Category: Psychology

Erik Erickson’s Theory

Erik Erickson’s theory is centered on the notion that the behavior of an individual would depend on eight psychosocial stages. Under this framework, an individual is said to go through various periods of development from infancy to adulthood. As the individual passes through the eight developmental stages, his/her primary objective is the satisfaction of his/her emotional and social needs. In other words, there would be a constant emotional struggle within the individual in each stage that he/she has to resolve with the guidance of an adult or parental authority (Huitt, 1997).

The problem may emerge when such conflicts are not successfully managed or resolved by the individual through, perhaps, improper guidance of the parents or adult figures in the family. If this happens, the individual may experience certain emotional or psychological problems, such as anxiety, low self-esteem, and other adverse effects to one’s personality. To fulfill the purpose of this paper, three stages of Erickson’s theory along with their principles would be discussed briefly.  

The First Stage in the Developmental Period is the Early Infancy

For Erickson, the first stage in the developmental period is the early infancy. In this stage, the infant is highly reliant on the trust given by the parents. Trust, for Erickson, is a necessary component in the development of one’s personality, which may be formed successfully or not during this stage. The infant would become trustful if his/her parents would adequately provide his/her needs, either physiologically or psychologically. For instance, if the child continues to cry because of the deprivation of his/her needs by the mother, then it may result in the development of a natural feeling of suspicion around him/her when grows older. The opposite psychological effect would happen if the mother would attend constantly to the needs of the child, which may develop a sense of trust toward others (Huitt, 1997).

The Second Stage is the Late Infancy Period

The second stage for Erickson’s theory is the late infancy period. The child aging from 1 to 3 would encounter the next struggle, which is the conflict between autonomy or shame and doubt. At this stage, the child is trying to become independent as he/she gradually realizes his/her capacity for freedom. The parent under this stage should appropriately guide the child as he/she tries to crawl or walk. A feeling of shame would be formed if parents would constantly criticize the attempt of the child to express his/her freedom. A sense of autonomy would be developed if the parents would properly guide the child in his/her struggle for freedom (Huitt, 1997).

The Third Stage is the Early Childhood Stage

The third stage of Erickson’ theory is the early childhood stage. A conflict between initiative and guilt would be encountered by the children aging from 3 to 5 years old. In principle, if parents would regularly punish the child because of the mistakes incurred in doing something out of the initiative, then the sense of guilt would be imbibed within the child that may be carried during the adulthood. On the other hand, when the parent would allow the child to explore his/her potentials during this period, a sense of initiative would be formed successfully (Huitt, 1997).

With such an approach, Erickson’s theory has been employed in educational settings. The capacity of the young learners is usually gauged through the stages of development of Erickson because of its systematic and critical approach in examining the development of personality of the learners.

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