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As fellow citizens, all children need a stimulating social environment that helps them develop self-respect and social competence. Developmental research, however, shows, that many children do not or cannot fulfil the social, moral or cognitive developmental tasks which are necessary for healthy development. A lack of opportunities for gaining meaningful social experiences can be seen as a major source of psychosocial and behavioural problems in children. On the contrary, active commitment in educational environments such as the school and the neighbourhood, helps them to get an increasingly better grip on their own lives and health. Moreover, such 'children's participation' appears to have a protective and preventive effect for health-related problems. Therefore, it is argued, that 'enablement', a key-element of both the Ottawa Charter on Health Promotion and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, should be at the core of every child-health promotion programme.