Act Like An Adult and Build Self-Esteem

September 25, 2013 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

When you behave and act like an adult, it is good for creating healthy self-esteem. This doesn't mean you have to read The Times every morning or button up your suit, rather it is a way you treat yourself and others that reduces anxiety and negative self-talk. I know many adults who act immature and children whose behaviors are better than grey haired grown-ups. Whether you're 14 or 42, you have likely been taught some basics about acting maturely. The more childish you are in handling life's ups and downs, the worse you will feel in the long run.

We call it mature when you pay the bills early, on time, or set up an automatic payment to avoid getting a late fee, or worse yet hurting your credit score. When you think about how these mature actions affect your internal state, they breed more trust and control within yourself. Conversely, acting childish can lead to more problems and stress, and is a continual cycle down the self-esteem "rabbit hole."

Acting Like an Adult Serves Your Best Interests

[caption id="attachment_1447" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Guilt about something we have done, or actively avoiding brings about anxiety; anxiety brings about doubt; doubt decreases self-esteem."][/caption]

The Father of Transactional Analysis (TA is a theory of Psychology), Eric Berne, created the famous 'parent adult child' theory in which the adult “ego state” is the more balanced, less strict or emotional. The adult in you acts in a way that serves your best self, builds your confidence and increases the likelihood that you will feel good about your current decision in the future. Acting like an adult is a balance between emotionally fueled decision making and rigidity, which he considers to be the "child" and "parent" ego states. An adult state of mind is where we want to be.

How to Act Like an Adult

What does "acting like an adult" really mean? Here are some tips and examples.

Set it up now. Automatic payments, doctor appointments, appointment reminders, and even birthdays, can all be done online or with your smart phone. Take two minutes today and save thousands of worry and anxiety filled thoughts (which notoriously deplete yourself-esteem) later. That dentist appointment you have been putting off or even the bill that is over-due, no longer a drain on your time. Take care of your physical health now. If something is ailing you, make the appointment.

Stop splurging. Your body and bank account can't bounce back like they once could. Late night pizza sessions or trying to "keep up with the Jones" and buying things beyond your budget lead to long-term physical and mental health issues. Save your pennies for a rainy day or eat a few slices not the whole pie. It leads to less guilt and more control.

Clean it up. Nothing makes you feel like your adolescent self than a sink full of dirty dishes and an unkempt home life. No one is perfect. I certainly have piles of books and papers around my apartment in a somewhat “organized-for-me” fashion. However, dirty or messy living spaces can make you feel like you are living in a collage dorm room. Literally, it can push you into a scattered frame of mind. How great does it feel when you know where something is and don't spend hours looking for your keys or shirt you want to wear? Its a feeling of relief and confidence.

Avoid negative energy. Those people who complain, criticize or constantly belittle you, that’s like being stuck in an adolescent state of mind. Instead, adults chose the people they want around. Terrible colleagues or fighting family members may not be easy to avoid, but the logical side of your mind knows to stay away when you can and keep your interactions with them brief. You don’t want that polluting your mature mindset.

Avoid avoiding. You may feel like you're in control, temporarily, but the more things build up, (whether it be the monthly bills, writing that frustrating email, or taking the next step in whatever you need to do), the more you put it off, the more it effects your self-esteem. Do it once and get it done.

Use manners. Be polite. Don’t get into aggressive arguments or engage in embarrassing behavior. Send the thank you card, call your grandma back, chew with your mouth shut, and try to take responsibility for your actions. If you messed up or made a mistake, admit to it now before it creates even more anxiety. It's okay to admit you're wrong. You don't always have to be right. Most humans aren't. Also, say sorry if you're wrong. You will feel better.

Its always a good idea to activate your inner-child in creativity, don't hide him or her. However, in making decisions that effect your self-esteem and self-confidence, its best to act more like an "adult" than a toddler.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2013, September 25). Act Like An Adult and Build Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Toni Carthan
November, 14 2015 at 7:09 am

Thank you. Just what I was looking for! I have lived most of my adult life from the parent-child ego. Not a good place to live as an adult.

sharon locke
January, 25 2015 at 10:37 am

that article was very very helpful for me, what I am going through now. I will definitely use your advise.

October, 10 2013 at 1:58 pm

This is so clean and simple. LOVE. I will try and grow up now. Thanks!

Dr Musli Ferati
October, 9 2013 at 1:23 am

Excellent and useful article, as well! To like and to be adult indicates different issue. But to intent to act like adult exhibits crucial personal life performance. Moreover, mature behave is building up through appropriate relationship in social milieu. In this way, the ability to adopt personal desires with circumstantial conditions decreases interpersonal frictions. To achieve this goal, it ought to see oneself by others-eyed. Each objection ought to serve as advantageous advise because we understand the real picture of "adult ego" , which have to face with daily psycho-social problems. Otherwise, we would be exposed continually to numerous conflict situations with danger consequences for mental health. Personal benefits come on across polite behave toward close relatives friends, and all around people.

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