Teens & Interpersonal Relationships

Adolescents change drastically beginning with puberty and extending to increased cognitive abilities, a further-developed sense of self and identity and new responsibilities at school, work and/or extracurricular activities. According to Child Trends, interpersonal relationships are formed at a more mature level as adolescents develop the necessary skills to develop and maintain these relationships 1. Interpersonal relationships are developed and enhanced with their parents, other adults in their family and outside their family, and with their peers.


The relationship teenagers have with their parents is of utmost importance as it influences all areas of social development. Researchers Elizabeth C. Hair, Ph.D., Justin Jager and Sarah B. Garrett for Child Trends acknowledge the development of conflict resolution and intimacy is due in large part to the healthy relationship between parents and their teenagers. These skills spill over into relationships with friends, other family members and adults, and romantic partners. Parents continue to be a strong necessity in their adolescent's ever-changing world.

Other Adults

Grandparents can provide support to teenagers as well as take on the role of mentor, role model or teacher, according to Hair, Jager and Garrett. Teens may find it easier to talk to their grandparents and open communication may flow in an easier manner than with their parents. Other adults serve to provide teenagers with social skills and various social interactions. Through these relationships with their non-parental adults, teenagers can receive advice, emotional support, socialization on a different level and companionship. Child Trend researchers found these additional adult relationships to further increase trust, self-esteem and compassion among teens.


Peer relationships teach adolescents problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, empathy and autonomy. Friendships promote self-esteem, social support and interpersonal skills. According to Child Trends researchers, positive peer relations among teenagers may reduce aggressive behavior, antisocial behaviors and emotional distress. Teenagers who are able to regulate their feelings and behaviors are more likely to be viewed in a positive light by their peers. Some teenagers make attempt after attempt to be part of a group of their peers only to be rejected due to their inability to behave in an appropriate manner, according to Joshua Mandel, Psy.D. of the NYU Child Study Center. Mandel states this can be due to issues such as untreated ADHD or overly aggressive behavior.


A negative, but unavoidable, part of the teen years is bullying. All teenagers are subjected to bullying, whether they are an active participant, a recipient or a bystander. Boys who bully are generally physical while girls tend to be verbal, indirect and subtle. This can come in the form of starting rumors. Mandel states girls victimize girls and bullying is usually done in a group, while boys bully both sexes. Conflict is part of any normal relationship. Teens need to learn how to resolve conflicts through communication and appropriate problem-solving skills. Teasing that goes beyond what is considered by both parties to be playful and friendly and becomes taunting is bullying, and intervention is required.