Positive Parenting Tips for Teenagers (15-17 Years)

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Understanding the milestones for each age is important because positive parenting strategies vary based on the child’s needs at certain stages.

This is a time of both physical and socio-emotional change for teenagers.

Most girls will be physically mature by now, and most will have completed puberty. Boys might still be maturing physically during this time.

Your teen might have concerns about her body size, shape, or weight. Eating disorders also can be common, especially among girls.

During this time, your teen is developing his unique personality and opinions. Relationships with friends are still important, yet your teen will have other interests as he develops a more clear sense of who he is.

This is also an important time to prepare for more independence and responsibility. For example, many teenagers start working, and many will be leaving home soon after high school.



  • Have more interest in romantic relationships and sexuality.
  • Show more independence from parents.
  • Have a deeper capacity for caring and sharing and for developing more intimate relationships.
  • Spend less time with parents and more time with friends.
  • Feel sadness or depression, which can lead to poor grades at school, alcohol or drug use, unsafe sex, and other problems.


You don’t have to be a perfect parent to make a positive impact on your child. Positive parenting at this age can be as simple as showing an interest in their lives. Find some ideas for implementing positive parenting with your teenager below.

  • Talk with your teen about their concerns and pay attention to any changes in their behavior. Ask her if they have had suicidal thoughts, particularly if they seems sad or depressed. Asking about suicidal thoughts will not cause them to have these thoughts, but it will let them know that you care about how they feels. Seek professional help if necessary. Visit our TEEN SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION resources for more information.
  • Show interest in your teen’s school and extracurricular activities, and encourage them to become involved in activities such as sports, music, theater, and art.
  • Encourage your teen to volunteer and become involved in civic activities in their community.
  • Compliment your teen and celebrate their efforts and accomplishments.
  • Show affection for your teen. Spend time together doing things you enjoy.
  • Respect your teen’s opinion. Listen to them without playing down her concerns.
  • Encourage your teen to develop solutions to problems or conflicts.
  • Create opportunities for them to use their own judgment, and be available for advice and support.
  • If your teen engages in interactive internet media such as games, chat rooms, and instant messaging, encourage them to make good decisions about what they post and how much time they spend on these activities.
  • If your teen works, use the opportunity to talk about expectations, responsibilities, and other ways of behaving respectfully in a public setting.
  • Talk with your teen and help them plan ahead for difficult or uncomfortable situations. Discuss what they can do if, for example, they are in a group and someone is using drugs, is under pressure to have sex, or is offered a ride by someone who has been drinking.
  • Respect your teen’s need for privacy.
  • Encourage your teen to get enough sleep and exercise, and to eat healthy, balanced meals.




According to Pew Research Center in 2013, smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive. One in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer. These are among the new findings from a nationally representative survey of 802 teens ages 12-17 and their parents which shows that:


  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of those own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
  • One in four teens (23%) have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
  • Nine in ten (93%) teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.



  • Talk with your teen about the dangers of driving and how to be safe on the road.  Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death from unintentional injury among teens, yet few teens take measures to reduce their risk of injury.
  • Remind your teen to wear a helmet when riding a bike, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle. Unintentional injuries resulting from participation in sports and other activities are common.
  • Talk with your teen about suicide and pay attention to warning signs. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth 15 to 24 years of age.
  • Talk with your teen about the dangers of drugs, drinking, smoking, and risky sexual activity. Ask them what they know and think about these issues, and share your feelings with them. Listen to what they say and answer their questions honestly and directly.
  • Discuss the importance of choosing friends who do not act in dangerous or unhealthy ways.
  • Know where your teen is and whether a responsible adult is present. Make plans with them for when they will call you, where you can find them, and what time you expect them home.



  • Encourage your teen to get enough sleep and physical activity, and to eat healthy, balanced meals. Encourage your teen to get 1 hour or more of physical activity each day.
  • Keep television sets out of your teen’s bedroom.
  • Encourage your teen to have meals with the family. Eating together will help your teen make better choices about the foods they eat, promotes healthy weight, and gives family members time to talk with each other. In addition, a teen who eats meals with the family is more likely to get better grades and less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. They’re also less likely to get into fights, think about suicide, or engage in sexual activity.




  • Learn more defined work habits.
  • Show more concern about future school and work plans.
  • Be better able to give reasons for their own choices, including about what is right or wrong.

As children enter the preteen and teenage years, quality communication and connection can feel more difficult to achieve. But parents and caregivers often find success when they adjust their approach and expectations for communicating with their growing child. Frameworks such as these 5 approaches to communicating with your teen more effectively can be helpful in reducing conflict and the need for discipline, while also giving opportunity for deeper connections.

References & Sources
  1. Information Courtesy of CDC.
  2. Positive Parenting Tip Sheet for Children 15-17 Years CDC.

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Positive Parenting Tips for Teenagers (15-17 Years)