The Developmental Stages of 18 Through 21 Years Old

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The human body is constantly under development throughout the course of an average life span. Various stages of growth determine the level of maturity at which an individual is currently at. It affects a person's decisions, amount of responsibilities, even the level of understanding. Individuals up to the age of 19 years of age are considered adolescences while 20 and 21 year olds are young adults.

Physical Development

  • The physical developmental stage consists of physical maturity. The process of attaining full physical maturity is usually completed between the ages of 18 through 21. The maximum height is normally reached at this stage. Secondary reproductive organs are properly developed at this point.

Cognitive Development

  • Cognitive development involves thinking, problem solving, concept understanding, information processing and overall intelligence. During this stage, 18 to 21 year olds are officially taking on adult roles. Cognitive development may be increased and improved by life experiences or brain growth. Individuals learn important responsibilities such as getting a job or pursuing a degree in school. Decision-making skills are a major part of cognitive growth. A person should be able to identify life goals and adult interests at this particular stage.

Emotional Development

  • Theorist Erik Erikson (1902-1994) maintained that individuals develop in psychosocial stages, and that early adulthood marks the time when individuals seek to form intimate relationships. Adult relationships are explored during this stage. Importance of various peer groups are deciphered while closer friendships are formed. Young adults will become more mature socially and may establish a body image. A new-found level of intimacy skills is also developed during this stage.

Sexual Development

  • Sexuality in young adults between ages 18 through 21 is usually more pronounced during this stage. Although sexual development is a lifelong process, much activity is done during the young adult age. New experiences occur of which intimate sexual and emotional relationships form. Young adults become fully aware of their sexuality and understand their own sexual orientation. They should be able to accept their level of development as opposed to comparing it with others. Sexual development is connected to commitments and shifts in focus from one's self to others.

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