The Stages of Emotional Development According to Erik Erikson

Filed under: Emotional Development - 14 Jun 2012  | Spread the word !

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The way in which children and adolescents develop from an emotional point of view is very important for their adulthood life. According to psychiatrist Erik Erikson, there are eight emotional development stages that make up the socialization process. He calls them “the eight stages of man” and he came up with them in 1956. According to Erikson, each stage represents a psychosocial crisis that arises and demands resolution before the next stage enters the stage. He did not develop these stages through experimental work. His experience in psychotherapy regarding children and adolescents opened new horizons for him that helped him associate every development phase of a child with a stage which represents the foundation of the child’s further development.

The first stage, hope, is also known as learning basic trust versus basic mistrust and represents the infancy period through the first 1 or 2 years of life. In this stage, parents need to well handle, nurture and love their children in order for them to develop trust, security, and a basic optimism. If these aspects are badly handled, then children become insecure and mistrustful. This means that parents need to carefully cater to their children’s needs in order for them to grow up with a sense of trust. The second stage, will, is also known as learning autonomy versus shame and it occurs during early childhood. This stage usually begins when the child is 18 months old and goes on until the age of 4. In this stage, children are not able to fully associate autonomy with assured self-possession, independence and initiative. However, the stormy self-will, negativism and stubbornness begin to emerge.

In the third stage, known as purpose of learning initiative versus guilt, children learn how to imagine, broaden their skills by means of active play of all kinds, cooperate with others, lead, and follow. This stage occurs in preschool years. Guilt starts to make room and causes children to feel fearful, restricted, and dependent on adults. These were the first emotional development stages according to Erik Erikson. The other ones are industry versus inferiority (competence), learning identity versus identity diffusion (fidelity), learning intimacy versus isolation (love), learning generativity versus self-absorption (care), and integrity versus despair (wisdom). It is very important for parents to know and understand these emotional development stages to be able to raise their children properly and make good persons out of them.

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