Erikson and Kohlberg Life Stages

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Introduction

Erikson’s Developmental Stages and My Life
Erikson’s first stage of development is that of infancy which focuses on the child’s first 18 months of life. During this time a child is supposed to develop optimism, trust, confidence, and security. These key elements are developed through the love and care of a parent or primary care giver. If these elements are not nurtured then a child is more likely to develop mistrust, insecurities, and the feeling of worthlessness (Erikson 1968). During this stage of my own life, I can say that I received a great deal of love and nurturing from both of my parents. Of course I do not remember this stage in my life, but I have often heard stories about my early years. I was told that I was the apple of my father’s eye. There was nothing that I wanted or needed that he did not try to supply. I was told how he wanted another child even when my mother was adamant that she was done. They already had two children, a girl and a boy, and she did not want any more. The way the story is told, my father used a little persistence and a little alcohol on their anniversary and he got his way. Nine months later I was born and he could not have been happier. Erickson’s second stage of development is the toddler/early childhood years ages 18 months to 3 years. This stage looks at autonomy vs. shame-will. During this stage a child learns the differences between right and wrong (1968). Children at this stage test all boundaries and begin show acts of defiance. Erickson also point out that it is during this time that a child can be subjected to the feelings of shame or low self-esteem. At this stage of my life I was told that I was a very amicable child. There was little reason for me to act out or throw temper tantrums because I pretty much had everything that I wanted. I had two siblings who were five and six years older and they catered to me. I was told that my older sister treated me like her own little baby doll for much of my infancy and toddler years. She doted on me and would often get upset with my mother if she didn’t allow her to take care of the “baby”. I was allowed to explore and grow in a nice relaxed environment. Erikson’s next stage of life, the preschooler stage, focuses on the age of three years to five. Erikson called this the psychological period, during which the child attempts to resolve the conflict of initiative versus guilt by gaining independence (Crandell, et al, 2012). According to Erikson, a child is experiencing initiative when then they try to help their parents do gender specified chores and the parents give them the supervision and the room to explore. But if the child attempts are throttled and they are told that they are not old enough or too little for the task, then this can cause the child to experience a sense of quilt, disappointment, or inhibition (Crandell, et al, 2012). During this stage in my life I can remember sitting and watching my mother as she cooked dinner and sometimes meals for special occasions. My mother was a very stern person and she did not tolerate children being in her way. I knew that if I wanted to remain in the kitchen, then I had to be very quiet. This was different when I visited my paternal grandmother. When my grandmother was in the kitchen, she encouraged me and my older sister to come in and she gave us small tasks to complete. She allowed me to crack the eggs when she was making the cake and my sister was allowed to sift the flower. If we did everything that we were told without getting into trouble, then we were rewarded with a little chocolate left over from the cake frosting. Even today, chocolate frosting is my favorite treat. During this stage, immediate family plays a very significant role in the life of a child.

The next stage in Erikson’s theory of development is stage four, the school age child. This stage covers the age of six until twelve. During this stage, often called...
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