Social and Emotional Development in Adolescence: What to Expect

During adolescence, individuals get to face puberty along with a series of social and emotional changes.
Social and Emotional Development in Adolescence: What to Expect
Natalia Cobos Serrano

Written and verified by the social educator Natalia Cobos Serrano.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Adolescence is a period of biological, emotional and social changes. While teenagers try to find their identity and place in the world, they must deal with all their physical changes. Therefore, they need proper social and emotional development. 

“During adolescence, people experience changes related to their formation as a man or a woman. Teenagers must face a series of challenges that they need to overcome in order to become adults.” 

– Elena Izco –

What are the social and emotional changes teenagers face during adolescence?

Usually, teenagers are described as rebellious, moody and emotionally unstable. Most people even believe that these are the only characteristics that represent adolescence.

Emotional development during adolescence.

In spite of all the prejudice teenagers suffer from, it’s true that they face many emotional changes during this stage. This is due to the fact that they’re learning to identify, express and control their emotions. 

As a result, they experience strong changes in their mood. They also become extremely sensitive, and they have low self-esteem.

Regarding social changes, teenagers are trying to find their own identity. Therefore, they try new thing all the time, with the purpose of defining their own self.

However, even though looking for new experiences and styles is healthy to get to know oneself, the brain of teenagers is still developing, and hasn’t developed the prefrontal cortex yet. And, this is what warns us about dangerous situations and the consequences of our actions.

Notwithstanding, during this stage, girls and boys start becoming more aware of the importance of different values, rights, duties and social ideals. In addition, teenagers start appreciating more their own relationships. Then, family is replaced by friends, who become quite influential in teenagers’ lives.

Social development in teenagers.

How to deal with this stage of development

Even though parents and educators think this is a very difficult time to handle, they need to understand and support teenagers. According to Gerardo Castillo, every teenager goes through adolescence in their own way. Therefore, the process of maturity isn’t the same for everybody.

In any case, there are many aspects teenagers have in common. For this reason, there are many strategies that promote proper social and emotional development in teenagers.

For example, you can practice active listening, especially when teenagers express their feelings.

To do this, it’s extremely important for us to make a pause, and listen to them with attention and patience. Try to put yourself in their shoes and be empathetic. For example: “It seems like you’re upset because your friends didn’t ask you to go with them.”

Another important strategy when dealing with teenagers’ development is to focus on the positive things. Even if you have to deal with mood swings all the time, try to reinforce the positive characteristics of teenagers. This will be essential to promote good social and emotional development.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.