Dr. Maryann Rosenthal is an author and international speaker on family dynamics and life achievement issues. Dr. Maryann Rosenthal - Home | Contact
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PARENTING ARTICLES : The Four Stages of Maturity:
Teaching Our Children That They Always Have The Power To Choose What They Think, What They Do, and What They Say

Every child seems to go through four stages toward maturity.  Some people stay in kind of a childish or adolescent type of maturity, but there are four stages that can be identified.  The stages are:  “What can you do for me?” “I want to do it myself.” “Let’s do it together.” And, “What can I do for you.”

First, there's the little child who says and thinks, "What can you do for me today, world?  What can you do for me?"  In other words, "You take care of my needs" because young children need to be safe while they learn survival and security skills. As children move toward the teen years, they seek the privileges of adults with the responsibilities of a child.  "I want to do it, but I don't want to pay the consequences."  Or "I don't want to pay the fee." 

A lot of people go to work saying, "What are you going to do for me, company?  What are you going to do for me, world?  What kind of a vacation/sick leave program do you have for my retirement?  I've decided to see what you're going to give me before I'll do more for you" or "I'll do just enough to get my pay."

The next stage “I want to do it myself” is the motto of the adolescent who wants to break away from parental authority and become more independent.  "Excuse me, I want to do it myself, world. I'd like to do it myself, Mom and Dad  I’m almost an adult, and don’t feel the house rules and advice should apply to me.

If you are able to mature beyond the childhood and adolescent emotional stages and move away from "What can you do for me, world?" and "I want to do it myself" , you become a team player with the motto:  "Let's do it together, world. Let's do it together, team.  Come on, team.  We can do it together."  You realize you need to work with other people to achieve your goals.


© 2004 by Dr. Maryann Rosenthal.  Permission to reprint if left intact.

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