Children’s Participation in Decision-making: Balancing Protection with Shared Decision-making Using a Situational Perspective

Children’s participation in decision-making in the health care setting is complex because parents and health professionals tend to take a protective stance towards children to act in their best interest. Children prefer to be protected in some situations and to share decision-making in others. Adults in the health care setting need to consider children as individuals, rather than as a homogenous group, and take into account that a child’s competence and preferences will depend on the circumstances in every situation. This article argues for a situational perspective of children’s participation to act in the child’s best interest and to balance protection with shared decision-making, according to children’s rights and desires.