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Erik Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development

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Erik Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development

Because Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development provided new insights into the formation of a healthy personality, it also emphasized the social and emotional aspects of growth (Herr, 2008).

Erikson's theory includes eight stages and four of the eight stages pertain to early childhood. At each stage, a social conflict crisis occurs. He believed that each stage must be resolved before children ascend to the next stage (Herr, 2008). The four stages of Erikson's theory that occurs during early childhood are:

Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust:

This stage occurs from birth to eighteen months of life. For a child to develop trust they must have warm, consistent, predictable and attentive care and they also need caregivers who will accurately read and respond to their signals.

During this stage, the child is also going to need loving, physical contact, nourishment, cleanliness and warmth.

According to Douville-Watson, Watson & Wilson (2003), when infants are required to wait too long for comfort, or they handled harshly and intensively, they develop basic mistrust of themselves and others.

Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt:

This stage occurs between eighteen to three years of age.

At this stage, toddlers are beginning to use their new motor and mental skills, wanting to become more independent and doing things for themselves. If children are overly restricted when asserting their independence, they will develop feelings of shame and doubts about their individuality (Trawick-Smith, 2006).

Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt:

Between three and five years of age, this stage occurs and children must feel free to create, express themselves creatively and to take risks.

When caregivers demand too much self-control or responsibilities that are age-inappropriate, children respond by feeling over controlled, guilt or both.

Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority:

Between the ages of six and twelve is where this stage occurs and children enjoy planning and carrying out projects (Herr, 2008).

Children will gain approval by developing intellectual skills such as s reading, writing and math.

According to Rathus (2011), early experiences affect future development and with parental support, most children resolve early life crises productively. Erikson also proposed that social relationships and physical maturation gives each stage its character. I believe that Erikson's theory can be used by parents and preschool teachers to better understand children's behaviors and foster healthy psychosocial



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