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Problems With Making Kids Grow Up Too Fast

by Erica Loop

Think back to your childhood and try to recall all of the fun-filled memories of giggling with your girlfriends, riding your bike through your neighborhood or simply hanging with buds at the mall. When your little one feels the need to act more adult-like she can miss out on these, and many other, child-time pursuits. Whether your child feels pressure from her friends, the media or even you to act mature beyond her years, making kids grow up too fast is often problematic for many reasons.

Peer Pressure

Your child's own ideas and beliefs aren't the only ones that he will listen to. As your child moves into the tween and teen years, his friends are taking on primary roles in his life, making peer pressure an increasingly strong force. While peer pressure can have positive influences -- such as providing encouragement to try new activities like the drama club or debate team -- it also has negative consequences when it comes to making your child grow up too fast. For example, peers may exert pressure on your child to engage in adult-like activities such as drinking alcohol or having sex. This can lead to your child making poor choices, ending up in risky situations or even suffering long-term consequences such as an unplanned pregnancy.

The Media

If your child's friends aren't exerting an influence over her to grow up too fast, the media might. The American Academy of Pediatrics, on its HealthyChildren.org website, notes that the media -- TV shows, movies, advertising and the Internet -- can negatively influence kids when it comes to portrayals of sexual situations, body image and substance use. If your child is constantly seeing her favorite TV characters having sex at a young age, getting drunk or smoking, she may feel like these adult behaviors are completely acceptable. The media's role in making kids grow up too fast can lead to skewed perceptions of reality that leave your child not knowing what is age appropriate or acceptable.

Athletics

While athletics alone aren't exactly a bad thing for kids -- between the benefits of learning about team play and the physical activity, sports have an array of positives -- some aspects can contribute to making children act in an adult-like way. According to the Children's Hospital of Boston, kids are getting into sports at a younger age and often over-training. Whether it's pressure from coaches, from a parent or from the child himself, training at an adult level for athletics can contribute to overuse injuries such as tissue or bone damage.

Early Puberty

Sometimes it isn't an external influence that makes kids grow up fast, it's actually a very internal process. Early, or precocious, puberty occurs when high levels of sex hormones kick off body changes before the child is actually ready, according to HealthyChildren.org. Whether your child has an actual medical condition and is going through precocious puberty or is just starting the process on the earlier end of the spectrum, the body changes and maturation that she is going through can make her feel like she has to grow up quickly. Your early developing child may begin feeling badly about herself, suffering from low self-esteem or thinking that her body doesn't look like it should, putting her at risk for problems such as eating disorders.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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