From a psychological perspective, maturity is the ability to respond to the environment being aware of the correct time and location to behave and knowing when to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society one lives in.
It is a lot easier to love a child who acts this way compared to an adults but childish behaviour can be displayed by anyone. Although the majority of adults will only act like this when they feel under threat, it’s still difcanvaficult to make sense of for those not use to their behaviour. This post is to make it easier for you to know what behaviours are emotionally childish and a few tips of advice on how you can handle them.
Common signs of an emotionally childish adult:
Sudden escalation of emotions: Like in young children, this can include outbursts of rage as well as, crying, or outwardly appear petulant and defiant (rolling eyes, sighing rudely, pouting). Grownups will rarely display such behaviours.
Blaming: When something goes wrong, they quickly seek to blame someone else. An adult would seek to take ownership despite fault and look to fix the problem.
Lying: When there’s a situation that’s uncomfortable, they might lie to stay out of trouble. Grownups deal with reality and will more likely be honest.
Name-calling: Adults seek to understand issues without making a personal attack on people’s personal traits. This is as they are aware that attacking the problem is the best use of their energy.
Poor impulse control: When their feelings are hurt or they feel mad then they tend to say many things they don’t mean. This is due to their lack of impulse control. An adults resists such impulses and will seek to calm themselves before speaking.
Attention seeking: They can often display agitation and frustration when they feel that they are not the centre of attention.
Bullying behaviour: Adults will respect boundaries: Yours is yours and mine is mine.
Narcissistic tendancies: Adults are capable of listening to others’ feelings where as a narcissist can only hear themselves. The inability to see beyond themselves creates a thinking approach that translates to whatever they want, they get. Adults could listen to others’ feelings, concerns and preferences whereas narcissists hear only themselves.
Immature defences: Adults possess the ability to engage in collaborative problem-solving. These responses to difficulties signal psychological maturity. Another primitive defenceisdenial: “I didn’t say that!” or “I never did that!” when in fact they did say or do the thing they claim not to have done. Sound childlike to you?
Inability to see and learn from their mistakes: When emotionally mature adults lose their self-control and express anger inappropriately (for example), they possess the ability to realize that their outburst was inappropriate. That is because they use hindsight that to recognise their behaviour was against their value system. Those who lack this ability will seek to blame others for their outburst (it’s your fault I got angry).
It’s important to remember that if someone is childish, whom you deeply care for, then consider focusing on their active functioning adult skills. There’s little point in being surprised once you have made the initial discovery and accept it is a likely interaction outcome going forward. This will make it a lot easier for you to notice patterns and make the behaviour more predictable going forward. Ultimately, it is not your responsibility to change their behaviour you can only continue to grow and develop yourself. If behaviours are problematic to your mental wellbeing then it would be wise to figure out what you can do to make these less impactful or limit exposure.
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Definition of maturity from Wikipedia