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Erik Erikson Theory of Development

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 1905 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Human life is determined by so many factors which contribute to how they behave. Every human being has a personality which many claim that it might be caused by genes. There are circumstances that go unnoticed which contribute to how people behave. These events run from childhood to adulthood and that is what the theory of development/ model of early childhood development as created by Erik Erikson try to explain. This paper highlights on child development and factors that determines his/her behavior as explained by Erikson in his theory of development. This theory explains why people behave as they do which is contributed by environment, interaction and response. There are eight stages and in each, there are both positive influences as well as negative which give either result. The stages contribute to physical, emotion, intelligence and social features of an individual.

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Theory of Development/Model of Early Childhood Development

The theory of development came up in 20th century when interest to change the perception of children being small adults and aim to discover the abnormal behaviors became a concern. There have been many theories on this ground like Freud’s psychosexual stages which focused on mental disorders in childhood. The Piaget’s stages of cognitive development attributed to Jean Piaget who had a view that children and adults never thought the same. John B.Watson, B. F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov developed the behavioral child development theories which test on the influence of the environment to behavior (Thomas, 2005). Lastly, Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development by Erik Erikson was developed which encompassed the whole human life. Each stage in his theory is presented with conflict whose success or failure impacts on the personality (Muzi, 2000).

Erik Erikson tries to explain the development of personality and behavior in people mostly attributable to stages in life. Most of his work is developed and related to Freud’s; he has only made his complex and covers from childhood to adulthood (Baldwin, 2008). Development takes place in all years in human life according to him. Exposure, training, reciprocation and experience determine the effects of these stages on a person’s behavior and personality either negative or positive. Each stage is presented with equal positive and negative effects and Erik warns against use of the word achievement and encourages on the word acquisition of personality. He built his work on Freud’s to make it more meaningful and accessible. His work shows the tasks that need to be accomplished in different ages for smooth living (Santrock, 2010).

In his model, he developed eight stages using age range which is not fixed hence there are overlaps. In any of the stages that is not well partaken, it may present problems in the future. The first stage according to his psychosocial development is trust vs. mistrust with a virtue of hope and experienced in infants between 0 to I year. In this stage, there is total reliance of the child from the mother. Parents act as a guide as child understands the world. If the child is exposed to the basic needs of the stage, he/she may have trust on the world. If the opposite happens, the child gains a sense of mistrust about the world. This is the stage in which the infant understands about the world and its people. The writer advocates for warmth, sleeping and feeding amongst others (Thomas, 2005).

Stage two is autonomy vs. shame and doubt with a virtue of will and is experienced in toddlers between age 2 and 3 years. The child is on an exploration about the surroundings. At this stage, it depends with the parents’ encouragement as well as strictness. The infants depend on the caregivers’ reaction to their actions. They can move and the muscle coordination is increased. They can attend to some of their issues without bothering the caregivers and if encouraged, they gain a sense of autonomy but if discouraged, they may develop doubts and shame about their ability. It encompasses independence and confidence both of mind and oneself. The writer advocates for toilet training, aiding their walking and showing encouragement (Baldwin, 2008).

In initiative vs. guilt which is the third stage, its virtue is purpose and is in children between 3 to 5 years i.e. preschool. It is based on tasks for purposes and the children learn about nature like gravity. The guilt may be caused by failure to achieve or doing the wrong thing. They have a multiple of choices about the activities to do which may be fit for them or unfit hence affecting the juniors i.e. doing what is beyond their capability. The responses they receive from juniors have effects on their initiative. If they feel motivated, they can try new thing which give confidence and achievement and if they are demoralized, they can feel guilty. The activities undertaken in this stage may result to both negative and positive behaviors. If the child fails in most of his/her activities, frustration may develop hence may depict negative behaviors. Erik encourages on play and adventure as the management techniques (Slentz & Krogh, 2008).

The fourth stage is industry vs. inferiority with a virtue of competence and is between ages 6 to 11 years i.e. childhood. At this stage, children are now aware of themselves and apply more logic to practical things. They aim at doing right, being responsible and attending to their issues with no or minimal assistance. The children are recognized with groups either through culture or differences in personality. The activities undertaken here are complex, meaningful and purposeful. The spirit of cooperation is developed and every child discovers his/her unique capabilities. This stage takes place mostly when many people are in school and is considered as a vital transition in ones life because everything else is built on it. The main techniques are parents’, teachers’ and friends’ encouragement as well as schooling (Newcombe, 2010).

Identity vs. role confusion comes as the fifth stage. It has an ego quality of fidelity and it is between 12 to 19 years concentrated on adolescence. It is a transition from childhood to adulthood in which there is confusion in roles. It brings a sense of identity, what has transpired from stage one to stage four can be termed as mare childhood but now reality of who they are and what the society views and expects of them is vivid. There is what is expected in the future and it is at this stage that matching of the past and the expectations is done. This creates the personality of who you want to be. The sexuality is well developed and there are self ideologies which may or may not be affected by past stages (Slentz & Krogh, 2008).

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Depending on the results from fourth stage, the fifth stage may take place at different ages, some as early as 17 and 18 while others as late as 20 and 21.There are more experiments before the real identity is established. Adolescents are in a position to differ with their parents and caregivers on some issues like politics and religion. Many parents may try to influence decisions made by their children at this stage like the career to pursue. This may block their self establishment hence have an influenced identity because this stage requires total independence. It can be established by identifying with peers and groups (Baldwin, 2008).

The stage of intimacy vs. isolation has the value of love which is established between 20 to 40 years, among young adults. Some bit of identity vs. role confusion may be experienced at early years of this stage due to late identity establishment. Identification with friends is most here and since there is experience of pain, some may isolate themselves due to fear of break ups and rejection. They grow a defense mechanism that that can destroy what seems dangerous to them. With creation of intimacy, people graduate to commitments which call for compromises and sacrifices. This is where marriage is established forming a long-term commitment which brings both emotional and physical closeness. Failure to experience intimacy may cause isolation which may be due to rejection or personal reasons (Slentz & Krogh, 2008). There is need for social life, friends and lovers to achieve satisfaction in this stage.

The seventh stage is generativity vs. stagnation with a virtue of care and is experienced between 45 to 65 years, middle adulthood. It has more social works and responsibility focused on the siblings as they are the future generation. These adults act as caregivers of the young ones and it is a warning that their success or failure in any of the previous stages should not affect on the way they influence the siblings (Thomas, 2005). They have a lot of tasks to do to the young ones and also the children have set expectations about them. Responsibility extends to others and the ability to give it is generativity while inability is the stagnation. It is associated with works of giving back to the community and through care. Production is expected from these mid adults both in terms of work and participation to the community development.

The final stage is ego integrity vs. despair which is experienced in senior adults of age 65 and above. Its virtue guide is wisdom and it is more of a review of how the life has been and what he/she has achieved and need for rest. These individuals feel either rejected or accepted depending on what they have done, the impact of their actions on the community and the world at large (Slentz & Krogh, 2008) It is the stage at which they make peace with people, the creator and also need peace of mind. If their lives have been successful and full of accomplishments, the adult feels full of integrity. If the life has been a total failure, they feel despair. The review is focused on the achievements made which could be in one way or another, an improvement to the world, making it a better place. This stage also allows an adult to give back to the community what he/she had not yet given i.e. being responsible and making up for any mistakes or harms inflicted to both the people and world at large (Thomas, 2005).

In all these stages of life, there are two extremes one positive and the other negative and there is need for an individual to balance both of them to have a balanced living. Each stage acts as a transition to the next and it is important to accomplish the tasks in each stage, failure to which may result to problems in the future. The age gaps provided may not be fixed depending on different reviews as well as individuals. They used as a guiding way to place all the stages in a life of a human being. There are individuals that may be late to graduate to the next stage hence carrying the previous stage tasks (Slentz & Krogh, 2008). Others graduate faster than presented in years in the Erik’s theory. This creates the differences in ages when a given stage starts and when it ends. The most affected stage is identity vs. role confusion in which many girls start at age 9 which is below the provide age of 12 to 19 years. There is need for caregivers to ensure proper balancing of the conflicts especially in the stages that they have control of for good life development


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