Peter Pan is a character portrayed by J M Barrie in his novel where a boy is reluctant to grow into maturity. Modeled on traits of the storybook boy, a person having Peter Pan syndrome doesn’t want to grow mentally. Irrespective of biological age he/she prefers acting like a child, shuns responsibilities, and is unwilling to face the real world.
It is an adult body trapped inside the mind of a child. Though not classified as a case of mental disorder, a person suffering from childish behavior finds it very difficult to tread along life. He is a lonely soul and could be identified as an odd man out in a social gathering.
The patient may be from both the genders – though males are more in number. Mostly, the stigma of immaturity and associated social isolation is caused by overprotective parenting. But there is sunrise at the end of the road. Overcoming Peter Pan syndrome is possible with psychological counseling and other modes of treatments.
Symptoms of Peter Pan syndrome:
- Exhibits of fury and emotional flare-ups on one extreme end and surprising indifference on the other.
- Bliss converting into hysteric outbursts of fright in a short time.
- Exasperation boiling down to self-compassion and mind sunk in a state of melancholy.
- Patients with a mind of child find it hard articulating feelings of affection.
- A sense of remorse is always at the back of their minds.
- A state of mental unrest becomes apparent.
- A person with Peter Pan syndrome will fail you invariably if you happen to entrust him with a task.
- Though childlike, innocence is lacking. They try to play cunning when it comes to discharging responsibility and come up with excuses for not having done a work.
7 tips for overcoming Peter Pan Syndrome:
Overcoming Peter Pan syndrome doesn’t come along well defined and structured psychological treatment as it is not acknowledged as one. Let us start with a few basic steps and proceed to other treatment modes.
Guiding them to the right track:
The main problem with the ones suffering from the syndrome is that they are never self-starters or self-enabled. They always expect somebody to help in every small thing in life. You need to stop the enabling act. Despite having a mind of a child, instill adult concepts forcibly into the sufferer. Make him apply for a job or an assignment. Remove all external distractions – especially the social media – else the person will remain engrossed in it instead of taking responsibilities.
The healing sound of silence:
Here the patients are debarred from access to television, computer, internet, alcohol and narcotics. The idea is to shut out the world of virtual addictions and concentrate on real-time issues so that problem-solving capacity is enhanced.
The 12-Step philosophy:
In this therapy, overcoming Peter Pan syndrome comes with giving the patients an experience of outdoor adventure in wilderness exploration. Camping and hiking expeditions come in 4 rounds. Here the participants share their experience and how they had dealt with obstacles on their way.
This way, they are put in the tough world of struggle for survival and the way they battle it out of a difficult situation. Here nothing comes from a fancy of make-believe world. You have to face the realities and fight. The therapy includes onsite meeting in camps. Patients are made aware of available resources and the consequences of every move they make.
The journey into adulthood:
This is a wake-up bell for the entire family where the member affected by the syndrome takes on responsibilities gradually after being trained in wilderness therapy. They are made conscious that their attitude had been wrong. They are not a special breed neither an isolated species. They have to face challenges of life and take on responsibilities.
Disallowing from Peter Pan syndrome showing its face:
Since the issue is sowed in the formative years of a child for wrong parenting, a child should be raised with utmost care. Self-confidence, esteem, drive, and focus play a significant role over here. These, with the backing of education, go a long way in building character in the child. They help him grow into responsible and productive adults. They should have a strong rapport with the right companions and peers who themselves believe in hard work and fruit of labor.
Other valuable self-help tips to help in overcoming Peter Pan syndrome:
If you can self-identify the problems of Peter Pan syndrome, the following tips can be handy:
- Frame a plan for future and select a career of your choice. Strive hard to excel in that domain.
- Identify what you like most and concentrate your struggle around it with creative zeal. Try to work out a goal congruency between bliss and material achievement.
- Take responsibilities. Figure where you are and where you want to go. In this journey, array of responsibilities would come your way to be discharged.
- Work hard. Without that, you cannot get far in life. Nothing is made for you as your birthright. You have to earn it with hard work.
- The world is not always fair. Your struggle may go futile. Don’t start a hue and cry. Prepare for a repeat battle, this is maturity.
- Elucidation to acquire adult skills is important. Draw up your monthly expense budget and stick to it. Do your laundry. Organize events like a domestic ceremony, fixing an appointment with a doctor, marketing groceries and supplies, haggling for prices, cooking at kitchen, paying utility bills are important bits of life. They help you become mentally adult and bring out the decision maker in you.
Guidelines for parents:
Overcoming Peter Pan syndrome demands its own efforts. Parents are advised proper parenting so that the syndrome doesn’t raise its head.
- Don’t treat your child like a kid even when he has grown up.
- Never give him whatever he wants – you will spoil him. The initial tantrum will wane if you be firm on your ground. The child will start to realize his mistake.
- Don’t allow immature or wobbly behavior from your child. Make it a point you will listen to him once he turns rational and calm.
- Be cautious if you find your kid acting like a child often, which is not normal.
- Encourage your kids to participate in group activities and take leadership.
- If possible, choose residential schools that will help kids to be self-reliant.
Overcoming Peter Pan syndrome should not be a big issue provided the symptoms are noticed early. Since this is not a recognized mental disorder, very few take cognizance of this fact. Nobody wants to grow up, but everybody has to. It is the normal way of life. Parents must realize that handholding practice cannot be there forever and kids must learn to live their own.
Children must also stop looking up to their parents for small things. They should grow up by taking responsibilities one by one. They should learn the art of giving and helping instead of seeking refuge and help for each and every necessity of life.