The ability to interact in meaningful and productive ways with others and to maintain healthy relationships with diverse individuals and groups contributes to a person’s overall success. During the high school years, teens are learning more about how their feelings and behaviors affect others, and they are gaining a better understanding of how relationships work. This phase is marked by a great deal of personal growth and increased independence, which can have a profound effect on the way that your adolescent approaches their relationships and interactions. Remember that every teen develops at a different pace. Practicing these skills with your teen can help them better understand the intricacies of social interactions and relationships.
The high school years are a time of great personal development as teens are further developing their identities, preparing for adulthood, and gaining more independence. Encouraging your teen’s social and emotional development is still important at this age, as these skills can be developed throughout life. While your teen is becoming more independent, it is important to remember that you are still needed. Reminding your teen that you care can go a long way in keeping them on track and planning for the future.
At this age, your teen is better able to use their social skills to establish and maintain functional and positive relationships. Your teen might also place a lot of value on their friendships and might distance themselves from family relationships as they develop their independence.
At this age, your teen may be spending more time hanging out with friends, which can lead them to test their limits and your patience when it comes to their curfew.
Your teen might also be quite verbal with their opinions and critical of their own faults. They may also be critical of others’ faults, which can stir up problems with friends and acquaintances.
During these high school years, your teen should be gaining a better understanding of their role and responsibilities in platonic, and in some cases, intimate relationships.
By the end of high school, your teen will have been engaged in more friendships and social interactions, and will be better able to see the value of empathy in relationships. Your teen may be leaving friends behind as your child pursues their life after high school, and your child will begin learning how to redefine their relationships with high school friends.
Keep in mind that all adolescents have different social and emotional tendencies and behaviors and develop at different rates. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). If you have concerns about your adolescent’s development, please contact your healthcare provider or his teacher or school counselor.
Learn more about how to support your child with our 12th-grade relationship tips page.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Thomas Hoerr, Emeritus Head of School, New City School; Maurice Elias, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; and Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids.