Autonomy means being self-determined, self-governed, and independent. It refers to the characteristics of being one’s own person and existing and acting separately from others. An autonomous person makes choices and decisions and is able to speak for himself or herself. The opposite of autonomy is heteronomy, which means being governed by someone else. Autonomy does not mean complete freedom to do everything a person might want to do. Instead, it refers to the ability to be able to do things and make decisions that take into account the well-being of all concerned, including the well-being of one’s self and the well-being of others. This entry provides information about the development of autonomy during early childhood and gives several theoretical perspectives on the topic. Examples of ...

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