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Forefront families by Sally Burgess;Easy steps to maturity; www.forefrontfamilies.org

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                                                                        by Brian and Sally Burgess LLC

 If you think your child is immature, stop and think about it.  Being immature means lacking appropriate behavioral and decision-making skills related to age.

It implies childishness, irresponsibility, pettiness and naivety.

Of course, no child is born with maturity.  It is a completely learned behavior.  When our son was three years old I caught myself saying, “For goodness’ sake, John, stop being so childish!”  Then I realized what I just said.   Have you ever had one of those moments that you wish you could grab those words and stuff them back in your mouth before they got any further?  He was a child!

When parents tell me their child is immature I ask them two standard questions –

a)    What responsibilities do you give them?  Do they do chores?  The usual answer is ‘NO’.

b)    Do you speak baby talk to them.  The answer is often, ‘YES’.

The other observation I make is seeing whether the parent is also acting in an immature way.  Maturity does not automatically come with age, although we hope that it would.  I am sure you can think of a number of adults in your circle of friends who are not responsible, are poor at making sound decisions and show a certain lack of judgment when it comes to appropriate behavior.

To encourage maturity in your children there are several simple steps.  The first step is to teach them right from wrong and acceptable behavior in particular circumstances.  Kids don’t have an automatic filter that regulates behavior.  They have to be taught, and from an early age.

If you speak baby talk to them, stop it!  You may think baby talk is cute.  You may be hoping they will never grow up.  However, by continuing to talk this way, you are not allowing your child to believe they are anything but a baby.

The next step is to give your kids responsibilities such as daily chores.  By learning to be part of a team, they begin to understand that their actions affect others.  If they don’t pull their weight, then others have to work harder and that is not fair.  By taking on these responsibilities they realize that they need to think of others as well as themselves.

The third step is to talk through particular scenarios with them when, or before, they need to make decisions.  Explain all their options and let them decide.  With your help they will more quickly become confident in making wise choices.  They may make mistakes and it is important that we do not always shield them from these outcomes, or rescue them from poor choices.  It does not hurt to learn by our mistakes, but it should not be the only way.  Being equipped to make educated choices will make for a much quicker path to maturity.

The fourth step is to consider your own role modeling.  Do you act maturely?  It is never too late to change for the better.  Recognize that you may need help and apply the steps above in your own life.  Get a trusted friend or your spouse to help you.

            There is absolutely nothing wrong with having silly moments.  Everyone needs to let their hair down and do crazy things sometimes.  However, maturity is being able to judge when those times are appropriate AND when to stop.

If you have any comments or questions on this subject, do not hesitate to contact us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org and check out our web site at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blog site at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com

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