Child psychologist warns that maturity in children could be considered a 'red flag'

older sibling feeding younger sibling at table
An Aussie psychologist has issued a warning to parents to watch out for some behaviours. Photo credit: Getty Images.

An Australian psychologist is warning parents of children who act "mature for their age" that it can be a red flag for excess pressures at home. 

Dr Briony Leo, psychologist and Head of Coaching at relationship self-care app Relish, told Daily Mail Australia a number of factors can lead to high maturity levels in children, including personality traits and birth order.

For example, the eldest child will often feel a sense of responsibility for their younger siblings. 

But she adds this can lead to a child feeling the weight of "excessive responsibility" in scenarios later in life. 

In extreme cases, she says children can become 'parentified' if adults in their lives are not able to cope with their responsibilities due to mental or physical illness, addiction or personality issues.

"That said, some children will do this regardless of their parenting - sometimes children can be very sensitive to the environment around them, and can respond to environmental stressors by worrying and working hard to manage a situation that is out of their control," she said.

The dangers have been highlighted in a recent TikTok trend where Millennials who were dubbed "mature" or "gifted and talented" as children show they're now often struggling with personality disorders as adults. 

Mental Health activist Zachery Dereniowski shared a now-viral TikTok video outlining the issue to thousands. 

Dr Leo added that children who grow up too fast may face challenges later in adolescent and adulthood years, including problems with taking on too much at work and facing burnout, or taking excess responsibility for issues in relationships. 

So how do we avoid our children becoming too mature too fast? 

"Make sure your child has the opportunity to share with you safely how they are feeling, their concerns, anything that is going on for them," Dr Leo said. 

"This might mean you spend time as they go to bed talking about their day, or in the car on the way home from school." 

This will give them the chance to offload some of their pressures and worries onto the adult in their life, and the parents will be aware of any confusing or traumatic experiences the child may be going through.