Are your children growing up too fast?

Children dressing up like adults; watching movies with sex scenes; and having the responsibility of feeding and caring for their younger siblings.

Is this happening in your own family? Are your children being forced to grow up too fast?

Child developmentalist Ruth Liew asks, “Why do they have to look like little mini adults?”

She explains that she used to dress her own children in the most comfortable clothes that they could run in and mess up because that's what childhood is all about – having fun and exploring.

Liew attributes children growing up too fast to parents being caught up in the rat race and wanting to be ahead. According to her, it's not just happening in the cities.

Times have changed

Children today are influenced by what they see in the media, by the technology they are exposed to, and what they see in the environment around them.

“I don't think we can ever reverse that. I think what we need to do is know the alternatives.

People in some countries are going back to the basics where they delay academic learning. They're not rushing the kids to get through things.

“I guess we are all caught up in the rat race because we want to be more developed. But, we need to know when to relax,” she adds.

While we may think it quite harmless, psychologists say there are effects and repercussions involved.

Stage of development

Psychologist and family marriage therapist Ivy Tan says that according to renowned psychologist Erik Erikson there are eight stages of development for humans, from infancy right up to death. Each stage has its own challenges to be overcome.

Erik Erikson’s Stages of Development:

Stage: Infancy (birth to 18 months)

Basic conflict: Trust vs. Mistrust

Important events: Feeding

Outcome: Children develop a sense of trust when caregivers provide reliabilty, care, and affection. A lack of this will lead to mistrust.

Stage: Early childhood (2 to 3 years)

Basic conflict: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Important events: Toilet training

Outcome: Children need to develop a sense of personal control over physical skills and a sense of independence. Success leads to feelings of autonomy, failure results in feelings of shame and doubt.

Stage: Preschool (3 to 5 years)

Basic conflict: Initiative vs. Guilt

Important events: Exploration

Outcome: Children need to begin asserting control and power over the environment. Success in this stage leads to a sense of purpose. Children who try to exert too much power experience disapproval, resulting in a sense of guilt.

Stage: School age (6 to 11 years)

Basic conflict: Industry vs. Inferiority

Important events: School

Outcome: Children need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.

Stage: Adolescence (12 to 18 years)

Basic conflict: Identity vs. Role Confusion

Important events: Social relationships

Outcome: Teens need to develop a sense of self and personal identity. Success leads to an ability to stay true to yourself, while failure leads to role confusion and a weak sense of self.