HomeHealth & BehaviorHealth & Nutrition

Child Development: 13- to 16-Year-Olds

Page 2 of 2

By Nancy Firchow, M.L.S.

Social & Emotional Development

During this period your child will continue to be an emotional pendulum: happy and at ease one year, troubled by self doubts the next. These swings will smooth out as your teen approaches the end of high school and gains more confidence in his own independence.


  • uncertain, unhappy, and sensitive
  • withdrawn; spends a lot of time alone; needs privacy
  • convinced that everyone else is watching and judging
  • very concerned with body image
  • self-esteem at a low ebb
  • not sociable with adults
  • friendships tend to be group-focused; more squabbling than a year ago


  • generally happy and easy-going
  • recognizes own strengths and weaknesses
  • finds many faults with, and is embarrassed by, both parents
  • likes to be busy and involved in many extracurricular activities
  • social circle is large and varied; includes friends of both sexes
  • very anxious to be liked
  • interest in the opposite sex is strong


  • may be quarrelsome and reluctant to communicate
  • strong desire for independence; wants to be free of family
  • relationship with siblings may be better than with parents
  • friends are very important; may have one or two "best friends"
  • dating and romantic relationships are commonplace


  • relationship with family is easy and giving
  • feels comfortable in own skin; secure sense of self
  • starts to view parents as people, rather than rule-makers
  • friendships are very important
  • most have many friends of both sexes with shared interests
  • romantic relationships can be quite intense

And Finally...

Remember that growth and development are influenced by many factors - including genetic, social, and cultural - and that each child is an individual who will develop at his own pace. The milestones presented here are averages; your child may progress more quickly or a little more slowly. You can help your child through this period of great change by showing support and listening to his worries and concerns. And as always, if any aspect of your child's development seems very atypical, talk to his pediatrician and encourage your teen to ask questions as well. © 2008 GreatSchools Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally created by Schwab Learning, formerly a program of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation


  • Introduction to Child Development, 5th ed., West Publishing, 1993 By John P. Dworetzky

Comments from readers

"parents shoud take care of thier children specialy in the teens age "
"This is so right. it actually makes sense... "
"Single mother of two boys, twelve and three. I found you information helpful for now and into the future. "
"This really Helped me! Im a thirteen Your old girl who just really needed to know about this! Thanks! "
"this article is very helpful for me as my son is growing and it gives me lot of information .thanks for such a gr8 information "
"I found this Child Development information very helpful. We are raising our 2 grandsons which we have had since birth now 16 and 13. Thank you for sharing this information."
"this page really helped me with my coursework on child development and the information is accurate and correct. "