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A study by Yamamoto et al. (1987), in which children and adults in different cultures were asked to rate the stressfulness of a number of life events for children, showed that children were more accurate and consistent in their ratings than adults. This raises the question whether children on occasion may be better judges than adults of what is in their interests. Children’s understanding of difficult issues It may be argued that, even if children’s maturity and understanding have been underestimated, some kinds of decision are too difficult for them to understand.

1987), in which children and adults in different cultures were asked to rate the stressfulness of a number of life events for children, showed that children were more accurate and consistent in their ratings than adults. This raises the question whether children on occasion may be better judges than adults of what is in their interests. Children’s understanding of difficult issues It may be argued that, even if children’s maturity and understanding have been underestimated, some kinds of decision are too difficult for them to understand.

If anything this is even more the case when we come to statements about what is desirable or what constitutes well-being. 19 Kellmer-Pringle (1974) characterised children’s needs in terms of nurture and sustenance, a sense of identity, stimulation and opportunities to explore, chances to develop autonomy, and so on. Woodhead’s analysis would suggest that many of these categories are specific to a particular culture or class, or to a professional or personal viewpoint. Nevertheless they are also categories with which many would agree.

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