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Stages of Development Paper: The Butler

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Stages of Development Paper: The Butler

Walsh University

Amanda Bamberger

Middle Childhood

        During my beginning years of grade school, I experienced a variety of changes that align with Erik Erikson’s theory of development under the industry versus inferiority stage (Berk, 2014). I can recall excelling in academics from 1st grade onwards through my education up to the present day. During this period between the ages of six through eleven, my parents stressed the importance of education in order to succeed. In school, I was able to learn new material from reading, writing, math, science and history at a very rapid pace. Although I went to a small school, I was usually second or third in my class academically speaking and I remember having a sense of competitiveness and accomplishment when we received our report cards. In the third grade, I remember when we were joined by a new student who already knew the multiplication tables before anyone else in the class. This event was a major influence on me because I remember talking about this with my parents and feeling inferior for not knowing the multiplication tables. I was able to challenge myself and studied them relentlessly for a week or two until I had mastered them to the level the new student knew them. I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I had memorized them and used this shared knowledge to form a friendship with the new student.

        Throughout grade school, I was able to form and maintain many friendships that I still have to this day. I was always a very social child and was able to make friends easily through common interests usually in academics or sports. At this age, I took pride in my athletic abilities as well as my academic achievements. From age 4 onwards, I have played soccer and identify that sport as something I play very well. Both my mother and father encouraged me to participate in sports and my father was a coach in grade school. I remember in 5th and 6th grade playing basketball for my school and our team playing poorly throughout the season. Up to this point, I had always done well in soccer and had usually won championships with my friends in every league that we had played in. Our inability to play basketball well against other larger schools was concerning for me as my athletic abilities were a major part of my self-concept at the time. I noticed that my peers seemed to be struggling with our string of losses as well. After that season, we focused more on soccer and used the down time in the fall to use basketball as more of a conditioning activity.

        Another major life event that I remember from this period was when my brother was born when I was seven years old. At this time, my family dynamic shifted in that my father stayed home to raise him and my mother was the primary breadwinner for the first two years after my brother was born. This shift was important for me looking back because it allowed me to see that traditional gender roles were flexible. During this period however, I do remember my family struggling financially. I was always raised to have fun with what I had and that you had to work for everything you wanted in life. During this time, I remember resenting my brother somewhat because I was not able to continue having the same options of going places such as playgrounds or parks and having my parents’ undivided attention. We also stopped going to restaurants at this time due to the financial strain of my parents changing caretaker roles. I don’t believe that this is something that I would have sought counseling for nor would have benefitted from counseling interventions. I do think however that by experiencing this “poverty” and learning how to use and have fun with the resources we had was crucial to my emotional development and demeanor.

        In relation to Erikson’s theory, my emotional development was shaped during this period between ages six through eleven greatly in part of the new dynamic in the family with the addition of my brother (Berk, 2014). Although it was initially very difficult for me to adjust to the change from being an only child, I was able to develop emotionally and learn how to manage the new dynamic. During the first few years after my brother was born, I remember feeling a stronger desire to achieve in academics and sports. I was supported and encouraged by my parents but they did not focus on me completely. During this stage, I think that I developed emotional self-regulation more easily than my peers because I had such a “major” life event during this transitional period that served as a catalyst. By age eleven, given my early experiences with positive peer relationships, academic and athletic success and development of healthy emotional coping skills, I would say that I leaned more towards the industry side of the spectrum.

Adolescence

        During my adolescence I had quite a few major life events and influential people that helped shape me into the person I am today. According to Erikson’s theory, during this stage of identity versus role confusion I would say I find myself identifying more towards the identity end of the spectrum during my adolescence. Building off of my athletic achievements of middle childhood, I continued to play soccer in leagues throughout the year with my friends. This socialization with members of my soccer team helped to form my self-concept during my transition into high school. I was able to interact with people outside of my “normal” group of friends by playing in the various soccer leagues and I met individuals who I would later be in high school classes with. During my eighth grade year in grade school, I was in an advanced math class at my future high school and I noticed that two of the individuals I played soccer with were also in the advanced math class. Over the course of that year, I would form a stronger friendship with one of them and still remain close friends to this day. Having the athletic and academic environments to form this bond attributed to my socialization and strengthened my self-concept of being “smart” and “athletic” (Berk, 2014).

        When I began high school at age 14, I felt more confident than my friends from grade school who were entering the school with me as I had already attended my high school for the advanced math class. I feel that my self-esteem was very high at this point as I had a full year to interact with the faculty and students and “find my place” before my friends did. Those of us that had come from my grade school into the high school joined the soccer team and began to rapidly socialize with other freshman as well as upper classmen who practiced with us. During my freshman year in high school, I was asked to start on the varsity soccer team during many of the games and then participate in the junior varsity games often as the co-captain. These experiences boosted my self-esteem and help to solidify my self-concepts. Unfortunately, during the 4th-5th week of soccer at the junior varsity game, I broke my tibia in my leg and was unable to play in the rest of the season nor over that winter indoor season. When this happened, I felt that I lost a big piece of my identity as I had always played soccer and spent a great deal of time playing sports with my friends. This “identity crisis” was significant because it forced me to spend more time on academic pursuits and associate with a different group of individuals because I had limited mobility with the full leg cast for approximately six months. Although the injury was not traumatic, this “crisis” allowed me to expand my peer groups in high school and associate with individuals that I may not have typically formed friendships with.

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