Erickson’s Eight Stages of Social-Emotional Development
This paper will present an overview of the developmental tasks involved in the social and emotional development of children and teenagers which continues into adulthood. The presentation is based on the Eight Stages of Development developed by psychiatrist, Erik Erikson in 1956. According to Erickson, humans move through eight stages of psychosocial development during our lives. Each stage centers around a specific crisis or conflict between competing tendencies.
Erikson's theory consists of eight stages of development. Each stage is characterized by a different conflict that must be resolved by the individual. When the environment makes new demands on people, the conflicts arise. "The person is faced with a choice between two ways of coping with each crisis, an adaptive or maladaptive way. Only when each crisis is resolved, which involves change in the personality; does the person have sufficient strength to deal with the next stages of development"(Schultz and Schultz, 1987). If a person is unable to resolve a conflict at a particular stage, they will confront and struggle with it later in life. Learning Basic Trust Versus Basic Mistrust (Hope)
Chronologically, this is the period of infancy through the first one or two years of life. The child, well - handled, nurtured, and loved, develops trust and security and a basic optimism (Stevens, 1983). Badly handled, a child becomes insecure and mistrustful. Learning Autonomy Versus Shame (Will)
The second psychosocial crisis, Erikson believes, occurs during early childhood, probably between about 18 months or 2 years and 3½ to 4 years of age. According to Erikson, self control and self confidence begin to develop at this stage (Stevens, 1983). Children can do more on their own. Toilet training is the most important event at this stage. They also begin to feed and dress themselves. This is how the toddler strives for autonomy. It is essential for parents not to be overprotective at this stage (Stevens, 1983). A parent's level of protectiveness will influence the child's ability to achieve autonomy. If a parent is not reinforcing, the child will feel shameful and will learn to doubt his or her abilities. "Erikson believes that children who experience too much doubt at this stage will lack confidence in their powers later in life"(Woolfolk, 1987). Learning Initiative Versus Guilt (Purpose)
Erikson believes that this third psychosocial crisis occurs during what he calls the "play age," or the later preschool years (from about 3½ to, in the United States culture, entry into formal school). The development of courage and independence are what set preschoolers, ages three to six years of age, apart from other age groups. Young children in this category face the challenge of initiative versus guilt. As described in Bee and Boyd (2004), the child during this stage faces the complexities of planning and developing a sense of judgment. During this stage, the child learns to take initiative and prepare for leadership and goal achievement roles. Activities sought out by a child in this stage may include risk-taking behaviors, such as crossing a street alone or riding a bike without a helmet; both these examples involve self-limits. These behaviors are a result of the child developing a sense of frustration for not being able to achieve a goal as planned and may engage in behaviors that seem aggressive, ruthless, and overly assertive to parents (Marcia, 1966). Aggressive behaviors, such as throwing objects, hitting, or yelling, are examples of observable behaviors during this stage. Industry Versus Inferiority (Competence)
Erikson believes that the fourth psychosocial crisis is handled, for better or worse, during what he calls the "school age," most likely up to and possibly including some of junior high school (Erickson, 1950). "Children at this age are becoming more aware of...
References: Bee, Helen and Boyd, Denise. (2004). The Developing Child. (10th ed.). Boston: Pearson
Erikson, E., (1956), The Problem of Ego Identity, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 4
Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2004). Human development: A life-span view. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Schultz D.P. & Schultz S.E. (1987). A History of Modern Psychology. Orlando, FL: Harcourt-Brace.
Wright, J. Eugene (1982). Erikson: Identity & Religion. New York; The Seabury Press
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