Many changes and responsibilities accompany becoming a “legal” adult. Decisions during 18-21 years of age have been made as to vocation and higher education. Many have moved away from home and are living on their own or with roommates. As unbelievable as it may seem to a parent, many young adults have partners, are married, or have even started their own families.

Safety

  • Substance Use and Abuse: Do NOT use tobacco, drugs, alcohol, steroids, diet pills, etc. If you do, talk to your doctor about getting help to stop. Support friends that do not use drugs or alcohol.
  • Basic Car Rules:
    Wear seat belts when driving or riding in vehicles and insist that all passengers where seat belts.
    Concentrate when driving, avoid distractions (e.g., loud music, eating, talking on the phone while driving).
    Do not drink and drive.
    Have a designated driver, if you have been drinking.
  • Weapons: Do not carry or use a weapon of any kind.
  • Abuse: Enforce strategies to protect yourself from abuse of any type (e.g., physical, emotional, sexual/rape). Make sure you seek help if you feel you are in danger.
  • Sun: Reduce risk of skin cancer by limiting sun exposure. Wear sunscreen and avoid tanning salons.

Sleep

  • Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Some need more.

Nutrition

  • Eat 3 nutritious meals a day, breakfast is especially important.
  • Eat healthy snacks. Limit high fat and high sugar foods (including soda and other high calorie drinks).
  • Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, lean meats, chicken, fish, and low fat dairy products
  • Get 3 servings of dairy a day for adequate calcium. If not, you may need to take a calcium supplement.
  • Enjoy meals in a good environment with family, friends, or roommates.
  • Keep in mind it is very difficult to eat healthy when eating out (especially at fast food restaurants).
  • Supplements: If you eat a balanced diet, you do not necessarily need supplements. If your diet is less than ideal, take a daily multivitamin.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight by eating right and getting regular exercise.

Oral Health

  • Continue to brush and floss teeth twice a day.
  • Schedule appointment to see a dentist every 6 months.
  • As your third permanent molars (wisdom teeth) come in, evaluate for placement. You may need to have them removed.
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco. It ruins teeth and gums.

Sexuality

  • Discuss with your doctor questions about sex, contraception, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention.
  • Recognize that sexual feelings are normal, but sex should be a well thought out decision. Engaging in sex comes with a lot of responsibilities and consequences; one should delay having sex until mature enough to handle the responsibility.
  • Learn how to resist sexual pressures and say no to sex.
  • Abstaining from sex is the only 100% effective STI and pregnancy prevention method.
  • If sexually active, you must exercise safe sex practices (contraception, condoms, etc). While your pediatrician can do pelvic exams, females may want to find a permanent OB/GYN to transition to once becoming sexually active.
  • If there is concern or confusion about sexual feelings (for the same or opposite sex), talk with your doctor.

Mental Health

  • Talk to your doctor or a trusted adult if you regularly feel angry, hopeless, or depressed.
  • Learn to set goals. Achieving them builds confidence.
  • Learn constructive strategies for dealing with stress.

Other

  • Engage in 30-60 minutes of physical activity 3 or more times a week.
  • If still living with parents, respect family members and family rules (e.g., curfew, driving rules). Share in household responsibilities.
  • Continue to advance skills and/or education in order to prepare and plan for supporting self financially.
  • Take responsibility for own health care (e.g., scheduling and going to appointments).
  • Exercise caution and good judgment in romantic relationships. One should never feel pressured or threatened. Be open to warnings and concerns family and friends have about the relationship or the person you’re involved with. Family and friends know you best, have your best interest in mind, and can sometimes offer good perspective on problems you may not be able to see.