1. K-State home
  2. »Research and Extension
  3. »Youth and Teens
  4. »Positive Youth Development
  5. »Processes

Youth and Teens

Processes of Youth Development

Youth development has traditionally and is still most widely used to mean a natural process: the growing capacity of a young person to understand and act on the environment.

Optimal development in young people enables individuals to lead a healthy, satisfying, and productive life, as youth and later as adults. In order for youth to reach their optimal development it is vital they gain the competence to earn a living and to engage in civic activities. Both heredity and environment influence the natural unfolding. People can actively shape their own development through the choices they make and interpretations they place on their experiences.

Erik Erikson's States of Development

Erik Erikson (1902 -1994) was a German-born American psychoanalyst; he was known for his psychosocial theory of emotional development of human beings. This theory looks at the impact of parents and society on personality development from childhood to adulthood. According to Erikson, each person has to pass through a series of eight interrelated stages over his entire life cycle.

Process of Development Areas

  • Physical Development
    • Physical health is vital for youth well-being. For example, good health habits, such as physical activity and healthy eating, have strong support for their beneficial health effects for young people.
  • Intellectual Development
    • Includes life skills, academic success, "planfulness," and good decision-making skills.
  • Psychological and Emotional Development
    • Include mental health, self-regulation skills, a sense of autonomy and self-control, confidence in one's self-efficacy and in one's competence in valued domains as well as optimism. Although moral development is included in this domain, there are some scholars who believe moral development is a separate aspect of youth development.
  • Social Development
    • Places value on the importance of connectedness, being valued by the larger society and institutional attachments.


40 Developmental Assets 

Personal and Social Assets that Facilitate Positive Youth Development 

Ages and Stages of Childhood Development 

Connect for Youth


(these include events, conferences, trainings, announcements, grants)

Linked In logo

Twitter Logo