Immaturity is something just about everyone displays from time to time, especially teenagers. It’s hard for your teen to act his age all the time, which means he may occasionally strike you as immature and slightly awkward. While it’s not unnatural for him to behave childishly on occasion, constant immaturity can pose a problem for him in his relationships with his peers, according to Dr. Steven Richfield, author and child psychologist. With a little sensitivity and insight, you can help your teen with his maturity level.
Explain the concept of maturity in the social aspect, advises Dr. Richfield. If your teen is immature, it’s highly likely that he’s already heard himself described as immature, annoying or obnoxious by his friends, siblings or peers, and they may treat him rudely by leaving him out or making fun of him. By defining immaturity and explaining that being immature is not his fault but that it is something he can work on changing, you will help him understand that he can fit in with people his own age.
Teach your teen the powers of observation. According to Dr. Richfield, when your teen has the ability to observe others who exhibit more maturity in varying social settings, he has the power to see what more mature teens act like. For example, if your teen constantly interrupts others when they are speaking, others may find him immature and annoying. By pointing out to him that more mature teens listen and wait until other are finished speaking to raise their point, you are helping him learn a mature lesson.
Let your teen be immature from time to time. David Elkind, child development professor at Tufts University and author of the book, “All Grown Up and No Place to Go,” advises that you need to let your teen be a teen. It helps him to mature when he is held accountable for his own actions, given the freedom to figure out his own identity and allowed the independence to learn for himself what’s considered immature and what’s not.
Model maturity for your teen. If your teen sees Dad playing video games all day long or hears you talking negatively about your friends when they aren’t around, he’s not learning what maturity really means. Be a positive example for him by treating others with kindness, being helpful and respecting those around you. Your sense of responsibility and maturity are extremely visible for your teen, and modeling them appropriately will help with his immaturity, reminds Elkind.
Don't expect your teen to become mature overnight. Teens are growing up, learning how to leave childhood behind and embracing the responsibility of impending adulthood, which means maturity isn't always something he will show.