Can you hear the old Toys ‘R Us jingle in your head?
“I don’t want to grow up. I’m a Toys ‘R Us kid. They’ve got a million toys at Toys ‘R Us that I can play with. I don’t want to grow up because if I did, I couldn’t be a Toys ‘R Us kid.”
Growing up can be scary. Many kids dream of the day when they can be an adult and take full control over their own lives, but not every kid has that dream. The fear of growing up is a real phobia that can lead children and teens to some extreme decisions.
What It Means to Be Afraid of Growing
A boy in Mexico began feeling afraid of growing up when he turned 11. He was so scared that his body would grow that he deprived himself of the foods he needed. It was a decision that would cause him to lose over 25 pounds.
At the same time, he would distort his voice, so it would seem like he was younger than he really was. This boy would even stoop over to make it seem like he was shorter than he happened to be.
This boy’s fear got to the point where he considered having voluntary surgery performed to have his body growth permanently restricted.
It is an extreme example of gerascophobia, which is the literal fear of becoming an adult.
What Causes People to Be Afraid of Growing Up?
Adults have a lot of responsibilities that most children do not have. Just that fact alone can be enough to trigger a phobia.
In many cases, however, the fear of growing up is caused by multiple environmental factors. A mother may treat their child like a baby. Younger siblings in a home may receive more attention than the child in question. Teasing about height or body development could enhance these feelings.
Body changes can also be scary. Going through puberty is a life-altering experience. There is fear and anxiety associated with new sexual development characteristics. For some children, the response is to avoid the situation instead of adapting to it or confronting it.
Over time, the fear of growing up will eventually ease. Extreme incidents of fear can often be treated. There are times we may all want to go back to childhood, but getting older is something to treasure, not fear.