Many of us have made comments without considering their impact, especially when it comes to children. One common phrase used to praise children is that they are “mature for their age.” While the phrase itself may seem harmless, therapists warn that it can have deeper implications. Being told you’re mature for your age could indicate that you were parentified as a child, taking on responsibilities that should not have been yours. This could include household tasks or caregiving for family members.

Being told you’re mature for your age could also point to the fact that you had to grow up quickly, often not by choice. Children forced into maturity may not have had the opportunity to enjoy their childhood fully, being denied the chance to be silly or make mistakes. Adults may see these mature children as reliable and dependable, but it’s important to understand that it’s not fair to expect a child to be mature or rely on them for emotional support.

The pressure associated with being mature for your age can extend into adulthood, leading to characteristics like people-pleasing tendencies, poor boundaries, and difficulty asking for help. Adults who feel they were forced into maturity at a young age should focus on self-care and healing their inner child. Seeking therapy from a trauma-informed therapist can also be beneficial in addressing the effects of being told they were mature for their age as a child.

Therapists recommend avoiding the phrase “You’re mature for your age” and instead commenting on specific behaviors or actions in children. By focusing on behaviors rather than labeling the child as mature, adults can allow children to be children and not put undue responsibilities on them. It’s important for adults to be aware of how this perceived maturity may be affecting their relationship with children and to foster their growth without burdening them with inappropriate responsibilities.

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