How Much Maturity to Expect in Teenagers



Is it normal to expect a thirteen-year-old normal child to behave like a mature child? I know in some circumstances few kids grow up to be very mature. How should I approach to make a child understand that she should become aware of the surroundings and act accordingly? I don’t think forcing or imposing on them is good idea. Should I be giving them more space to learn and wait to see results? Please suggest.


—Uma, India


Hello Uma,

The question of teens and maturity is an immensely important issue. They don’t look like cute little children anymore, but we also need to see that real maturity is going to take a while. In the book Education for Life maturity is defined as the ability to relate to realities other than your own. To help your teen move in this direction you can do the following things:

1) Engage them in conversations about different events you experience together. Ask reflective questions like: What do you think that person was thinking? Why do you think that person behaved that way?

2) Put them in situations that expand there life experience beyond what they’ve grown up with, for example: helping serve at a homeless shelter, offering to read books to hospitalized children, volunteering at an animal shelter, visiting with people at a retirement home, traveling to a different country.

3) Watch videos together of inspiring things people have done (Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, etc.), and then discuss the events with your son/daughter focussing on how their actions changed other people’s lives.

These are a few suggestions, but anything that expands your teen’s world in a positive way will be helpful. The bottom line is that they are finished with childhood and need to be treated differently, but not expected to perform at an adult level.