Saturday, 7 May 2016

Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Child Development

Initiative vs guilt - children often seek to assert themselves.
Erik Erikson (1902 -1994) was born in Germany. He developed the stages of personality development which he called the psychosocial stages of development.

According to Erikson, people pass through eight sequential stages, through the process of socialization. Erikson emphasized the interaction of a child with his environment, so culture and the society are intertwined with the development of the child.

This post outlines the first five stages of Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development from birth to adolescence. Each stage is characterized by psychosocial crisis. The child needs to reconcile the crisis to emerge from the stage with desired outcome such as hope, purpose and competence.

Trust versus mistrust (infancy: 0 – 1 year). At this stage parental interaction with the child is critical. As the child receives care, love and affection, he develops a sense of trust. This leads to hope which is the desired outcome of this crisis. However, if the parents fail to provide a warm and nurturing environment for the child, it could lead to mistrust.

Autonomy versus shame and doubt (Toddlerhood: 1 – 3 years). In this second stage, the child develops motor skills and begins to explore his environment. He looks for opportunities for independence. If he is given the opportunity to explore the world around him, he becomes more confident and secure in his ability. Contrastingly, if the child is not given opportunities to assert himself, he could feel inadequate and doubt his abilities.

Initiative versus guilt (Early Childhood: 3 – 5 years). Here the child has more developed motor skills. He is learning to master the world around him through exploration and discovery of things in his environment. If the child is given opportunities to develop a sense of initiative, then he will feel secure in his ability make decisions. However, discouraging the child’s independent activities could lead to a sense of guilt.

Industry versus inferiority (School-Age: 5 – 12 years). At this stage the child is eager to learn and accomplish more complex tasks. He desires to manipulate objects, for example, he learns to make things and use tools. If he gets the encouragement of his parents, this builds his confident leading to competence which is the desired outcome of the crisis. In contrast, if the child is restricted he could begin to feel inferior.

Identity versus role confusion (Adolescence: 12 – 18 years). This is the stage of transition from childhood to adulthood. The task is to develop a sense of identity, that is, an integrated self that is distinct from others. When the adolescent successfully answers the question, “Who am I?” this leads to a strong sense of identity. However, failure to achieve an accurate sense of personal identity could to role confusion. He is not sure of himself and his role in society.

The video above, outlines Erikson's theory and links the stages to healthy parenting and relationships. If you are a parent, it would be beneficial to have a good understanding of Erikson's stages of child development. You can find further information on Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Development at Simply Psychology.

Image courtesy of  nenetus at

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