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Erikson's Developmental Stage Theory

 

Explanations > Learning Theory > Erikson's Developmental Stage Theory

 

Eric Erikson investigated and developed a stage theory about how children grow and develop psychosocial skills.

 

Level Name Characteristics
Stage 1 Trust vs. mistrust

(infant)

A child will only learn trust if its mother meets the child's deep need for attention and affection.
Stage 2

 

Autonomy vs. shame and doubt

(around age 3)

If the exploring child receives encouragement in a search for autonomy, the child will learn trust, otherwise they learn shame and doubt.
Stage 3 Initiative vs. guilt

(around age 4)

If the questioning child is encouraged in their ideas and games, the child will gain confidence or otherwise feel guilty about initiating things.
Stage 4 Industry vs. authority

(at school)

If encouraged and praised by teachers, the child will increase efforts to learn. If always criticized, the child will learn to feel inferior.
Stage 5 Identity vs. role confusion

(from age 12)

If the child's identity has been reinforce up to puberty, the chiild will handle it well. If not, there is a frightening identity crisis.
Stage 6 Intimacy vs. isolation

(around middle age)

Identity crises may occur later in life if people cannot or do no relate to others.

 

In order to learn, Erikson talked about giving children a 'psychosocial moratorium', where they can take risks and experiment in safety without the threat of punishment. This is a key responsibility of parents.

So what?

When working with children, take especial care to build trust and self-esteem. With dysfunctional adults (as most of us are), recognize the roots of their problems and help where you can. This means yourself too.

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