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On CHILD DEVELOPMENT - Maturity Levels


Parenting is an ongoing educational experience! For us parents, every day is different. We do, however, get to learn something new every day. So... instead of being upset, choose to learn! Wouldn't you believe that the everyday challenges of parenting teach us valuable lessons about life, children, and ourselves? I'm sure most people will agree that some of these everyday challenges are often frustrating and humbling, don't you? As parents, we all speak the same language and have the same expression of tension and anxiety, tinged with the wisdom of hard-fought battles and lessons learned. 


When parents speak about maturity, they often refer to their children as either immature or mature. Maturity is not an either/or attribute. It is something that children experience over time as they grow skills and the ability to cope with the complexities of life. Children are in different stages of development and maturity in the following areas as per shared by this article HERE at any given time. 


Maturity in Physical

  • Can they write legibly enough for themselves to read? 
  • How good is their hand-eye coordination? 
  • If they have the ability to dress themselves? 
  • Is their size appropriate for their age?
  • Did they start walking at a young age? 
  • Do they learn to ride a bike quickly and at a young age?
  • Are their muscles formed enough to enable them to regulate their bowel movement?

Maturity in Emotions

  • How long will they wait for a toy that they requested? 
  • Are they able to keep their frustration under control and communicate it constructively? 
  • How well will they deal with the frustration of being unable to build a LEGO tower? 
  • How well do they deal with loss or defeat in a game? 

Maturity in Social Relations

  • How eager are they to share something with a friend or sibling? 
  • How well do they play in big groups? 
  • When it comes to football, how cooperative are they? 
  • How do they get along with their classmates? 


Maturity in Thought

  • How well will they read the instructions for a new construction toy that they just received? 
  • How do they perform in school? 
  • Are they mature enough to comprehend abstract concepts like death or mathematical concepts? 
  • Can they grasp the principles of cause and effect, as well as time? 
  • How well will they apply what they learn in school to real-life situations? 

Moral/Ethical Maturity

  • Are they able to admit that they have treated others unfairly? 
  • How well do they understand the concepts of helping others and admitting mistakes?
  • How well do they understand the idea of being truthful and not lying? 
  • How well do they empathise with others? 

Trying to Make Sense of Maturity

Children grow at their own rate in all areas of growth. Children can be mature in one field while still being young in another. For example, a child may recognise the value of contributing to others in need (moral maturity), but he or she may be unwilling to share a new toy with their peers (social and emotional maturity). 


Adults will expect children to mature in other areas if they mature in one. People may expect a toddler to be advance verbally and in his interactions with other children if he is big for his age and physcally very coordinated. Similarly, a child who can read early (intellectual maturity) will be expected to manage anger and disappointment (emotional maturity) with greater maturity than one would expect of a child his age. 


These unrealistic expectations can lead to adult frustrations as well as children's low self-esteem and dissatisfaction. 


Consider each field of growth. Consider how far each of your children has progressed in each field when determining whether or not your children are mature. 


When children have the skill and desire to complete a mission on their own, they have reached maturity. When your children are both competent and ready to complete a mission, everything goes more smoothly. For example, if they can tie their own shoes (capable) and are excited about doing so (motivated), they will enthusiastically put their shoes on each morning so that they can tie their own shoes. 


Difficulties occur when talent and desire are not in sync. Children can have the potential but not the motivation, or vice versa. Children will have a strong desire but lack the necessary skills. When it comes to potty training, for example, very young children will experience a brief phase in which they are encouraged to use the potty but are physiologically incapable of doing so. In other cases, children may be physically capable of using the toilet but are unable to do so. For potty learning to be more effective, both capacity and encouragement must be present. 


Why is This Important to Understand?

Setting reasonable goals for children is one of the most important things parents can do for them. When parents expect so much from their children, they may become dissatisfied and discouraged, and their children's self-esteem may suffer as a result. Conflict may also increase, and children may give up trying. Children will not be challenged and will not reach their full potentioal if their parents expect very little, less than what their children are capable of. 


Knowing your children's maturity levels in and area of growth will help you strike a balance between expecting too much and too little from them.
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