The Evolution from Child to Adult Thinking

There is no simple answer to this question. Age is not a factor because children mature differently physically, mentally, and psychologically. But one of the most influential factors in making the transition from childhood to adulthood is the environment they live in. The environment is divided into several parts, all which have different impacts on the child’s thinking.
Legal environment
In a very direct way, the law causes children to think differently. In states where marijuana use is legal, it has the same impact as the legal age to consume alcohol. Realizing that the time is approaching is one aspect of a change of thinking. Another is the age of responsibility, such as when someone can get married. Marriage is clearly a change in level of responsibility, so children with lower age restrictions on marriage will likely be thinking about adult issues sooner than a state where the age of marriage is a few years later.
Social environment
This is closely linked to the legal environment, but while the legal environment is a force, social constructs are often far more subtle and influential. For example, there may be considerable social pressure to be a participant in underage drinking despite the legal environment. Children who know people in their social group that have been arrested for underage drinking are more likely to have a clearer grasp of the reality of consequences being attached to personal actions. The issue of consequences for actions is central to the third type of environment.
Home environment
Thinking like an adult is largely the step from deflecting personal responsibility from the parent for legal and social missteps to acceptance of the consequences of your actions. The connection between thought, action, and consequence creates boundaries of personal thought and behavior. For example, many teenagers work at part time jobs to earn money. The idea of earning money, even at a very early age, is connected with what is expected to get the money in hand plus the relationship between the amount earned and the effort required. A teenager who has a child’s mentality about money will spend what they make because the connection that is made is about egocentrism. An adult mentality is to consider present and future uses for the money, such as living expenses, college tuition, or saving to buy a car.
It is clear there is a strong connection between these three environments, and is why age is not a factor in determining when a child starts thinking like an adult. A child of 10 may have adult thinking processes because they have had a weekly allowance and have saved some, while a 15 year old who makes $100 a week at a part time job may still think like a child because despite the weekly check they complain they still do not make enough. If all these environments have one thing in common, it is that the child begins to have a future perspective of life.
Nguyen Kinh Luan
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