How to Deal With Immature Children

By Pam Goldberg Smith
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Immaturity in a child is a very frustrating thing to have to deal with, no matter the age. When expectations of normal development do not meet with reality, you must take extra steps to alter the behavior. It is beneficial to know how the parent may have contributed and what type of immaturity the child shows if he displays this behavior at specific places or in reaction to certain things.

Understand the Immaturity

Step 1

Learn the ways social and emotional immaturity can be displayed. The child might not easily relate to others in the same age group or could misunderstand what comes to others as common knowledge. In effect, he may internalize it, becoming very quiet and reserved. The child could throw temper tantrums and cry when among adults in an attempt to get attention. Children should never be allowed to resort to physical violence as an outlet for their emotions.

Step 2

Know that physical immaturity exists as well. Your child may not mean to spill the juice cup. Maybe he cannot prevent bumping into walls or wetting the bed. This just means that efforts to correct the behavior require physical in addition to verbal support.

Step 3

Check with a doctor if something may be medically wrong, such as attention deficit disorder or bipolar disorder. Though some signs are very similar to social and emotional immaturity, the behavior is something the child cannot always help.

Experience Creates Maturity

Step 1

Avoid asking why a child misbehaved or acted immaturely. He cannot formulate an answer as an adult would. The "why" of the situation is less important than affirming the behavior is unacceptable and working out alternative means of dealing with the emotions. Never humiliate a child with low self-esteem or compare his actions and behaviors to other children.

Step 2

Keep to simple instructions without negotiating. If necessary, removing privileges will motivate the child to quickly correct their behavior. A child whose demands are frequently met will not mature overnight and so maintaining consistent expectations is vital.

Step 3

Identify opportunities for the child to achieve success, especially if it falls in line with his interests, and encourage him to participate in alternate activities. At first the task may need to be somewhat below his age level but repeated success will help him grow over time. Even if he fails, praise the child's attempts, point out his strengths and discuss where he thinks he can make improvements.