Late Adolescence (Approximate Ages 17-21)

Late adolescence is the last phase of the adolescent’s struggle for identity and separation. If all has proceeded fairly well in early and middle adolescence, the adolescent will be well on his or her way to handling the tasks and responsibilities of adulthood. If the previously mentioned tasks have not been completed however, problems may develop with the increasing independence and responsibilities of young adulthood (i.e. depression and emotional diagnosis).

Diet and Nutrition

  • BMI is a measure of weight adjusted for height and helps us assess the level of body fat and overall health of your child.
    • <5th percentile – underweight
    • 5th – 84% – healthy weight
    • 85th – 95th percentile – overweight
    • >95% – obese
    • >99% – morbidly obese
  • As always, it is important to remember that children should never cut calories or diet. This can result in a disruption in their normal growth patterns and may prevent them from taking in nutrients that they need for normal growth and development of organs. We strongly encourage that they learn to make healthy choices, eat appropriate portion sizes and stay active.

Independent – Dependent Struggle

  • Late adolescence is a time of reduced restlessness and of increasing integration. The adolescent has become a separate entity from his or her family and now may better appreciate the importance of his or her parent’s values; thus, parental advice may once again be sought and accepted. It is not uncommon for some adolescents to be hesitant to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and to remain dependent on family and peers.

Body Image Concerns

  • The late adolescent has completed puberty and is typically unconcerned with this process.

Peer Group Involvement

  • Peer group values become less important to late adolescents as they become more comfortable with their own values and identity. Much time is spent in a relationship with one person. Such relationships involve more of a mutual understanding and enjoyment than on peer acceptance.

Identity Development

  • The development of a sense of perspective with the ability to delay, compromise, and set limits
  • The development of practical vocational goals and the beginning of financial independence.
  • Further refinement of moral, religious, and sexual values.

Risk Reduction

  • Know where and with whom your adolescent is spending leisure time.
  • Discuss tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Discuss expectations.
  • Set limits and expectations about driving.
  • If sexually active, discuss importance to protect them/partner from unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Discuss healthy dating/relationships, built on respect, concern and doing activities that both enjoy.
  • Avoid risky situations. Avoid violent people. Call for help if things get dangerous.