Relating Erikson’s Eight Stages To My Life

2374 words - 9 pages

Many of our temperament traits are evident at birth. However, other characteristics such as trust, guilt and competency are learned based upon our life experiences and the support we receive as we grow and develop. Based upon his research, Erikson became aware of the influence maturation and social demands have on behavior and ultimately on our development. He believed these two forces "push[ed] humans everywhere through…[a set of] eight psychosocial crises" (Sigelman, C. & Rider, E., 2009, pg.332). He organized life into eight stages that extend from birth to death.
Erikson's first psychosocial conflict is trust versus mistrust. This stage begins at birth and continues until about one year of age. The central issue that infant’s resolve in this stage is "Can I trust others?" (Sigelman, C. & Rider, E., 2009, pg.332). Erikson (2009) believed infants learn to trust other people if their needs are satisfied by their caretakers. If a caregiver is unresponsive to the infants needs and they go un-met "the balance of trust…will tip in the direction of mistrust" (Sigelman, C. & Rider, E., 2009, pg.332). Through resolving this issue of trust and mis-trust, Erikson believed infants "begin to recognize that they are separate from the caregivers who respond to their needs…[and] begin to distinguish self from others"(Sigelman, C. & Rider, E., 2009, pg.332). Research in child development supports this stage and has shown that 2 to 3 month old infants do begin to distinguish themselves from their caretakers. Erikson believed "for development to proceed optimally, a healthy balance between the terms of of each conflate must be struck" (Sigelman, C. & Rider, E., 2009, pg.332). Therefore, it is important to development to have a successful resolution of this stage because it lays the foundation for each additional stage. If a stage is not resolved correctly, later stages may remain unresolved as well. Parents are primarily responsible for satisfying this stage of development in their child. It is imperative parents are attentive to their infant's needs so trust can be developed.
Autonomy versus shame and doubt is the next stage in Erikson's psychosocial theory. This stage primarily deals with the issue "Can I act on my own?" and it last from about age one until age three (Sigelman, C. & Rider, E., 2009, pg.332). According to Erikson (2009) in this stage a toddler begins to assert their will and they develop a greater sense of their own identity. Research supports this developmental stage as well, and 18 month olds begin to "recognize themselves in a mirror and lace their speech with me and no" (Sigelman, C. & Rider, E., 2009, pg.332). To develop this stage parents should let their children have some control over small areas of their lives. One way a parent could do this would be give their toddler a choice in what they wear between several outfits, or a choice of activities. Parents could ask their 3 year old "do you want to go to...

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