Do Young Adults in Your Life Act Like Teenagers?

Have you noticed that some young adults still act like adolescents? You ask yourself: Isn’t he supposed to be more mature than this? Shouldn’t she behave as an adult by age eighteen? Even parents are confused when kids reach adulthood, but still seem like kids.

Actually, a young adult is not technically an adult, not according to social psychologists, and in recent years supported by neuroscience findings. He or she is an emerging adult.

Emerging adulthood is the stage in between teenager and adult. Over the past fifteen years, researchers have discovered that the human brain doesn't reach "adulthood" until around age 25. So if a young adult behaves like a teenager, maybe it is because she is more like one than you realize. An emerging adult is, in many ways, still similar to a teen. The brain is gradually moving toward adulthood from puberty until the mid twenties (or early even thirties). So of that twenty-two year old still behaves like she's sixteen, here are some ways to cope, and to encourage him or her to behave like a grown up:


Change your expectations. Now that you understand young adults are still growing up, try to adjust your image of this stage. If you're the parent of an emerging adult, your parenting role may not be finished just yet.

Give it time. Even the insurance companies know it gets better around age 25. In the mid twenties, there is a drastic drop in car accident rates and speeding, and lower insurance rates as a result. 

Talk to friends who've been there with emerging adults. It's helpful to have supportive friends who can reassure you that this is just a stage. Like living with a teenager, parenting an emerging adult can sometimes be stressful- especially if your expectations are unrealistic. Wise friends can help you adjust.

Communicate clearly. Set limits. A young adult who understands your expectations is more likely to meet them. Clarity is the key.


Dr. Deuter is a psychiatrist who specializes in the care of emerging adults.



Posted on July 28, 2014 .