What to Expect: Age 17
Is your teenager rapidly approaching the days of adulthood? Their teenage years and adolescence are quickly coming to a close by their seventeenth year. Parents may begin to feel excited about their child’s future and upset that childhood is officially over. You may even begin to wonder whether your child is really ready for the years ahead.
By this age, children are almost fully developed but they still need guidance. You can check to make sure that your child is reaching all of the essential milestones using these general guidelines. Keep in mind that the pace will be different for each child. Don’t be alarmed if you feel your son or daughter is a little behind in some areas. They’re bound to catch up sooner or later.
Your child has likely seen many of the physical changes that their bodies are going to undergo. They may continue to grow slightly taller this year, growing even into their early twenties. However, many changes are likely already complete, including menstruation in girls and voice changes in boys.
Because of their rapid physical development, many seventeen-year-olds will have an increased interest in sex. Their relationships will continue to grow deeper and most children are very aware of their personal sexual orientation.
This is a key time for parents to begin having open conversations with their teens about important topics if they haven’t already. You should discuss things like birth control, safe sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. All of these essential conversations can help them to make better decisions when the time comes.
Emotional and Social Development
Your seventeen-year-old is continuing to explore the importance of their friendships and romantic relationships. Their friends will often take precedence over their relationships with family members, which is completely normal for this stage of development. They will continue to grow closer to their friends and care for them very deeply.
Parents can enjoy relative peace in their household. While your child is extremely interested in establishing their own independence, they have learned how to communicate more effectively with you. This should be a time of calm for everyone in the home.
It’s possible that you may begin to see the signs of clinical depression in your child around this age. Parents should take note of important signs of depression, including a loss of interest in preferred activities, fatigue, and loss of appetite. If any of these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, contact your child’s pediatrician regarding your concerns.
You may have already noticed it, but your child is very interested in their life past high school. Many will continue to show more concern about their future academic track or career path. They may be able to reason why they are interested in a particular field or make more concrete plans for their goals. Parents should notice children moving from a listless pattern of thought to more concrete actions.
Parents should take in every moment of these last few years before their teen leaves home. They may seem fully independent, but teens ultimately still need the supervision of their parents.
Don’t forget that your child will be making important life decisions this year. They could use your input and guidance, so be sure to make time to listen to them with empathy. Setting aside time to spend talking with your child will be essential. Not to mention, you will treasure these moments in the years ahead.