Autonomy in childhood and adolescence is when one strives to gain a sense of oneself as a separate, self-governing individual. Between ages 1–3, during the second stage of Erikson’s and Freud’s stages of development, the psychosocial crisis that occurs is autonomy versus shame and doubt. The significant event that occurs during this stage is that children must learn to be autonomous, and failure to do so may lead to the child doubting their own abilities and feel ashamed. When a child becomes autonomous it allows them to explore and acquire new skills. Autonomy has two vital aspects wherein there is an emotional component where one relies more on themselves rather than their parents and a behavioural component where one makes decisions independently by using their judgment. The styles of child rearing affect the development of a child’s autonomy. Authoritative child rearing is the most successful approach, where the parents engage in autonomy granting appropriate to their age and abilities. Autonomy in adolescence is closely related to their quest for identity. In adolescence parents and peers act as agents of influence. Peer influence in early adolescence may help the process of an adolescent to gradually become more autonomous by being less susceptible to parental or peer influence as they get older. In adolescence the most important developmental task is to develop a healthy sense of autonomy.
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