Growth and Development,Ages 15 to 18 Years - Common Concerns
The word "teenager" to many people
brings up an image of a wild and reckless young person whose main purpose in
life is to rebel against his or her parents. Most teenagers do not fit this
description. Of course, there are times when any teenager may be hard to deal
with. But many teenagers are trying their best to please parents while they
work toward some level of independence.
Parents of teenagers
between ages 15 and 18 are often most concerned about whether the teen will be
able to make good decisions. Parents know that the choices children make during
the teen years can have an impact on much of their adult lives. It is normal to worry.
Even if your child has momentary lapses in judgment, the chances are that he or
she is going to be okay.
Know that you are not alone in these
types of concerns. For example, many parents worry about whether their teenager
- Resist using or abusing alcohol and drugs
(including prescription drugs and supplements such as
anabolic steroids). Many teens are exposed to these
and other substances throughout their teen years. Offer
strategies to avoid tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Set
firm, fair, and consistent limits for your teen. Talk about the immediate and
long-lasting results of substance use, such as falling grades and poor health
during adulthood. Help your teen practice how to respond when a harmful
substance is offered, such as stating "No, thanks" and moving on to another
subject. Look for community programs led by teens (peer education). And talk to
your teen right away if you see
signs of substance use.
- Focus enough on
doing well in school. Typically, teenagers have many distractions. Friends,
clubs, sports, and jobs can all compete for time that could be spent completing
homework. Show your teenager how to set goals. For example, talk about and
write down a goal for the week, month, and year. Help your teen think about the
steps that need to be taken to reach the goal. Work with your teen to make a
schedule for when to do each step and set rewards for when the goal is
- Drive safely. You can help
teach your teen about safe driving. But what a teen does when parents are not
around is the unknown. Remind your child often that driving is a huge
responsibility that should not be taken lightly.
- Feel pressured to
Talk about dating and sex early, before the information is needed. Focus on
what makes a relationship healthy, such as trust and respect for each other.
Also, kids have easy access to many Web sites with sexual or pornographic
content. Keep the computer in a shared area where you can see what your teen is
- Find a career. Teens need to decide what they want to do as adults to support themselves. Before high school ends, some teens will have a good start on career plans. Most teens start focusing on career plans around age 17 and older. Help your teen find out what interests him or her. Find ways to help your teen talk to people in certain jobs or get experience by working or volunteering.
understand the issues your teen faces. Although you
may remember some struggles from your own teen years, the issues your teen
faces are likely quite different. Stay involved in your teen's life, such as by
going to school events and encouraging your teen to bring friends to your house
while you are home. You can better see the world from his or her perspective
when you are familiar with it. Also, learn to recognize your teen's
stress triggers and offer guidance on how to manage
the anxiety they may cause. But be careful not to get too caught up in your
teen's world. If you try to take too much control, it will likely only make
things harder for him or her.
- Stress Management: Helping Your Child With Stress