Erik Erikson

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Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development
Melissa Grindstaff
ECE 332
Instructor Randall
June 6, 2011

Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development can provide parents and preschool teachers a better understanding of children’s behavior. Erikson was a follower of Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development; however, Erikson believed that less emphasis should be placed on the idea of sexual tensions as the guiding force of personality development. Erikson believed that the “social environment in which a person lives, primarily focusing on relationships with other people”, is more influential in the development of self (Witt & Mossler, 2010, Ch.2.3). The core of Erikson’s theory is that development is influenced by both environment and heredity, he called this the epigenetic principal (Witt & Mossler, 2010). Erikson believed that development occurs in eight stages and that each stage presents a psychological conflict or crisis that must be resolved. Erikson believed that the lessons learned at each stage of development build upon the failures or successes of the previous stages. As a parent and an educator an understanding of Erik Erikson’s theory can provide me with insight that will enable me to understand and positively guide the psychosocial development of young children as they encounter various psychological conflicts on their quest for self.

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development consists of eight stages of development that occur over a lifespan. The first three stages of Erikson’s theory span across the first five years of a child’s life. As a future preschool educator I will focus primarily .on the conflicts children encounter during each of these stages. The first three psychological conflicts a child encounters deals with the development of trust, autonomy, and purpose. At each stage, preschool teachers and parents can be a supporting factor in fostering the positive resolution of each conflict.

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