Autonomy in the Tween and Teen Years – Explained


It has been observed that a child expresses a desire to autonomous at two stages of his life – when he is a toddler and when he enters his years of adolescence. In this article we are going to talk about what autonomy seems like from the tween to the teen years, and how this is in fact a healthy stage which most parents would fear.

It is quite important for a child to learn to be autonomous at the right stages in life so that they go on to lead successful autonomous and individual lives.  

What is Autonomy

Autonomy is behaving and thinking independently of others. People who are autonomous are not those to be controlled by other people or forces. They are more self governing if one may say so and children gradually develop this characteristic over the years.

A toddler is always on her toes moving around, trying to discover new things on her own. This is when they develop autonomy in their tween years and begin to do things on their own. Activities like figuring out how to use the potty, feed themselves, talk, walk, and run help two year olds develop autonomy. This is the time when you start hearing the big “no” that becomes very commonly used word. That’s when you know they are going to fight for their independence.

Yes we know, it is hard to watch your child grow out of the peaceful infant stage. Projecting their hopes and dreams onto their toddlers becomes a bit of a task for parents, since the former are busy trying to develop their own personas. The catapult of tantrums isn’t of much help to the cause.

What Does Autonomy Look Like in Tweens and Teens

There is a calm between two storms and the next storm we are talking about is the storm of autonomy and it comes during the tween and teen years. This is when children want to become autonomous but are also held back to their childhood by their longings and boundaries set by parents.

It may be difficult for parents to watch their child become a toddler but they also have to come to terms with the fact that their adolescent children are in their final stage of their childhood. Here we know that when adolescent is fighting for autonomy it is only because she will be an adult soon and her life will be in her hands and not her parents’.

There are a lot of ways in which a tween or a teen may demonstrate their autonomy, either by questioning the rules their parents set for them or by breaking them. You can also expect them to show interest in the kind of clothes they would like to wear, music they would like to listen to or even certain political and social beliefs they might have. Getting their own driver’s license is one part of being autonomous that every adolescent looks forward to. While we are talking achievements let’s not forget school dances marking your children coming of age!

Adolescents in the Later Stages and Autonomy

Teens with age are known to look forward to being able to vote or legally drink or even gamble. However the age at which your child may become fully autonomous may vary.

One 22 year old in some part of the world of the work may be married with a graduate degree and is the sole bread winner for the family on the contrary there may be another 22 year old who has never seen the face of a serious relationship and still lives with his parents while still in college.

At the end of the day a young adult ought to achieve autonomy as soon as possible, this will give them confidence in themselves that they are capable of fending for themselves without any assistance from their parents. Another circumstance where a young adult would seek autonomy would be if he has been under foster care or in unfavourable family conditions. All in all asking for autonomy is a good omen of your offspring being able to take care of themselves in the harsh world out there.