How To Stop Being a Manchild

Some people avoid the responsibility of becoming a grown-up man and consequently remain a man-child.

These people seem to refuse to grow up. You might even know them personally—it could be a friend, a co-worker, or even yourself.

Here’s how to stop being a “man-child,” according to experts.


Robert Magill

Certified Telebehavioral Health Practitioner, Magill Counseling

Take ownership of your life

The first step is to take ownership for your life. Every problem you are facing, everything in your life you don’t like, you had a role in getting for yourself. I know. It’s not easy to hear. But there is great hope in this.

You see, if you had a role in what you don’t like in your life, then you can also have a role in improving everything you don’t like in your life. Take a long, honest look at yourself. What do you do well? Keep doing it! What can you do better? Develop a plan and do better!

Also, when you run into failures, take ownership of what you could do better, learn from it, and then do better! Learning from failure is a powerful way to find success!

Be Intentional with Change – plan it out

The next thing that is helpful is to plan out how to change your life. The process I often use with clients looks like this:

Imagine, not what you think life will be like, but in an ideal, perfect world, what do you want life to be like 5 years from now. Make it emotional. So you want a bunch of money? So what. No, seriously. So what? Why? Is it so you don’t have financial stress and you can help others in need? Great! Do you want to build a legacy for yourself? Great! Make it emotional

Now, you know where you are at. Come up with a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Limited) for each of the 4 areas listed below.

Make the goal for 3 months from now (there are reasons for this time frame, but that goes beyond the topic). Think through it this way: if I pushed myself, what would things look like for me? Make sure there is a number in there some where, and it is probably a good smart goal.

Focus on these four areas:

  • Spiritual/Emotional/Mental
  • Relationships
  • Physical Health
  • Finances

Now, develop 1 thing you can do each day in each of the 4 areas that, after 90 days, will help you reach your goal.

Be accountable

I don’t necessarily mean to have someone to call every day. But if you need that, do it!

Make sure you track your progress every day for your goals from above. If you need help, reach out and get it! It’s not a unique weakness if you need help. We all need help from time to time. Even special forces call for air support when needed… it’s ok to ask for help.

Remember point 1 -take ownership. If the goals aren’t working, revisit them.

Embrace difficult things

This may be the hardest one. Do something difficult each day because it is difficult. Doing so teaches you to not shy away from something because it is a challenge Instead, embrace it as a way to improve yourself as a man! Over time, what seems like it is impossibly difficult will eventually seem like just another challenge!

Take one moment at a time

Change can be very difficult. And there will be setbacks. Don’t beat yourself up over these failures. Learn from them. Take ownership, and get help with accountability if you need it! Adjust your plan and keep going!

If you fall off your plan, don’t panic! Just immediately – not tomorrow, now – get back on your plan. And you will see progress!

Following this process, one day you will wake up and realize that you are feeling much better, relationships are awesome, your health is better than you thought it could be, finances are incredible, and life isn’t so difficult – even if you are facing more challenges each day.

Dr. Cali Estes, Ph.D., MCAP, MAC, ICADC

Cali Estes

Psychologist | Cognitive Behavioral Therapist | Founder, The Addictions Coach

You heard of the SheShed and the ManCave, but have you dealt with the ManChild? The Manchild is a full groan, real adult (but only by age) that still has full tantrums like a 5-year-old.

They generally don’t have a job, need a lot of material things to feel good about themselves, and find bathroom humor funny. Generally, they never really had to have a responsibility and expect others to do for them as their parents have consistently done.

My husband’s baby brother is a Manchild at 45 years old. His mother pays his mortgage, gave him her car, pays his credit card, and even gives money right out of her account so he can go to dinner and get drinks. His wife has never worked and they think this lifestyle is perfectly OK, as the mother allows it.

When they come for holiday, he will lift his shirt up and yell “get in my belly” and act like different characters on comedy shows. Everyone laughs. He spends more time making funny memes and videos than actually looking for a job.

Shut off the monetary means

Well, you are going to have to parent. If the funding source (wife, mother or partner) does not stop allowing the behavior it will simply never end. You will need to get your diapers ready because it will be years of this behavior.

If the monetary means are shut off, the manchild will have a full meltdown like a 5-year-old in Target when they are told they can not have the bigwheel and fling themselves on the floor in full tantrum display. Be prepared. it has to be done because they will not man-up on their own.

Boundaries must be set and expectations must be discussed along with holding them accountable

The reason my husband’s brother is still allowed at 45 years old to have mommy pay ALL his bills (and his wife’s too) is that she refuses to set a boundary. If she set a boundary and only gave him a small amount, he would be forced to adult. Find work, pay his mortgage, and his own grocery bills.

Accountability must be followed through. When the tantrum starts, simply say ‘I love you, but this is no longer tolerated” and hang up or walk away. It will take time but the manchild will learn that the behavior is no longer an option. If their bank account is in the negative stop bailing them out. That goes with accountability.

Andrea Paul

Andrea Paul

Medical Doctor | Founder & CEO, Health Media Experts

Take responsibility

The first step to stop being a manchild is to start taking responsibility for your actions. If you’ve done something wrong, learn to accept your mistakes and deal with the following consequences. Moreover, try to figure out how you can fix things rather than dwelling on a guilt trip.

I have personally come across many cases in which men are not accepting of their mistakes. They feel belittled if they have to apologize or admit where they’ve gone wrong. However, this is not how an adult should behave.

If you have caused some trouble, be open to what others have to say and respect their feelings. Accept criticism and feedback. Things like this only help you to become a better person and with time you would see improvement in your behavior. Not being open to others’ opinions can cause a halt in a person’s growth, which needs to be avoided at all costs.

Accept who you are

You need to realize that you have grown up now and that certain responsibilities come with age – accept them. If you lack motivation, then find the things you truly like to do and build a career. Doing things that you truly love and define you can help build a better life.

Related: How to Love and Accept Yourself as You Are

If you try to impersonate another person, there are chances you might not succeed. I don’t recommend keeping oneself in a delusion of being someone you are not.

Yes, it is always healthy to learn from others and adapt the good things from them. However, don’t try to be exactly like them. Keep an element of yourself alive, consider moving ahead with things you enjoy and who you are.

William Taylor

William Taylor

Career Development Manager, VelvetJobs

Learn how to be empathetic towards those around you, and stop feeling and acting entitled

I have dealt with a number of men-children in my time, both personally and professionally. My advice to them on how to stop being a manchild is to, first, learn how to be empathetic, and secondly, learn how to stop feeling entitled.

The world does not revolve around you, and it is crucial to your social survival to learn how to care for the wellbeing of others. Also, work towards your own success.

Stop thinking you are a gift to humankind, and that the rest of us owe you for simply existing.

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

Founder, Sawinery

It pays to spot where the problem comes from in order for you to stop it

It’s like clogged kitchen drainage. You won’t leave and let it just sink, or clean it continuously. Finding and removing where the clog comes from will solve the problem. For manchildren, they are habitually dependent and always in the light of comfort since that is how they used to be.

To give a specific example, too much dependence on their parents especially in the financial and decision-making aspect when they are actually at the right age of taking full responsibility for themselves. Being aware of this issue “must come first to senses”.

The realization of oneself leads to changing the situation. There’s no one better who can impose or influence change in your mind, but yourself.

Of course, it won’t happen in one night. It’s a gradual process that should start right now. Decisiveness is a great and effective kickstarter. Making up your mind right away, even in the tiniest decision-making like choosing where and what to eat, what to wear, or which purchase is wise and will last for good.

All of these small resolutions combined together will help to train your mind to have firm and quick responses to any situation, may it be a small or big turning point of life.

This way, you’re also blocking one symptom of man childless that taps other unconscious traits of immaturity and that is blaming others for what is happening to you.

When you start pointing fingers at another person, it will simply foster feelings of victimhood thus helplessness and powerlessness. And that is so manchild! But, if you are in charge of all your life’s resolve, you will not have anyone to condemn but yourself. And this is the best practice you can do to man up!

James Pearson

James Pearson

CEO and Small Business Evangelist, eVenturing Enterprises

Practice giving small things that you want

One red flag that shows you are a manchild is when you are always thinking that the world revolves around you.

You always think of how good you look, your comfort and your needs should be met first before anyone else. You are teeming with selfishness and entitlement which can be very intolerable for some people.

Getting over this behavior can be tough, yet little by little you can start with small habits that can change you and your life. You can kick it off by giving small things that you want to others. It may be your favorite dessert, a parking space, your seat, or even a compliment. For others, these are basic manners but for others, these are very hard to give especially when you are an overly nurtured manchild.

By giving small things that you love, you are starting to cultivate a selfless habit that can grow into a selfless behavior that may help you overcome the manchild syndrome.

Related: Being Selfish vs Being Selfless, How to Find the Balance

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a manchild?

A manchild is a term used to describe an adult male who exhibits immature behavior or has failed to develop emotionally and psychologically in a way expected of his age. 

It is often used to describe individuals who are stuck in a perpetual state of adolescence, struggling to take on adult responsibilities, and acting in a manner that is not aligned with their chronological age.

What are the common characteristics of a manchild?

Emotional immaturity: A manchild often exhibits emotional immaturity, struggling to express feelings or empathize with others. They may have difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships and can be prone to emotional outbursts or tantrums.

Lack of responsibility: Manchildren often avoid taking responsibility for their actions, preferring to blame others or external circumstances. They may struggle with tasks such as managing finances, maintaining a job, or keeping a clean living space.

Dependency on others: A manchild tends to rely on others, especially parents or romantic partners, for financial support or emotional validation. They might struggle to make independent decisions or take control of their own lives.

Avoidance of commitment: Manchildren typically fear commitment, whether it’s in romantic relationships, friendships, or career choices. They might shy away from long-term goals and serious responsibilities.

Self-centeredness: A key characteristic of a manchild is their self-centered nature. They may prioritize their own needs and desires over those of others, often exhibiting a sense of entitlement or an unwillingness to compromise.

Lack of ambition or motivation: A manchild may lack drive and direction in their life, drifting from one situation to another without a clear sense of purpose or goals.

Why should I stop being a manchild?

Personal growth: Overcoming the manchild mentality is essential for personal growth and self-improvement. By taking responsibility for your actions and developing emotional maturity, you’ll be better equipped to handle life’s challenges and create a fulfilling future.

Healthy relationships: Developing emotional intelligence and empathy allows for deeper, more meaningful connections with others. As you learn to understand and support those around you, you’ll build stronger relationships and a more enriching social life.

Independence: Embracing personal responsibility and learning to rely on yourself will give you a sense of independence and self-sufficiency. This will not only help you feel more secure in your own life but will also make you a more attractive partner and friend.

Career advancement: Employers value individuals who demonstrate responsibility, commitment, and the ability to work well with others. By shedding the manchild mindset, you’ll be better positioned for success in your chosen field and will likely see more opportunities come your way.

Self-esteem and confidence: Overcoming the manchild mentality can lead to increased self-esteem and confidence. As you take charge of your life and embrace your responsibilities, you’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment and pride in your achievements.

What causes being a manchild?

Being a manchild is a term often used to describe an adult male who behaves in an immature or childish manner. There are several factors that can contribute to this behavior:

Upbringing: A person’s upbringing can significantly affect their emotional development. Overprotective or overly permissive parenting may result in a lack of boundaries and an inability to take responsibility for one’s actions.

Lack of emotional maturity: Emotional maturity is the ability to handle emotions effectively and make responsible decisions. A manchild might lack emotional maturity due to underdeveloped coping mechanisms or a lack of understanding of their emotions.

Social conditioning: Societal expectations and stereotypes may influence an individual’s behavior. Traditional gender roles may inadvertently encourage manchild behavior by promoting the idea that men should not express their emotions or need emotional support.

Fear of commitment and responsibility: Some individuals might struggle with commitment and responsibility, often avoiding adult responsibilities as a way to maintain their freedom and independence.

How long does it take to stop being a manchild?

The process of overcoming manchild behavior is different for everyone, as it depends on the individual’s willingness to change and the level of support available to them. Significant progress can be made in a matter of months with consistent effort and dedication. 

However, it’s important to remember that personal growth is an ongoing journey that may require continuous self-reflection and adjustments.

Can therapy help in overcoming manchild behaviors?

Yes, therapy can be highly beneficial in overcoming manchild behaviors. Seeking professional help can provide a safe space to explore the underlying causes of these behaviors and develop strategies for personal growth.

Self-awareness: Therapy can help individuals gain self-awareness and recognize the patterns of behavior that contribute to their manchild tendencies. This understanding is a crucial first step in making positive changes.

Emotional intelligence: A therapist can teach essential emotional intelligence skills, such as understanding and managing emotions, empathizing with others, and effective communication. These skills can help an individual navigate adult life more successfully and form healthier relationships.

Building resilience: Therapy can also help build resilience and coping skills, enabling individuals to face challenges head-on and overcome the fear of failure. This can lead to a more proactive approach to life, fostering personal growth and development.

Addressing underlying issues: In some cases, manchild behaviors may be a symptom of deeper issues, such as anxiety, depression, or past trauma. A therapist can help identify and address these underlying problems, providing a more comprehensive path to healing and growth.

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