Traits Of Immature People

This article is a long list of traits and behaviors that are often considered immature. Some of them can be caused by other reasons, but people may still see them as signs of immaturity.

Maturity has obvious benefits, like making you a more-functional person. Socially, mature people are generally better liked, though it's not a simple matter of trying to become as mature as possible. Maturity is like being nice in that if you're below average in it you can be off-putting, but once you're at a normal level, going above that doesn't earn you a ton of bonus points. People do appreciate maturity and niceness, but it's not the main factor they consider when deciding whether they enjoy someone's company.

Some immature behaviors are worse than others. Some are unquestionably obnoxious. Others peg you as being emotionally young, but aren't that harmful. They just make more mature people chuckle to themselves and think, "Ah, I remember being like that back in the day."

Maturity is relative. If you're younger, you don't need to be some wise village elder. Just aim not to be annoyingly childish compared to everyone else around your age. Simply because they're young as well, your peers won't have outgrown many of their own immature traits. You can end up feeling alienated if you look down on any hint of immaturity and try to set yourself above it all.

Also, maturity only helps you if you're truly mature, not acting like a stodgy caricature of it. Maturity doesn't mean becoming some self-serious stick in the mud who never goofs around or blows off steam. It doesn't mean dressing like an accountant and staying in every weekend to watch war documentaries. Someone isn't necessarily that mature just because they've checked off milestones like buying a house or having kids.

A giant list of immature traits

Poorer emotional regulation

Children don't have much control over their emotions. Their feelings come on fast and strong. They can have meltdowns over minor frustrations, like being told they can't have any grapes because dinner is soon. As people mature they gradually get better at containing their emotional ups and downs. This isn't to say they become stoic, hyper-logical robots. It's just that if they're really sad or angry, more often than not they can pause and decide what to do with the feeling, rather than acting rashly. Less-mature people still let their emotions get the best of them.

Being melodramatic

Think of a stereotypical moody teenager who's had a minor disagreement with their friends. It's the worst tragedy ever. They're soooo upset. Their social life is over. The next day their crush smiles at them, and they're over the moon about the latest development in this grand romance. As people get older they stop seeing every little thing that happens to them as an intense twist in a never-ending soap opera. More-immature adults haven't gotten past this tendency.

Acting childish when things don't go their way

When kids don't get what they want they can sulk, pout, whine, throw a hissy fit, stomp around and slam doors, or retreat to their room and refuse to come out. Immature adults keep doing these things past the point where they should have grown out of them.

Being more impulsive / not thinking ahead

A facet of having lower emotional regulation is behaving impulsively. Think of a twelve-year old whose buddy says, "I dare you to jump from that balcony into the swimming pool", and he just does it without thinking. As we get older we get better at considering the consequences of our actions. Adults are seen as more immature if they still make dumb decisions on the spur of the moment.

Pooer long-term planning / wanting immediate gratification

Kids are generally short-term thinkers. If you give them a few dollars many are going to spend it right away on knick knacks or junk food, rather than tucking it away for a larger purchase. Adults are better at seeing the bigger picture and delaying a pay off. Immature adults do things like spend their entire savings on an expensive car stereo system, even though they have rent due in a week. They either don't consider their finances at all, or do, but are too impatient to wait until they have more cash saved up.

Worse shorter-term planning

Children aren't great at planning on their own. They need adults to force them to do things like set aside enough time to do their homework, because they'd watch TV or play video games all evening if left to their own devices. Adults can come across as immature when they still haven't gotten the hang of managing their time and priorities (e.g., not leaving themselves enough time to buy groceries before the store closed, because they were hanging out with their friends).

Taking lots of physical risks

Not all kids are little daredevils, but overall children take more physical risks than adults. They'll see a tree and just start climbing it, or spend hours trying to jump their skateboard down a bunch of stairs. As we age we get more careful. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with an adult who's an adrenaline junkie. It's just that some people will see their behavior as less-mature, especially if they take risks for seemingly dopey, spontaneous reasons.

Being less-independent and self-sufficient

One of the classic images of immaturity is a grown man or woman who still can't do their own cooking or laundry, and has their parents or partner do it for them. It's even worse if they don't think they're doing anything wrong and believe everyone should keep taking care of them.

A sense of entitlement

As a kid you are reasonably entitled to things like food, shelter, and an education, as you can't get them yourself. As most people reach adulthood they realize they're expected to be independent going forward, and that they'll have to earn things like a fulfilling career or relationship. Immature people keep believing they inherently deserve to have the things want just given to them.

Egocentricity

Kids see the world as revolving around them. There's nothing evil or mean-spirited about it. It's just how their brains are wired. Plus they're relatively helpless and their parents have to do a lot for them, so it's natural they'd have a mindset where they think the world caters to them. As we mature we start to consider other people's needs and perspectives, and stop thinking everything is about us.

Seeing other people as a means to an end

A facet of being egocentric is viewing other people as objects to help you meet your own needs. Immature people can be thoughtless users or takers. For example, they'll use friends for favors or car rides. It's not out of malice, but because they take for granted that whatever they want will be everyone else's top priority too.

Less respect for other people's money

When you're a child your parents pay for most things. It's understandable that kids can't fully grasp the value of money, or the time and work it takes to earn it. They may assume that someone will always buy them the things they want, or get mad because their parents can't get them some expensive new shoes at the drop of a hat. You'll come across as immature if you're grown, but still expect other people to pay your way, or you don't seem to appreciate it when they buy something for you.

Less respect for other people's property

When you're a kid you have some toys and clothes to call your own, but the bigger items are all owned by adults. The idea of, say, treating the washing machine well so it lasts longer isn't on your radar. For this reason kids and teenagers can give less consideration to other people's stuff. Like a fourteen-year-old may borrow a friend's game, but leave the disc out when they're not using it, and let it get scratched. You'll be seen as immature if you're still casually thoughtless with other people's things when you're older.

Less-developed empathy

Generally speaking, children and teenagers aren't as empathetic as adults (that's not to say they're completely heartless, or that every grown up is a saint). Partially that's due to their egocentric orientation to life. They also haven't had as much time to learn about other people's perspectives and struggles.

One side-effect of lower empathy is being tactless, and blurting out whatever pops into your head, without considering how it could impact other people. This article covers a few others. One more worth mentioning in this piece is...

Being a jerk or a bully, especially in typically immature ways

It's no secret that kids can be horrible to each other. Just being a jerk when you're older can cause everyone to see you as someone whose mind is still stuck in middle school. You'll seem particularly immature if you act that way in a style associated with kids. A few examples:

Less sense of personal responsibility

What do kids often do when they mess up? They try to get out of it. They won't say what they did and hope no one notices. If they're confronted they may deny they had a part in it, or try to blame someone else. Even if they're given ironclad evidence that they screwed up, they may refuse to admit what they did was wrong. When a mature adult makes a mistake they step up and try to make things right. Immature adults still behave like kids who will do anything to avoid "getting in trouble".

Immature people also don't think anything is their fault. If they get reprimanded at their job for always being late, it's not that they need to work on their priorities or time management skills. Their boss is a jerk and out to get them, and the traffic is bad, and there are long lines at the place where they stop to get coffee on the way to work. If they get into an argument with their partner they may say something like, "You made me get mad and snap at you."

Being more likely to lie

Many kids go through a phase where they lie a lot for no reason other than it's a new thing they've realized they can do. Most people have had a high school classmate who B.S.'ed and talked out their ass about the most pointless, easy-to-disprove things. And some adults have had that immature friend who still feels the need to spin elaborate tales about the high-end nightclub they're about to open.

Having a poor attention span / getting bored or distracted easily

Kids are naturally distractible, have trouble sitting still, and quickly get bored if they're not being entertained. People naturally get better at holding their attention and tolerating a lack of stimulation as their brains develop. There are some legitimate reasons someone may carry these traits into adulthood, like having ADHD. However, at a glance someone might see them as a sign of immaturity.

Needing a ton of attention

No one wants to be completely ignored, but overall adults don't need to constantly have the focus on them the way kids do. Children will get antsy before long if the adults in the room talk just to each other for too long. They can have such a need to be acknowledged that they can misbehave, to at least get unpleasant attention over none at all. Immature adults can have that same mentality where they feel uneasy if the conversation isn't centered on them, and sometimes act out to regain the spotlight.

An overly antagonistic attitude toward authority

By the time they're teenagers, kids can be pretty sick of authority figures. Parents, teachers, coaches, and other adults have been telling them what to do and thwarting their fun for years. They can develop a knee-jerk attitude that anyone with any authority is a lame, out-of-touch buzzkill. They may purposely defy or annoy them to try to even the score in their mind.

As most people get older their view toward authority softens. They realize their boss may not be perfect, but is just a fellow adult who's trying to do their job. Less-mature people never lose that teenage mindset about anyone with power over them. They still see their supervisor as a cartoonishly strict teacher, and may feel compelled to talk back to them or engage in other petty acts of rebellion and defiance.

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Doing things that show an obvious lack of adult knowledge and life experience

These paint you as naive to older people, but are otherwise innocuous, unless you're really sure of your views in a grating way:

Cockiness / blind overconfidence

A part of cockiness is being so sure of yourself because you don't have the life experience to know you're not actually as great as you think you are. Younger people are more prone to cockiness for this reason. More-mature adults have greater perspective about their abilities.

Having classically immature values and priorities

A bunch of value systems are associated with teenagers and young adults. Some of these are okay in moderation, but definitely seen as immature if taken too far:

Having an overly immature sense of humor

Everyone laughs at crude humor from time to time, but you can seem juvenile if it's the main thing you find funny, or you seem way more amused by it than other people:

An immature approach to relationships

Here are some things less-mature people do in their relationships with their friends, family members, and romantic partners:

An immature approach to conflict

There are several reasons someone might act these ways in a conflict, but one of them is still immaturity:

An immature approach to problem solving or negotiation

If a mature person wants something from someone they might try to use logical reasoning to argue their case, or offer a sensible compromise or trade. Someone who's less-mature will resort to tactics like sulking, begging, cheap emotional manipulation, threats to not hang out anymore, and so on.

Being a poor sport / bad teammate

Behaving childishly in groups

Teenagers and young adults can get more obnoxious when they're out with a bunch of their friends. They get amped up and bold. They get loud and rowdy. They show off to each other. They start messing with random people. Think of a bunch of young guys driving to a nightclub, yelling stupid things out the window to people on the street.

Having a young-sounding way of talking

Even if someone is mentally their age, they can be seen as less-mature if they have a style of speaking associated with teenagers:

Having young-seeming body language

Dressing or decorating in a younger way

Picture a forty-one-year-old who still dresses like a high school student, or someone in their fifties whose house is decorated like a dorm room. Again, there's nothing intrinsically better or worse about certain clothes or decorations, but some styles may cause others to see you as being a child in an adult's body.

Behaving in ways associated with children

Here's a final catch-all category: