more self-assured and better able to resist peer pressure than younger teens.
- Teens spend less time than they used to with their families. They prefer to spend more time with friends or alone.
- Teens try to make close friends and may become part of a group based on interests or attributes (sports, arts, etc.).
- Teens want control over more aspects of their life.
- Teens are excited and at the same time overwhelmed by the possibilities for their future (college, work, or military).
- Like adults, teens get depressed-sadness lasting more than 2 weeks, however, is not normal. Call your teen's health care provider if this happens.
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs is more common now than before.
- Teens begin to have strong sexual urges, and many become sexually active.
- Teens become more aware of their sexual orientation (homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual).
Reprinted with the permission of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. 2008 Palo Alto Medical Foundation. All rights reserved.
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