"Children should be mature, strong and be able to deal with difficult challenges."
"My daughter is 10, she is old enough to know the truth."
These are some of the statements I have heard my clients' parents say to me. The danger of these statements often lie in the dismissal of the child as a child who needs to be innocent and protected from too much information and too much responsibility.
When we do not afford a child the appropriate opportunity to be innocent and vulnerable, a child can experience adultification. How do parents or caregivers engage in adultification?
Children are told about occurrences that are not appropriate for them to know about. (For example, a child is told that their aunt wanted to physically assault their grandmother while the grandmother lived with their aunt.)
Children are spoken to as if they are adults and are expected to behave and speak like adults in return.
Children are given responsibilities by other adults such as cooking, buying groceries, taking care of siblings (more than they should at their age.)
What are the signs of adultification in a child?
Using adult-like language when speaking to others.
Trauma-responses such as behavioural difficulties, difficulties with academic performance, physical ailments or complaints, anxiety, high levels of stress.
Substance abuse or eating disorders.
Perfectionism and setting high standards for themselves and others
What's most important here is to recognise that children need to children: innocent and free from too much responsibility.
Do you think your child has been exposed to adultification or do you need more guidance on this as a parent? Visit my website for more information on my services and contact details.