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Erik Erikson's psychosocial development theory is among the well-known personality theories of psychology. Erik Erikson believed personality entails stage-by-stage development and he developed eight stages, which are experienced through the lifespan (Erickson, 1950). The theory emphasizes the impact of social influences in the lifespan of a person. This psychosocial stage theory believes in the development of the conscious sense of self, which is commonly known as ego identity development. This element is developed through the social interactions people engage in. new experiences as well as information gathered in life determine our ego identity. This theory is useful to parents as well as preschool teachers in attempt to better understand the behaviour of children in order to enhance healthy psychosocial development.
According to Erickson (1950), the first psychosocial stage involves trust and mistrust. This stage is particularly important of parents as it is experienced in the first year of the life of a child. This stage involves creating a sense of trust to the infant through physical comfort and eliminating any fears about the future. This stage helps develop trust in infants laying a foundation in life for them to face the world. During the first year of life infants are usually at the hands of their parents, therefore parents are better placed to ensure their kids successful pass this psychosocial development stage through provision of good care and elimination of things that could create fear to the child creating mistrust.
The second stage involves being independent as opposed to shame and doubts. This stage is experienced in late infancy and in toddlers who are 1-3 years old. Preschool teachers are caregivers just like the parents. This stage is useful to both parents and preschool teachers since after the infants gain trust in the first stage, they start becoming autonomous in their behaviour. At this level heavy punishment from the parent of the teacher to restrain some behaviours makes them develop a sense of doubt in them. Therefore, this knowledge is very important to ensure parents and teachers allow kids to exercise their autonomy in a healthy manner.
Third stage takes place during preschool years. It involves initiative versus guilt whereby children are exposed to the wider social life facing more challenges compared to infancy. This requires the children to be more active in order to cope with the increased challenges. Such behaviours as teaching them to be responsible for their behaviours, bodies and their belongings are taught at this level. It is the parent and the preschool teacher's role to handle this stage appropriately to ensure initiative behaviour is acquired through a sense of responsibility to the children. This stage further develops a sense of accomplishment to the children eliminating guilt. Fourthly, industry versus inferiority is the other key developmental stage. This is from age 6 to 11 years. This stage involves an interest for achievement and recognition from significant others. The child develops a sense of recognition by the parents or teacher for good work but at the same time realizes a task may as well fail (Erickson, 1950).
The fifth stage takes place in adolescence and it entails identity versus identity confusion. The adolescents at this level begin to search for their identities. At this stage parents should play a major role of helping these young people to understand themselves better. Adulthood versus isolation is the sixth psychosocial developmental stage encountered in early adulthood. It entails the formation of relationships that are intimate with others and friendships. The second last stage is that of generativity versus stagnation found in middle adulthood. At this stage one has an active role of helping the other generation. Lastly, integrity and despair constitute Erikson's final developmental stage. This is the concluding stage in ones life and involves an evaluation of ones life to establish what one has done in life (Friedman, 1999).
In conclusion, Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development is very important to parents and preschool teachers in their efforts to develop healthy psychosocial behaviours in children. Every stage offers and develops unique traits that prepare the children to face the world with a positive mind.