The benefits of promoting autonomy in children

Research suggests that “…children denied sufficient autonomy will struggle to gain coping skills, undermining their resilience and sense of self-efficacy.” (138)

“The recent UNICEF overview of child well-being in 21 countries found that those countries whose children enjoy comparatively high levels of everyday freedom prior to adolescence – the Netherlands and Scandinavia – showed the highest levels of subjective well-being and the best outcomes around family and peer relationships, and behaviours and risks (UNICEF, 2007)” (138)

Gill adds that “There are three potential styles of state response: laissez-faire, service-oriented and space-oriented. Each places a differing emphasis on the role of individual, state and community.

The laissez-faire response sees children’s well-being as the responsibility of their parents and families, with the state responsible for providing public services in education, health and welfare. This position is neutral in its assessment of children’s ability to have an active role in shaping their own lives. …

The service-oriented response is directly interventionist, and involves designing services that aim to improve outcomes for children. A mix of universal and targeted services is likely to be evident, the latter coming into play when children show signs of needing extra help. This position takes a pessimistic view of children’s ability to shape their lives, seeing their well-being as largely dependent upon adult support and interventions.

The space-oriented response is also interventionist, but its interventions are indirect as well as direct. Alongside services, it aims to offer children the opportunity to grow and adapt through their own experiences: at home, at school and in the wider community. This approach embraces as a policy goal the creation of child-friendly communities, and by implication aims its interventions at all children, not merely at those defined as in need or at risk. It takes an optimistic view of children’s ability to shape their lives, viewing them as able to learn through their own efforts without always needing direction or oversight (Moss and Petrie, 2002).” (138)

Ref: Tim Gill (2008) ‘Space-oriented children’s policy: creating child-friendly communities to improve children’s well-being’ Children & Society 22: 136-142

Reference is made to:Moss and Petrie  (2002) From Children’s Services to Children’s Spaces: Public Policy, Children and Childhood. Routledge Falmer, London.

UNICEF (2007) Child poverty in Perspective: an overview of child well-being in rich countries. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre: Florence


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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One Response to The benefits of promoting autonomy in children

  1. Pingback: References to support a review of Te Whariki | LiteracyNZ

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