Apr 27, 2018, 10:31:29 AM CDT Mar 17, 2023, 8:22:22 PM CDT

Wellness by age: 17 – 18 years

See common physical, social and cognitive milestones for 17- and 18-year-olds


Your child has almost reached the end of the teenage years: 17 to 18 years old. At this point you’ve done your best to make sure he/she’s ready to move on to his/her adult responsibilities.

Consider these wellness checkpoints as your teen nears adulthood. Remember that not all teens will reach all milestones at exactly the same rate. See where you can say, “My 17- to 18-year-old ….”

Developmental milestones for 17- and 18-year-olds


  • Boy has more muscle than a girl
  • Has reached adult height
  • Girl is adding a natural amount of fat in areas like hips, arms, breasts and legs

Language and communication

  • Seems to be less communicative
  • Seems to love arguing
  • Can explain reasons for choosing certain courses of actions

Social and emotional skills

  • Is still seeking “a cause”
  • Is part of teams or cliques (or wants to be)
  • Is more comfortable being his own person
  • Is developing a better sense of caring for others
  • Has a more enduring love interest

Cognitive skills

  • Has very definite methods for studying
  • Is planning for future school and work options
  • Is being more realistic about those options
  • Shows an increased sense of invulnerability

Your more active role

There are ways you can take a more active role in ensuring that your 17- to 18- year-old reaches this final stage of developmental milestones, as expected.

Here are a few ways you can help encourage your teenager’s continued solid development:

  • Remember that 1 in 10 high school teens drinks and drives, but research shows that parental involvement helps reduce the possibility. School counselors, doctors and other experts can advise you. Also, you can find parent/teen “safe driving contracts” online.
  • Make sure you know your teen’s friends
  • Unless your teen has shown a reason for mistrust, it’s time to expand curfew times and other restrictions
  • Don’t just discuss issues like sex, bullying and drugs. Provide options beyond “Just say no.”
  • Teens who are 17 or 18 have often moved away from school teams, but they must stay physically fit. See what you can encourage; for example, yoga, karate or gardening. The goal is to get 60 minutes of activity – even in segments – throughout each day.
  • A part-time job can be good for a teenager. Just make sure you know your teen’s responsibilities and that she can handle the work without compromise to other commitments, like academics or teams.
  • Find ways to help your teenager to be part of the crowd. Maybe you don’t like her new haircut, or nose ring, but consider if it’s important to fight about it.
  • Make sure to help create good decisions about cell phone calls and texting by your 17- to 18-year-old teen.

There are many more resources that can help your teenager grow and develop well. Talk with your child’s pediatrician and consult specialists, if needed, for more help.

See developmental milestones for other ages:

Learn more

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