In casual conversation, one is often told to "Grow up!", ie be more mature and more like an adult. What would be the most accurate phrase to express the opposite sentiment - you need to loosen up, embrace your inner child, appreciate the fun in activities usually seen as frivolous, etc?

  • "Grow down" is humorous but I'm not sure if it's correct, and it's definitely not widely used.
  • "Loosen up" works but doesn't have quite the same "child-like" connotation.
  • "Relax", "chill" and other such common words also fall in the same category, but don't express a need for childishness.
  • 2
    Is "lighten up" any better for you? For me, it's closer to fun and childishness than "loosen up".
    – Jim Simson
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 3:01
  • "Don't be such an old stick-in-the mud/fuddy-duddy" used to be a fairly common expression—but nowadays its use may be limited to sticks-in-the-mud and fuddy-duddies.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 7:39
  • How can there be an opposite to "grow up" as an interjection? I don't think there is. Who would tell someone to act like a child? Hmm? So, this question gets a big, fat zero. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 15:05
  • What about "stay young"?
    – John Z. Li
    Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 7:42

6 Answers 6


"Live a little!" would be the answer in my local dialect. That said, this is usually done not as a positive reinforcement towards childishness, but as a negative deterrence from being overly uptight/mature. i.e. "get that prick out of your bum, you're not better than everybody else" or various local variations to the effect of "stop being so uptight"


"Have some fun!" or "Live your life!" have the meaning of what you want, but don't explicitly imply an age. "Act your age" would only make sense in the right context. I specifically remember "Be a kid for once" from somewhere (maybe a TV show)that would be appropriate for this.

  • "Where is your inner child"? Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 23:55

"Let's relive your childhood" or "I see that lil kid I'm you wanting to be free and happy, let him/her out"

  • "Let's relive your childhood" suggests going over memories of a person's childhood rather than asking them to be more child-like. The second suggestion doesn't make sense as it's written. Its also implying that the person isn't free and happy which they make take as being extremely insulting. Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 23:39
  • First of all saying "let's relive your childhood" doesn't obligate you to recreate memories it can also project excitement to feel the same way you did in your childhood , be carefree and happy. Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 23:41
  • Second saying "grow up" to someone isn't respectful either and the emotions that op has describe in their question is positive either so it goes with the notion. Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 23:42
  • The point of the original question was that you want the person to lighten up. You don't get people to lighten up by insulting them. Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 23:45
  • If I say you should be happy doesn't mean you're dying out of depression you know saying be carefree and free are meant to be encouraging and motivating for the person not humiliating Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 0:18

I would say:

act like a kid again


For an obvious reason, which you have yourself identified, there is no opposite in English for 'grow up'. There are ways to express the opposite of what we mean when we use the expression, some of which would work. But they are not opposites of the particular expression. I would vote to close the question because it does not meet the criteria for ELU. Any answer is opinion based, for the above reasons.


You've already stated one:

Embrace your inner child!

Or more commonly:

Find your inner child!

You have to find it first before you can embrace it.

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