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Theory of
Psychosocial Development

Psychosocial development was articulated by Erik Erikson and it explains the eight stages of development which your child must pass through from infancy to adulthood.

Your child confronts and masters new challenges at each stage and each stage builds on the successful completion of earlier stages.

Erikson's Eight Stages of
Psychosocial Development

Psychosocial Development Stage #1: Trust versus Mistrust: Hope
Birth to 18 Months, Infants

psychosocial development stage 1
Erikson's first theory centres around your child's basic needs being met by you.

Your child depends on you, especially if you are the mother, for food and comfort.

Your child's understanding of the world come from you and your interaction with her.

If you expose your child to warmth, regularity, and dependable affection, your child's view of the world will be one of trust.

Should you fail to provide a secure environment and to meet your child's basic needs a sense of mistrust will result.

If you provide food, comfort, and affection your child will learn to trust that others are dependable and reliable.

If you neglect your child, she will learn to mistrust that the world is in an undependable, unpredictable, and possibly a dangerous place.

Psychosocial Development Stage #2: Autonomy versus Shame & Doubt: Will
18 Months - 3 Years, Toddlers

psychosocial development stage 2
As your child gains control she begins to explore her surroundings.

You should provide a strong base of security from which she can venture out to assert her will.

Your patience and encouragement helps foster independence in her.

She constantly learns about her environment and explores the world around her.

As she explores things around her that are dangerous to her, you must make sure she's out of danger from things that could be dangerous to her health and safety.

She develops her first interest at this stage e.g. if she enjoys the outdoors she may be interested in animals and plants.

As her muscular coordination and mobility increases, she becomes capable of satisfying some of her own needs by feeding herself, using the bathroom and dressing herself.

If you promote independence she will develop a sense of being able to handle many problems on her own.

On the other hand, if you refuse to let her perform tasks which she's capable, she may develop doubt and shame later on.

Psychosocial Development Stage #3: Initiative versus Guilt: Purpose
3 - 6 Years, Preschool

psychosocial development stage 3
At this stage your child is learning to master the world around her.

She learns how to count and speak effortlessly.

This stage allows her to complete her own actions for a purpose and may feel guilty over things that should not cause her to feel guilt.

When her initiative does not produce the desired results she may feel guilty.

She develops independence and courage and learns to take initiative by preparing for leadership and goal achievement roles.

She is able to accomplish tasks on her own, and can start new things.

With this growing independence comes many choices about activities to be pursued.

As a result of not achieving a goal as planned she may develop a negative behaviour and becomes aggressive such as hitting, yelling or throwing objects.

Encourage and support her efforts and help her make appropriate choices to develop planning and undertaking activities.

If you discourage her independence to undertake activities on her own, she will develop guilt about her needs.

Psychosocial Development Stage #4: Industry versus Inferiority: Competence
6 - 12 Years, Childhood

psychosocial development stage 4
Your child at this age is becoming more aware of herself as an individual.

She's now more reasonable to corporate and share with others.

She gains a better understanding of cause and effect and the concepts of space and time in a more practical way.

She learns to read and write at this stage and accomplishes even more complex skills.

She recognises individual differences and is able to manage her personal needs with less assistance.

At this stage, she might express her autonomy by being disobedient, using back talk and being rebellious.

This stage provides her many opportunities to achieve recognition from parents, teachers and peers from school work and it is critical for the development of self confidence.

She starts recognizing her special talents and continues to discover interests as her education improves.

She may begin to choose to do more activities to pursue that interest, such as joining a sport if she knows she has athletic ability.

If not allowed to discover her own talents in her own time, she will develop a sense of lack of motivation and low self esteem.

If you encourage her to undertake tasks and praise her for her efforts she will begin to demonstrate industry by being diligent, persevering at tasks until completed, and putting work before pleasure.

She will begin to develop feelings of inferiority about her capabilities if she is punished or ridiculed for her efforts of meeting your expectations and her teachers'.

Psychosocial Development Stage #5: Identity versus Role Confusion
12 to 19 Years, Adolescence

psychosocial development stage 5
As an adolescent your child is now concerned with how she looks and appears to others.

As she makes the transition from childhood to adulthood, she ponders the roles she will play in the adult world.

Initially, she is pertinent to experience some role confusion- mixed ideas and feelings about the specific ways in which she fits into society and may experiment with a variety of behaviours and activities.

As an adolescent, she is confronted by the need to re-establish boundaries for herself.

This is often challenging since commitments are being asked for before particular identity roles have formed.

At this point, she is in a state of 'identity confusion', but society normally makes allowances for her to "find herself", and this state is called 'the moratorium'.

The problem she faces now is one of role confusion. Given the right conditions what may emerge is a firm sense of identity, an emotional and deep awareness of who she is.

She has chosen her personal ideologies at this stage and this often leads to conflict of interests with family, political and religious groups.

Another area where she is deciding for herself is her career choice. Parents often want to have a say in their choice of career at this time.

If parents are unrelenting, she will give in to external wishes forcing her to forget experimenting and self-discovery.

Psychosocial Development Stage #6: Intimacy versus Isolation: Love
20 to 40 Years, Young Adults

psychosocial development stage 6
At this stage young adults are still eager to blend their identities with friends.

She wants to fit in and is afraid of rejections such as being turned down or her partner breaking up with her.

She is familiar with pain and rejection is painful; her egos cannot bear the pain.

Once she has established her identity, she is ready to make long-term commitments to others.

She becomes capable of forming intimate, reciprocal relationships e.g. through close friendships or marriage... and willingly make sacrifices and compromises that such relationships require.

If she cannot form these intimate relationships a sense of isolation may result.

Psychosocial Development Stage #7: Generativity versus Stagnation: Care
40 to 65 Years, Middle Adulthood

psychosocial development stage 7
The primary goal during this stage is contributing to society and helping to guide future generations.

When a person makes a contribution during this period, perhaps by raising a family or working toward the betterment of society, a sense of generativity... a sense of productivity and accomplishment... results.

On the other hand, a person who is self-centered and unable or unwilling to help society move forward develops a feeling of stagnation... a dissatisfaction with the relative lack of productivity.

Psychosocial Development Stage #8: Ego Integrity versus Despair: Wisdom
65 Years +, Seniors

psychosocial development stage 8
At this stage people tend to slow down and explore life as a retired person.

During this time, they contemplate their accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if they see themselves as leading a successful life.

If they feel that they did not accomplish their life goals, they become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.

The final developmental task is retrospection: people look back on their lives and accomplishments.

They develop a sense of despair if they look back on a life of disappointments and unachieved goals.

If they believed that they had led a good and happy life, they develop a feeling of contentment and integrity.

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