Behavior and Daily Routines for Your 18-Year-Old Teen

Goals to Strive For and Behaviors Parents Can Expect from 18-Year-Olds

Develop a healthy relationship with your 18-year-old.
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Eighteen-year-old teens are starting a very exciting time in their lives -- a time of more freedom and much more responsibility. While teens, like all children, develop at different rates, there are certain behaviors that are standard at certain ages. Here are what goals to strive for and what parents can expect from their 18-year-old teens.

Teen Wellness Issue: Diet and Nutrition

Your 18-year-old is on their way to being on their own and they are making more of their own decisions about food and nutrition. They have developed nutritional habits that will follow them into their adulthood.

Having their new found freedom may make your teen unwilling to take good nutritional advice from you. They often feel like they are already 'in the know' and can't figure out why you would be harping on them about silly little things like vitamins or eating their vegetables. This is normal and no reason to stop your 'harping' - just try to be helpful in tone and not lecturing.

If your teen is living away from home, money can be an issue when it comes to purchasing good food, as nutritional foods are often more expensive than their junk food counterparts. A salad is likely to cost a lot more than the dollar menu fast food options.

Teen Wellness Issue: Sleep

Sleep isn't often a priority for an 18-year-old teen. They tend to try and get as much out of a day as possible unless it is early in the morning when no teen likes to wake up. But these young adults have responsibilities that they need to get their rest for in order to do their best. So, your job is to help them see how to get the best of both worlds if you can.

While it's important to avoid nagging your teen, you may need to set a few limits. If your teen's social life is getting in the way of sleep, encourage her to stay home a couple of nights per week to unplug and de-stress. 

While sleep may not be a priority for your 18-year-old, curfews should still be enforced because it shows respect for everyone who lives in your home. Teens who come home whenever without calling cause stress for parents and siblings. 

Teen Wellness Issue: Exercise

If your teen has a good fitness habit, help them maintain it. Someone who takes an active approach to fitness in their young adult and teen years will carry those good habits into adulthood.

Be on the lookout for area fitness fun information and pass it on to your 18-year-old teen. When teens know what is offered in their area, they will take advantage of it.

Teen Wellness Issue: Stress

Eighteen-year-old teens tend to be excited one minute and stressed the next. Their world is changing fast, they are saying goodbye to high school friends and making their way into the world of college or work life. It is one of the most stressful times of anyone's life as many decisions and changes will be up in the air for them.

Help your teen handle the stress of these lifetime changes by building their confidence with reminders of their life skills and abilities, listening to their ideas and allowing them to make their own decisions all the while knowing they have your love and support.

Behavior, Responsibilities, and Discipline

Set house rules for your 18-year-old teen who lives at home, as they may begin to think that now they are an adult, the rules you've had in place no longer apply. Explain to your teen that this is not the case and try to do so before it causes a problem or an argument. At the age of 18, they should be able to follow the house rules without you having to remind them.

Compromise is key to living with an 18-year-old young adult who has graduated from high school and is waiting to go on to college or is looking for a full-time job. Remain connected to your teen with open communication about any problems you may be having with their behavior. Ask them to help you come up with a solution.

Your 18-year-old is going to go from being overly busy to having nothing to do directly after high school graduation if they do not have a summer or full-time job lined up. This may not be a problem if your teen is on their way to college or technical school within a few months. They can use the break to get ready. But if your teen has not made plans for their future, they may settle into bad habits that will not be beneficial to them. If this is the case, get your teen started on finding a job as soon as possible.

Updated by Amy Morin, LCSW.