Do other people say you’re childish? Do you feel like you are too childish yourself?
That can be a problem, depending on the context. Childishness isn’t a good look if you want to be a respected, reliable adult.
Why does it matter? Why should you care about being viewed as a respected, reliable adult? Well, it’s because other respected, reliable adults don’t spend too much time with childish adults. A childish adult is often unreliable and immature, which is a pain in the butt to deal with.
On the other hand, you should consider where this source of criticism comes from and what it’s about. It’s not okay to be a childish, irresponsible adult. It is okay to be an adult that likes childish things. But, of course, there are many bitter people out there who want to make you feel bad about yourself and will tell you otherwise.
“Why do you still play video games at your age? Don’t you have anything better to do?”
“You’re a grown woman who likes to color? What are you, twelve?”
“Comic books and cartoons? Those are for kids!”
If you are an adult who enjoys childish things and has a light spirit—GOOD FOR YOU. Seriously, awesome. Congratulations on retaining some sense of wonder in this complex world.
Bitter people regularly try to tear down the peace and happiness of others out of their own misguided misery. So, if you’re a responsible adult who enjoys childish things, don’t toss them aside because some other adult has a negative perception of them. So long as you’re not hurting anyone, it’s not anyone else’s business.
But, on the other hand, if you’re an irresponsible adult, we have a list of tips to help teach you how to grow up mentally.
1. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions.
You’re a human being living in a complicated world filled with difficult problems and overwhelming stresses.
Guess what? You’re going to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Anyone that claims to not make mistakes is a liar. It is impossible to make good decisions any, and every time you’re faced with them.
You will do things that hurt yourself and other people. But, to be a healthy adult, you must accept responsibility for your actions; for good and ill. You must learn to apologize to others and accept the consequences of your choices.
Taking responsibility demonstrates to others that you understand the impact your actions have had on them. It also builds trust because those people will know that if you do something to hurt them in the future, you will do your best to make things right.
What’s more, being responsible is empowering. When you accept the role you play in how things turn out rather than shifting accountability, you will feel more able to make positive steps toward self-growth and your wider goals and dreams.
2. Learn to communicate effectively.
Mature adults communicate effectively with other people. That means listening, considering other people’s words, and working to have a respectful dialog.
Now, one could easily be confused by that sentiment given the general social atmosphere of anger and conflict nurtured by political divisions and talking heads on the “news.” But effective communication is essential to healthy adult relationships, maintaining professionalism at work, and finding compromise when necessary.
Effective and healthy communication is something you need to learn if it doesn’t come naturally to you. There are plenty of books, articles, podcasts, and videos that can teach you the basics of effective communication.
When you become a more effective communicator, not only will you be able to avoid many misunderstandings, but you will learn to handle conflict in a way that fosters compromise and resolution. This is a sign of maturity, and one which will take you far in life.
3. Practice self-awareness and empathy.
Consider your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Think about the way you interact with the world and other people.
Are you kind? Are you respectful? How do your emotions and actions impact other people? Are you making them feel bad? Are you giving them the responsibility that should be yours? How have your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affected you in the past?
Treat others with kindness and respect. Stooping to the level of bad action says more about you than it does about an unkind person.
Understanding yourself also improves your decision-making because you’ll be more aware of how all the different factors relate to you, the situation, and to others. This will help your decisions to be more informed and less impulsive or irrational.
However, if you’re having a hard time with this, it may be worthwhile to visit a counselor to explore your thoughts, feelings, and motivations in more depth.
4. Practice and develop your self-discipline.
Patience is the strongest virtue that you can nurture. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight. It doesn’t matter if you want to get a degree or are trying to lose weight, whether you’re trying to build a relationship or land a particular career. Most goals take time to accomplish, and you won’t be able to put in that work without self-discipline.
A responsible adult understands that they must delay gratification to meet their goals. This is hard because gratification in all its forms is tempting to simply take right there and then. But taking it as soon as it is available can mean harming your chances of greater rewards in the future.
Some examples of self-discipline and delaying gratification include: avoiding distractions in favor of focused work, saying no to nights out with your friends if you’re trying to save for a new car, and sticking as closely as possible to a plan in order to see it through.
5. Embrace your mistakes as learning opportunities.
You will make mistakes. Sometimes they will be small, inconsequential things. Sometimes they will be colossal blunders that burn your life straight to the ground. It happens. Mistakes are a part of life, and you must deal with them. The question is: how will you deal with them?
Yes, you can try to shift the blame, avoid responsibility for your actions, and bemoan the unfairness of it all. Or, you can look at the situation, your choices, and what led you to your choices and make a change.
Every mistake is a learning opportunity to encourage us to improve. What you make of your mistakes depends entirely on your attitude. A mature attitude is one that faces mistakes rather than running from them—it looks for ways to resolve any harm caused, either through direct action to make amends or by being humble enough to give a genuine apology.
Learning from your mistakes can help you develop the self-awareness mentioned above. With each mistake, you discover more about your strengths, your weaknesses, and your motives. You learn about yourself and identify areas to work on. This can help you avoid similar mistakes in the future.
6. Improve on and develop a positive attitude.
Attitude counts for a lot in life. Positive, happy people don’t spend much of their time around negative, angry people. This is because anger and negativity are far more infectious than happiness. And while happiness can certainly be infectious, it is a much harder mental state to cultivate in a hard life. So happy people try to protect their space to keep themselves happy.
A positive attitude is nothing to be scoffed at. Furthermore, a positive attitude doesn’t mean you must be painfully naive. Sometimes positivity is just being assured that this difficult time will pass and you will move on to something else. Sometimes positivity is just learning how to be happy at this moment, right now, despite what might happen tomorrow.
Generally speaking, if your attitude sucks and you constantly complain, you will find yourself surrounded by other negative people or without friends.
So, by all means, have a bad day, vent about it once or twice, and allow yourself to feel your negative feelings when needed. Just make sure it’s not your entire personality.
7. Be reliable and punctual.
As an adult, you should be reliable. What does it mean to be reliable? It means you do what you are supposed to and live up to your word.
You need to ensure you do what you say you will do. If you don’t, others will view you as immature and childish. They won’t rely on you for things, bad or good. Because if you can’t be relied upon to keep your word, then people will pass opportunities on to those who are reliable, and you will miss out on them.
Part of being reliable is being punctual. If you are late all the time, then you must address whatever the reasons are for it. Being late once in a while or having an emergency? Reasonable people are not going to have a problem with that. It happens. Everyone experiences unexpected things once in a while.
But if you’re chronically late? People interpret that to mean that you think your time is more important than everyone else’s. You will miss opportunities if you don’t address the reason for your lateness and lack of time management skills. These are things you can learn and correct.
8. Take initiative in your responsibilities.
You’re an adult. You have responsibilities. Stop putting them off and get them done. Don’t try to shrug them off onto your coworkers or your loved ones. Don’t let your dishes and laundry pile up. Don’t let your bills stack up when they could be paid. Don’t expect your partner to do all the housework. It’s not cute if you can’t cook a meal for yourself or know how to operate a washing machine.
“Well, no one taught me.” That may be, but there are a billion YouTube videos that can teach you if you take the initiative to go learn instead of expecting someone else to hand it to you. For example, you need to eat, and you need clean clothes. It’s not a tremendous leap to understand that you must know how to do these things.
A lack of initiative and responsibility will screw up your relationship. Your partner is your partner. Not your parent. Not your guardian. Not your caretaker. And sooner or later, they will get fed up with being your parent on top of dealing with all their personal responsibilities.
9. Take better care of your physical and mental health.
Your health is the single most important thing that you can have. Maintaining and improving your health opens many other doors in your life.
A healthy diet and eating habits will improve physical health and help you feel more energetic. Physical health and energy will help you stave off sicknesses, so you won’t need to miss work or be in and out of the doctor’s office. Regular checkups can help you identify small problems before they become major problems.
Mental and emotional health is just as important. You’ll want to find healthier ways to resolve your traumas and improve your mental health so you can live the happier life you want. Furthermore, having your mental and emotional health under control means you’ll make less impulsive, reckless decisions that can harm you.
10. Keep learning to expand your knowledge and skills in life.
As a human being, you will have multiple opportunities to learn and grow in life. You will be confronted with different people and situations that can help you expand your horizons. Take the opportunity to grow your knowledge and your life skills whenever you can. Be open to new perspectives and new ways of doing things; don’t think you know it all because trust me, you don’t.
Don’t shy away from new experiences, no matter how uncomfortable they make you feel. By doing new things, you stretch yourself, you grow your self-confidence, and you become a more rounded individual. Childish people often stay firmly in their comfort zone, so to stop being childish, you’ll need to get out of yours.
Living your life, fulfilling your responsibilities, and seeking to learn more will help you reduce your childishness. These are the characteristics of maturity that other adults are often looking for.
No one wants to deal with a child in an adult body.
But there is something worth noting here. Many of the issues we’ve addressed here can overlap with mental health issues. For example, sometimes a person is chronically late not because they are irresponsible but because they have uncontrolled ADHD or ADD that is negatively affecting their executive function. They cannot practice good time management because their brain won’t stay on board with the thought processes to do that.
Do consider seeking professional help if you’re trying to make this change. You may find that many “childish” behaviors may be tied to a mental health issue that needs treatment. And you may find that with treatment, these things stop being such an issue.