Maturity is more than a matter of age. There are mature 6-year-olds and immature 80-year-olds. Maturity is a matter of how you treat yourself and others. It's how you think and behave. So if you're tired of all of the childish conversations and fighting around you, or you want people to have more respect for you, try some of these techniques to learn how to become more mature. No matter what age you are, when you are mature, you'll always be the grown-up in the room.
Developing Mature Behaviors
Develop your interests. Lacking dynamic or developed interests or hobbies might contribute to your seeming immature. Finding something that you enjoy doing and becoming an "expert" at it can make you seem more experienced and mature. It will also give you something to talk about with others, whether or not they also participate in your hobby.
Try to keep your hobbies active and productive. It’s a lot of fun to watch a TV show marathon, but it isn’t necessarily the best use of your time. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy movies, TV, and video games, but they shouldn’t be the only things you spend your time on.
Hobbies can increase your self-esteem and boost your creativity. They can also stimulate parts of your brain that make you feel positive and happy.
There’s basically no limit to the types of things you can do! Get a camera and learn photography. Pick up a musical instrument. Practice a new language. Learn to beatbox. Start a live-action roleplaying group. Just make sure that whatever you choose is something you enjoy doing, or it’ll become a chore rather than a hobby.
Set goals and work towards them. Part of maturity is being able to assess your current strengths, determine areas that you need to improve, and set goals for the future. Keep the future in mind and let it inform the choices you are making about your life right now. Once you have set goals that are clear, actionable, and measurable, take action to work towards them.
Setting goals can seem overwhelming, but don’t worry! It just takes a little time and planning. Start by figuring out what really matters to you—what do you value, and what do you want to do next in your life? From there, you can figure out the steps you need to take to get where you want to be.
First you need to think about a few categories: Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why.
Who. This is who will be involved in achieving your goals. Obviously, you are the primary person here. However, this category could also include a tutor, a volunteer coordinator, or a counselor.
What. What do you want to achieve? It’s important to be as specific as possible in this step. “Prepare for college” is way too big. You’ll never get started on a huge vague goal like that. Instead, choose a few specifics that will help you achieve that bigger goal, like “Do a volunteer activity” and “Participate in an extracurricular activity.”
When. This helps you know when specific parts of your plan have to be done. Knowing this will help keep you on track. For example, if you want to volunteer, you need to know if there’s a deadline to apply, when the activities are, and when you’ll be able to do them.
Where. It’s often helpful to identify where you’ll be working on achieving this goal. For the volunteering example, you might choose to work at an animal shelter.
How. In this step you identify how you’ll achieve each stage of your goal. For example, what is the process for contacting the shelter to volunteer? How will you get to the animal shelter? How will you balance your volunteering with your other responsibilities? You have to think about answers to these types of questions.
Why. This is probably the most important part, believe it or not. You’re more likely to achieve a goal when it’s meaningful to you and you can see how it fits in the “big picture.” Figure out why this goal is important. For example, “I want to volunteer at the animal shelter so that I can make my resume more attractive for pre-vet college programs.”
Know when it is okay to be silly. You do not have to be serious all of the time in order to be mature. Real maturity is knowing your audience and figuring out when it’s appropriate to be silly and when it’s important to be serious. It’s good to have different levels of silly so you can scale your actions appropriately.
Try setting aside a part of your day that’s just for goofing off. You need time to blow off steam and get goofy. Give yourself a little time every day (say, after school) to indulge in wacky hijinks.
Understand that silliness usually isn’t appropriate in formal situations, such as school, church, at work, and especially at funerals. You’re expected to be paying attention, not pranking people. Being silly in these situations will usually communicate immaturity.
However, informal situations like hanging out with your friends, or even time with your family, can be a great time to get silly. It can even help you bond with each other.
Establish some parameters for when it is okay and when it is not okay to play a joke or be silly. Don’t use mean-spirited or belittling humor or pranks.
Be respectful of others. We all have to live in the world together. If you do things to intentionally annoy others, or if you do whatever you want without keeping the feelings of others in mind, people may view you as immature. Trying to remember the needs and wants of other people around you will help you cultivate a reputation as a mature and respectful individual.
Being respectful of others doesn’t mean you have to let them walk all over you. It does mean that you need to listen to others and treat them the way you’d like to be treated. If the other person is rude or unkind to you, don’t respond with unkindness of your own. Show that you’re the bigger person by walking away.
Pick mature friends. Your friends will influence your behavior. Make sure that you're associating with people who will make you a better person, instead of spending time with people who only drag you down.
Don’t be a bully. Bullying behavior often emerges from a sense of insecurity or poor self-esteem. It can be a way for people to try and assert their power over others. Bullying is bad for people who are bullied and for those who do the bullying.If you find yourself engaging in bullying behavior, talk to someone you trust, like a parent or school counselor, about how to stop.
Bullying falls into three basic types: verbal, social, and physical.
Verbal bullying involves things like name-calling, threatening others, or making inappropriate comments. While words don’t cause physical harm, they can cause deep emotional wounds. Watch what you say, and don’t say something to someone that you wouldn’t want them to say to you.
Social bullying involves doing damage to someone’s social reputation or relationships. Shunning others, spreading rumors, humiliating others, or gossiping are all types of social bullying.
Physical bullying involves hurting someone (or someone’s things). Any physical violence, as well as taking or destroying someone’s stuff or making rude gestures, are forms of physical bullying.
Don’t allow bullying to happen when you’re around, either. While you don’t have to get physically involved with a bully -- in fact, that can be really unsafe -- there are plenty of ways for you to help create a bully-free environment. Try:
Setting a good example by not bullying others.
Telling bullies that their behavior isn’t funny or cool.
Being nice to victims of bullying.
Telling responsible adults about bullying.
If you feel like you have a bullying problem, consider talking with a counselor or therapist. Maybe you have some deeper issues that are making you feel like you need to belittle or pick on others. A counselor can give you approaches to develop more positive relationships.
Avoid gossip, rumors, and talking about others behind their backs. Gossip, rumor-mongering, and backstabbing can hurt other people just as much as if you’d punched them in the face -- maybe even more.Even if you don’t mean gossip maliciously, it can still do damage. Mature people care about others’ needs and feelings and don’t do things that could cause hurt.
Gossip won’t necessarily make you cool or popular, either. Studies have shown that gossip may make you seem cool when you’re in fifth grade, but by ninth grade (when you’re hopefully more mature) gossipers are generally seen as less likeable and less popular.
Don’t encourage gossip either. If someone tries to initiate gossip when you’re around, speak up: research shows that when even one person says “Hey, I’m not cool with gossiping about other people” it can really make a difference.
Sometimes, you may say something nice about someone and it can end up translated by other people as gossip. For example, maybe you told a friend “I really like hanging out with Ziyi. She’s so funny!” and someone else told someone else that you said something mean. You can’t control how other people interpret or respond to what you say. The only thing you can control is what you say and do. Make sure that your words are kind.
A good test to determine whether something is gossip or rumor is to ask yourself: Would I want other people to hear or know this about me? If the answer is no, don’t share it with others.
Be the bigger person if someone is unkind to you. If you can let it go, don't reply; your silence will communicate that what the person said was not okay. If you can't let it go, simply tell the person that their comment was rude. If the person apologizes, accept the apology; if there's no apology, just walk away.
Keep an open mind. Mature people are open-minded. Just because you have never heard of or tried something, doesn't mean you should shut it out or dismiss the possibility. Instead, look at it as an opportunity for you to learn about something (or someone) new and different.
If someone has a different belief or habit than you do, don’t judge it immediately. Instead, ask open questions, such as “Could you tell me more about this?” or “Why do you do that?”
Try to listen more than you talk, at least at first. Don’t interrupt people or say “But I think---” Let them talk. You’ll be surprised what you learn.
Ask for clarification. If someone says or does something that doesn’t seem right, ask for clarification before you make a snap judgement. For example, if you think someone just insulted your beliefs, take a deep breath and then say something like, “I heard you say _______. Is that what you meant?” If the other person says s/he didn’t mean it that way, accept it.
Don’t expect the worst from people. Go into situations expecting that everyone else is human, just like you. They probably won’t try to be mean or hurtful, but they may also make mistakes. Learning to accept people just as they are will help you be more mature.
Sometimes, you just won’t agree with someone else. That’s okay. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree -- that’s part of being mature.
Have confidence in yourself. Do not apologize for any quirks or oddities that you may have, even if others don’t approve. As long as your behaviors aren't antisocial and won’t cause anyone harm, you should feel free to express your individuality. Mature people don't second-guess themselves or try to be something that they aren't.
Developing hobbies and skills you’re good at is a great way to build your self-confidence. You’ll learn that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to, and have a cool set of skills to share with others.
Watch out for that inner critic. If you notice negative thoughts about yourself, think about whether you’d say them to a friend. If you wouldn’t do it to a friend, why would you tear yourself down? Try rewording these negative thoughts into helpful ones.
For example, you might think “I am such a loser! I suck at math and I’ll never get any better.” This isn’t a helpful thought, and it definitely isn’t something you’d tell a friend. Reword it in terms of what you can do about it: “I’m not great at math, but I can work hard. Even if I don’t make an A in the class, I’ll know I did my best.”
Be genuine. A mark of true maturity is being true to who you are. You can have self-confidence without acting arrogant or pompous. A mature person doesn’t have to tear others down or pretend to be something s/he’s not to feel good about him or herself.
Talk about things that truly interest you. When you care about something, it shows.
When you have negative thoughts about yourself, it can be tempting to go overboard denying them. For example, if the thought “I really am worried about this test next week” shows up, your first reaction might be to pretend “Nothing scares me!” This isn’t true to yourself. It’s more mature to admit when you’re feeling insecure or vulnerable. Everyone has moments when they don’t feel confident. That’s totally normal.
Express your feelings clearly. Beating around the bush or being passive aggressive aren’t mature or genuine ways to deal with your feelings. Be polite and respectful, but don’t be afraid to say how you really feel.
Do what you think is right. Sometimes, other people may mock or criticise you for it. However, if you stick to your principles, you’ll know you’ve been true to yourself. If people don’t respect that, you don’t want their good opinion anyway.
Accept personal responsibility. Possibly the most important part of becoming a more mature person is accepting responsibility for your own words and actions. Remember that things don’t simply happen to you. You are an agent in your own life, and your words and actions have consequences both for yourself and others. Own up when you make mistakes. Recognize that you can’t control what anyone else does, but you can control what you do.
Accept responsibility when things go wrong. For example, if you do badly on an essay, don’t blame it on the teacher. Think about what actions you took to get you to that result. What can you do better next time?
Focus less on whether something is fair. Things will not always be fair in life. Sometimes, you may deserve something that you don’t get. Mature people will not allow unfairness to stand in the way of their accomplishments.
Take control of what you can. A lot of anxiety comes from trying to control things that aren't necessarily yours to control. However, there are things you can control, and it's important to be aware of those and to work on what you can in order to improve those things. For example:
For the job: You can polish and proofread your resume. You can prepare for the interview as well as you can. You can dress professionally when you interview for the job. You can show up on time. You may still end up not getting the job, but you will have done everything within your control.
For relationships: You can be respectful, funny, and kind. You can be yourself around the other person. You can be vulnerable and tell him/her that you’d like to have a relationship. These are things you are in control of. Even if things don’t work out, you can rest easy knowing you stayed true to yourself and gave yourself the best shot.
Don’t accept defeat. Most of the time, people give up because it’s easier than trying again. It’s much easier to say “I’m a loser” than it is to say “Well, that approach didn’t work out, let’s see what else I can do!” Accept responsibility for your choices and choose to keep on trying, no matter what.
Communicating Like an Adult
Control your temper. Anger is a powerful emotion, but it can be tamed. Don't overreact to minor things that don't matter. When you feel yourself getting upset, stop and take 10 seconds to think about your response before you do or say anything. This will keep you from things you regret and will help you become a more mature communicator.
After you stop, ask yourself what’s really going on. What’s the real problem here? Why are you upset? You may find out that you’re really mad about something that happened two days ago, and actually not about having to clean your room.
Think of potential solutions to the problem. Run through a couple of ways you might react before you pick one. What will address what’s going on?
Consider the consequences. This is where a lot of people may stumble. “Doing what I want” is often the most attractive solution, but will it really fix the problem? Or will it make it worse? Think about what the result of each option is likely to be.
Pick a solution. After you’ve considered the possible consequences of each option, pick the one that seems best for you. Note that this won’t always be the easiest or the most fun! That’s just part of becoming more mature.
If you must say something, use a calm voice and give some reasonable arguments to justify how you're feeling. If the person just wants to argue and doesn't want to listen, walk away from the conflict. It's not worth it.
When you're enraged or about to overreact, take deep breaths and count to 10. You must maintain self-control and not let wrath get the better of you.
If you have a temper, people may enjoy provoking you. When you control your temper, they will lose interest in making you angry and will start leaving you alone.
Learn assertive communication techniques. When adults want to communicate maturely, they use assertive techniques and behaviors. Assertiveness isn’t the same as cockiness, arrogance or aggression. Assertive individuals express their own feelings and needs clearly, and they listen when others do the same.Arrogant and selfish individuals don’t care about others’ needs and are focused on getting what they want, when they want it -- whether or not it makes others miserable. Learn to stand up for yourself without being arrogant or aggressive, and you’ll definitely feel more mature. Here are some ways to communicate assertively:
Use “I”-statements. “You”-statements make other people feel blamed and shuts them down. Keeping the focus on what you’re feeling and experiencing keeps the way open for productive, mature communication.
For example, instead of telling your parents “You never listen to me!” try using an “I”-statement like “I feel like my perspective hasn’t been heard.” When you say you “feel” a certain way, the other person is more likely to want to know why.
Recognize others’ needs too. Life isn’t all about you. It’s great to communicate your feelings and needs clearly, but remember to also ask others about theirs. Being able to put others first is a true sign of maturity.
Don’t jump to conclusions. If you aren’t sure what happened with someone, ask! Don’t prejudge -- remember, you don’t have all the information.
For example, if your friend forgot that you were supposed to go shopping together, don’t assume that it’s because she doesn’t care or is a terrible person.
Instead, use an “I”-statement and follow it up with an invitation for her to express her feelings: “I felt really disappointed when you couldn’t make it shopping. What’s up?”
Offer to collaborate with others. Instead of saying “I want to go skateboarding,” ask others for input: “What would everyone like to do?”
Avoid constant swearing. Many people and cultures have expectations that mature communicators won’t curse or swear. Swearing can shock others, or even make them feel as though you’re disrespecting them. Swearing can also cause others to think that you’re incompetent or bad at communicating. Instead of swearing, try expanding your vocabulary. As you learn new words, use them to express yourself.
If you frequently swear when you’re upset or when you hurt yourself, try making it a game to come up with creative exclamations instead. Instead of swearing when you stub your toe, it’s a lot funnier (and more impressive) to say something creative like “Fudge monkeys!”
Speak politely and refrain from raising your voice. If you raise your voice, especially when you are angry, you’re likely to make people uncomfortable. They may even decide to tune you out.Screaming is what toddlers do, not mature adults.
Use an even, calm tone of voice, even when you’re upset.
Watch your body language. Your body can say as much as your words. For example, crossing your arms in front of you can tell others that you’re not interested in what they’re saying. Standing slouched over communicates that you’re not really “there” or you want to be somewhere else. Learn what your body is communicating, and make sure it’s what you want.
Hold your arms relaxed at your sides instead of crossing them in front of you.
Stand up straight, with your chest out and head parallel to the floor.
Remember that your face communicates too. Don’t roll your eyes or stare at the floor.
Talk about mature topics with people. Examples of mature topics include school, the news, life experiences, and life lessons you have learned. Of course, you can take some time for being goofy with your friends. It’s all about considering your audience. You probably won’t talk about the same topics with your best friend as you do with your math teacher.
Ask questions. One of the signs of maturity is intellectual curiosity. If all you ever do is talk at someone, you won’t seem very mature. Ask others for their input. If someone says something interesting, say “Tell me more about that!”
Don’t pretend to know something you don’t. It can be hard to admit you don’t know something. After all, you really want to appear mature and informed. But pretending to know something only to have it come out that you don’t could make you look (and feel) foolish. It’s much better to say something like, “I haven’t read much about that. I’ll have to look into it!”
Say something nice. If you can't say something positive, don't say anything at all. Immature people constantly criticize things and point out flaws about other people, and they don't hesitate to say hurtful insults by all matters. Sometimes, they justify cruelty by stating that they're just "being honest." Mature people choose their words carefully, and they don't hurt people's feelings in their quest to be "honest," so remember to watch what you say, and don't say things that hurt other's feelings. Treat people the way that you want to be treated.
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Learn to apologize sincerely for your mistakes. No matter how conscientious you are, you're going to say the wrong thing or inadvertently hurt people from time to time. We all do stupid things once in a while, because nobody on earth is perfect. Learn to swallow your pride and say, "I'm sorry." A genuine, honest apology when you've done something wrong demonstrates true maturity.
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Tell the truth, but be compassionate. This is a really difficult skill to master, but thinking about whether you would want someone to say something to you can help you figure out what to say. In Buddhism, there’s a saying: “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself: is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” Consider it before speaking. Those around you will appreciate your honesty, and your compassion will show that you truly care about others.
For example, if a friend asks you if her dress makes her look fat, consider what would be most helpful. Beauty is very subjective, so offering an opinion on her looks isn’t likely to be helpful. However, telling your friend that you love her and she looks just the way she is could be the confidence boost she needs.
If you really think your friend’s outfit is not attractive, there are tactful ways to say this if you think it will be helpful. For example, “You know, I like the red dress better than this one” doesn’t judge your friend’s body -- nobody needs that -- but it does answer her question of whether she looks her best.
Behavioral scientists suggest that some types of dishonesty are actually “pro-social,” little lies you tell to help others avoid embarrassment or hurt. It’s up to you to decide whether this is something you want to do. Whatever you decide, choose to be kind in doing it.
Use good manners when you interact with people. Shake hands with a solid, firm grip, and look right into that person's eyes. If your culture has a different way to greet others, use that form in an appropriate and polite way. When you meet someone new, make a good effort to remember the person's name by repeating it: “Nice to meet you, Wendy.” Good manners communicate that you respect the other person, which is the behavior of a mature person.
Throughout any conversation, listen carefully and maintain eye contact. Don’t stare at the other person, though. Use the 50/70 rule: make eye contact for 50% of the time when you’re talking, and 70% of the time while the other person is talking.
Avoid fidgeting or fiddling with random objects. Fidgeting is a sign that you lack confidence. Keep your hands open and relaxed.
Don't sit there thinking about places you'd rather be. Most people are very good at noticing when you don’t care about an interaction, and it will hurt their feelings.
Don't talk on your cell phone or text people while you should be paying attention to the person in front of you. This communicates disrespect.
When you enter a new situation or new community, keep quiet for awhile and notice how other people are acting. It's not your job to tell other people what they should or shouldn't do. Instead, watch and be respectful.
Observe good online etiquette. Using good online etiquette shows that you respect your friends, family and other people that are hanging out with you online. It’s a sign of maturity. Keep in mind that a lot of what you say online can also be seen by people like potential employers, teachers, and others, so don’t say things that would embarrass or hurt you.
Avoid strong or offensive language. Don’t overuse exclamation points. Remember that you aren’t there in person to clarify your point, so make sure not to overwhelm your audience.
Use your shift key. Capitalize proper nouns and the beginnings of sentences instead of writing in all lower-case letters. Avoid using nonstandard cApitaliZaTion. It makes your writing much harder to read.
Avoid using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. This is the internet equivalent of shouting. This may be okay if you’re posting a tweet about how your hockey team just won the championship, but it’s not a good idea in daily emails and social media posts.
When sending an email, use a salutation (the “Dear” in “Dear John”). Starting an email without one is rude, particularly if it’s to someone you don’t know well or to someone like a teacher. Also use a closing, such as “Thank you” or “Sincerely.”
Proofread before you send an e-mail or make a social media post to make sure you didn't make a mistake. Use complete sentences, and be sure to add proper punctuation at the end of each sentence.
Go easy on abbreviations, slang and emoticons. It's okay to use these in a casual text to a friend, but don't use them in an e-mail to your teacher, or in another situation where you want to look mature.
Remember the golden rule online, just like the golden rule in real life. Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you want someone to be nice to you, be nice to them too. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Be helpful. Hold doors, help pick things up, and offer assistance to anyone who needs it. Consider being helpful in your community as well, like being a mentor to a younger student, tutoring, or working at an animal shelter. When you make others happy, you’re more likely to feel happy yourself. Serving others rather than just yourself is a very mature behavior.
Helpful acts may also boost your self-esteem. Studies have shown that when we help others, we get a sense of accomplishment and pride in what we’ve done.
Being helpful isn’t always a two-way street. There may be times when you help others and they don’t say “thank you” or offer to help in return. That’s on them. Remember that you’re being helpful for you, not to get anything from anyone else.
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Avoid trying to be the center of attention all the time. When you constantly take over conversations and talk about yourself all of the time instead of giving other people a chance to talk, it shows disrespect and immaturity. Showing a genuine interest in the interests and experiences of others can make you seem more mature and less self-centered. You might also learn something new or develop a new respect for someone based on what you hear.
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Accept both compliments and criticism with maturity. If somebody compliments you, say "thank you" and leave it at that. If someone criticizes you, be polite and say something "Okay, I'll definitely think it over." Maybe the criticism isn't valid, but handling it politely makes you look mature in the moment.
Try not to take criticism personally. Sometimes, people may be trying to help and aren’t communicating well. If you think that’s the case, ask for clarification: “I heard you say that you didn’t like my essay. Could you tell me some more specifics so I can do better next time?”
Sometimes, the criticism says much more about the person giving it than it does about you. If the criticism seems unfair or hurtful, remember that the other person may just be trying to make him or herself feel better by tearing you down. In some cases, they may even be reacting that way because they recognize something in you that they don't like about themselves.
Accepting criticism gracefully doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for yourself. If someone hurts your feelings, tell them in a calm and polite way: “I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but when you criticized my outfit it really hurt my feelings. Next time, could you not make comments about my appearance?”
Don't spend too much time criticizing yourself, either. If you notice something about yourself you'd like to change, work on it a little at a time. Keep in mind that any change is a process, so be patient if it doesn't happen overnight.