Late Adolescent Development: What to Expect Between the Ages 19 and 21

This is what you can expect as your teen during late adolescent development.
violatavazzani/RooM/Getty Images

While most teens reach the late stages of adolescent development around age 19, but some teens enter into this phase sooner. By the time adolescents reach this phase of development, they’re much better prepared to take on the realities of adulthood. While some enter into college, others start a career in the working world.

Physical Development

Young women have reached full physical maturity by late adolescence.

They’ve stopped growing and have reached their full height.

Young men are likely to continue growing taller. They may still gain muscle mass and may continue to grow more body hair throughout this phase.

Cognitive Development

By late adolescence, teens have developed an ability to think ideas through and they’re able to really stop and think about potential consequences of their choices. They can also delay gratification more easily.

They may still benefit from help problem-solving obstacles they encounter, and they likely still need support making major decisions. Older teens and young adults often struggle to see all of their options and may be prone to making false assumptions.

They’re also more future oriented. They can think about what they want out of life, 5 and 10 years down the road. They’re better able to make plans for their future and make choices that will help prepare them to meet their goals.

Older adolescents are developing their moral compass. They often question things, but in an introspective--and not necessarily an oppositional--manner.

Social Development

Many teens develop serious romantic relationships during this phase.  Relationships with friends remain important as well.

Teens develop an increased concern for other people and causes they believe in during late adolescence.

Sometimes social and cultural traditions that were practiced during childhood regain importance again.

Emotional Development

Older teens and young adults have a firmer sense of their identity. The way they feel about themselves is less dependent upon fitting in and they’re more willing to be different. In fact, they may appreciate the things that make them different and unique from others.

They’re also more independent and self-reliant. They’re likely to begin to be able to live independently, solve problems on their own, and obtain more financial freedom.

How to Help Teens During Late Adolescence

Foster an older teen’s sense of competence. Reassure your teen that she's doing well when she's making decisions independently. Praise and positive reinforcement will help build confidence in her ability to make decisions independently.

Help an older adolescent grow emotionally by discussing ethical and moral problems that are featured in the news. Ask your teen what she thinks about certain social issues or moral dilemmas to help foster empathy.

At this age, teens are usually able to tolerate hearing differences in opinions with a more open mind.

Allow your teen to face some of life’s challenges on her own and let her experience natural consequences. Let her practice problem-solving skills and give her an opportunity to cope with uncomfortable emotions independently.

Continue Reading