Those of us who develop unhealthy coping habits do so in part because of our lack of emotional maturity. We missed the developmental parenting required to build humility, vulnerability, honesty, openness, fairness, sincerity, and several other qualities. Here is an explanation of what it is and what it isn’t.
What it is and is not
Maturity means that a person, animal, or plant has reached their final stage of growth. Someone who hasn’t reached that stage is immature. That’s easy to understand when it comes to physical development, but what does it mean to be emotionally immature?
The American Psychological Association defines emotional maturity as “a high and appropriate level of emotional control and expression.” Emotional immaturity, on the other hand, is “a tendency to express emotions without restraint or disproportionately to the situation.”. In other words, emotional behavior that is out of control or not appropriate to the situation can be considered immature. It’s more like the emotional reactions you might expect to see from a child than from an adult.
Signs of Emotional Immaturity
People who are emotionally immature don’t meet society's expectations for social behavior within their age range. It’s safe to assume that a grown-up will be able to consider their impact on others and pay attention to their feelings. Emotionally mature people can accept criticism and learn from it. Adults with emotional maturity can think about and plan for the future as well. People with emotional immaturity, however, struggle with these things.
People who are emotionally mature share these characteristics, they:
Emotionally immature people lack certain emotional and social skills and have trouble relating to other adults. Some behaviors can be a signal that you’re dealing with an emotionally immature person:
Impulsive behavior. Children are often impulsive. They speak out of turn or touch things that they shouldn’t touch. They say things without thinking about how they’ll affect other people. Over time, people learn not to do those things. Emotionally immature adults haven’t learned to curb their impulses. They act in unpredictable or antisocial ways.
Demanding attention. Young children get bored when people don’t pay attention to them. They’ll do things to draw the focus back to themselves, even if that means acting out in negative ways. Emotionally immature adults often do the same. They might not act out in negative ways, but they may inject themselves into conversations or crack inappropriate jokes to get everyone’s attention.
Name-calling and bullying. In general, adults don’t resort to schoolyard tactics when they relate to other adults. You seldom see two adults calling each other mean names. Someone who behaves like a mean kid in school is not using mature emotional tactics. Instead, they are relying on childlike displays of temper.
Avoidance. Emotionally immature people may not have a good sense of the future or how to plan for it. Refusing to take on significant responsibilities like committed relationships, careers, or investments like homeownership are signs of avoiding responsibility. People like this might let others take care of them way beyond the point that they should be self-sufficient. This is sometimes called Peter Pan syndrome, after the fictional character who never wanted to grow up.
Narcissism. An essential facet of maturity is the ability to think about other people’s needs and feelings. Immature people only appear to care about themselves. They dislike compromise and don’t want to take other people’s ideas into account. They always want to have their own way.
Source: Psychology Today
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