Erik erikson

The aim of this essay is to select a major theorist and discuss their contribution to the cognitive and social development in childhood. Erik Erikson was one of the most distinguished theorists of the 20th century. He discovered and developed psychosocial theory. He was also one of the first theorists to cover the entire lifespan of an individual. Erikson’s proposed eight psychosocial stages which he named “ The Eight Ages of Man”, which range from birth to 65 years and onwards (O’Brien, 2008). Throughout this essay I will discuss stages one to four which occur during childhood 0-12 years old. Erik Erikson was born on June 15th 1902, in Frankfurt Germany. When Erikson finished school he left home and moved to Florence to pursue his interest in art and enrolled in Baden State Art School. A year later, he moved to Vienna where he became an art teacher in a psychoanalytic school for children run by Dorothy Burlingham and Anna Freud who was the daughter of Sigmund Freud. While in Vienna, he also took classes in the University of Vienna which led him to receive a certificate in the Montessori Method (Puckett and Diffily, 2004). This move changed his life and career. When Erikson met Anna Freud he became interested in psychology which led him to study psychoanalysis. He was influenced by the work of Freud and this turned his career towards the study of children and their development (Salkind, 2004). Erikson extended Freud’s theory by combining his primary assumptions and expanding on them, considering other factors that could influence development. Erikson’s theory highlights that an individual’s personality develops in stages from social and cultural experiences across the lifespan. Freud’s theory of personality development concentrates on sexual and aggressive impulses through different psychosexual stages (Keenan and Evans, 2009). Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development helps us understand children’s feelings and how their emotional and social lives affect their learning (Pound, 2011). Erikson’s theory describes that an individual’s personality develops at each of the eight psychosocial stages of life. Erikson suggested that at each stage there is a different sort of conflict or crises that arises between the individual and relationships with others. He believed that each crisis must be resolved successfully for the individual to be prepared for the next life crisis. A negative or positive outcome of how the crisis is resolved leads to the change and development of the individual (Shaffer, 2009). Erikson’s first psychosocial stage of life is called Trust versus Mistrust. This stage takes place from birth to one year. The basic idea of the first stage is for the infant to develop trust. This occurs when the child’s needs for warmth, food, sleep and nurturing are consistently met. The infant is completely dependent on the caregiver and relies on them to meet their needs. By providing the child with consistent care, the caregiver helps them to develop self-trust and the ability to trust others and their environment (Essa, 2010). In a case were the child’s needs are not adequately met, a sense of mistrust in themselves and others around them is developed. They then move through future stages with this sense of mistrust, seeing the world as threating place filled with unreliable or untrustworthy people. When working with children Erikson’s theory is still used in practice nowadays. Teachers working with infants take particular care to provide a predictable environment and consistent caregiving. Babies are completely dependent on adults to meet their needs. Therefore, it is very important that they are nurtured by admirable, positive adults who are affectionate and sensitive in response to the babies needs as soon as they occur. The infant can then start to develop a sense of trust in the world that will support their growth into the next stage (Gordon and Browne, 2010). The second stage of life is known as Autonomy versus Doubt. This occurs from two to three years of age. According to Erikson during the second year of life toddlers begin to assert both their motor and cognitive abilities by trying to become more independent. Although they are still very dependent, they must learn to reach a balance between reliance on their caregiver and their desire to explore new things. One possible conflict revolves around toilet training. Successful growth through this stage gives the child a feeling of self-control and accomplishment of their own abilities (Essa, 2011). Erikson portrays a view that if children are made feel ashamed of their efforts they can develop a sense of self-doubt and insecurity. Children need to be able to express their growing independence within the safety of a loving, supportive environment. The search for autonomy not only requires great efforts from the child but also patience and support from their parents (Pressley and McCormick, 2007). For example, by encouraging children to explore and try new tasks parents hope to further their sense of independence. When children complete a task independently and successfully their sense of autonomy grows. Some children fail to develop a sense of autonomy. This may be because they failed at most tasks they attempted or discouragement from parents and developed a sense of shame and self-doubt instead (Newman and Newman, 2006). In early childhood education programmes children are praised for their achievements such as toilet training. A relaxed attitude from teachers and praise for their students helps the child gain a sense of independence without shame. Providing encouragement for both the child’s success and failure of a task gives balance between the child’s natural doubts and their drive for independence. The third stage of Erikson’s theory is Initiative versus guilt. This stage takes place from three to six years. During this stage children observe their parents and want to attempt many tasks that they watch them perform. Their sense of autonomy which developed from the last stage gives them the independence to attempt activities that are beyond their competency. If the parents give the child support and guidance in their new activities, this will result in feelings of achievement and pride in their own initiative. If the child is made feel that they are wrong for trying out new activities and are punished when the child tries to show initiative, they will be left with feelings of guilt (Berns, 2009). At this stage children have a great imagination and are very curious about their surroundings. In schools, children are encouraged to play with a variety of different toys to promote creative play and are exposed to different experiences such as school trips to learn more about the world. They are encouraged to ask the teacher questions, use their imagination and are given freedom to play and choose their activities. This promotes their feeling of initiative (Pillitteri, 2010). Erikson believed that the crucial point in this stage is the activity of children playing together. Playing allows the child to explore their communication abilities through such behaviour as deciding what to play. By using their initiative, children learn that they can make decisions, present a course of action and implement plans. As a result of this, children learn the basic skills of problems solving while working with other. These basic skills are an essential foundation for coping effectively in society (Carducci, 2009). The final stage of Erikson’s theory involved in childhood is called Industry versus Inferiority. During this stage the child has developed from their curiosity to try different things to their need to master certain activities (Ray, 2011). Such activities may include learning to read, write or playing a sport. As they start to master certain activities, children develop a sense of industry and begin to use their skills in a more personal way. For example, reading a book of their interest. While learning these skills in the company of their peers, some children may discover that their standard of skill is lower than others in their peer group. This awareness can cause the child to develop a sense of inferiority, and can lead them to lose interest in certain activities (Carducci, 2009). This feeling of failure and inferiority can result in the child giving up on certain activities because they believe they do not have the skill or ability required. Children continuously receive praise and attention for their efforts during school and social activities to encourage a sense of Industry (O’ Brien, 2011). Erikson’s theory contains 4 stages which are involved in the area of childhood. These four stages include trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. doubt, initiative vs. guilt and industry vs. inferiority. These range from birth to age twelve. Erikson has helped to contribute to our understanding of child development through these eight psychosocial stages. He describes the important issues for young children and the support we need to provide to help them gain a healthy development. Erikson’s stages have provided a framework for teachers working with young children. By using Erikson’s theory this helps the teacher promote healthy development in there students and is still used now in the modern classroom. Reference List Berns, R. (2009). 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