Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 11 (Proverbs 20:11)

Even a child is known by his doings - That is, in general terms, the effect shows the nature of the cause. "A childe is known by his conversation," says Coverdale. A child is easily detected when he has done evil; he immediately begins to excuse and vindicate himself, and profess his innocence, almost before accusation takes place. Some think the words should be understood, every child will dissemble; this amounts nearly to the meaning given above, But probably the principal this intended by the wise man is, that we may easily learn from the child what the man will be. In general, they give indications of those trades and callings for which they are adapted by nature. And, on the whole, we cannot go by a surer guide in preparing our children for future life, than by observing their early propensities. The future engineer is seen in the little handicraftsman of two years old. Many children are crossed in these early propensities to a particular calling, to their great prejudice, and the loss of their parents, as they seldom settle at, or succeed in, the business to which they are tied, and to which nature has given them no tendency. These infantine predilections to particular callings, we should consider as indications of Divine Providence, and its calling of them to that work for which they are peculiarly fitted.

- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible