Stages of Psychological Development of a Child

There is a saying that children are small versions of adults. When a child born, his or her mind is a blank page on which writing starts right after their birth. This writing determines the behavior of adults in the later stages of life. Today as the literacy rate of the world is increasing, parents take a more active part in topics like good parenting and the psychological development of children. Every parent wants their kid to have all the qualities of good human beings and have the strength to deal with this world.

From Childbirth to adolescents is the period in which children develop most of their habits. Parents often wonder how to help their children to develop good habits. Understanding child psychological development is very important to help them in becoming a civilized person for society.

Popular Theories Regarding Child Psychological Development

Many theories present that describe how the child develops all the behavior from childhood to late adolescents. These theories focus on different aspects of development from social, cognitive, emotional, to intellectual abilities. These studies help the parents to understand their kid’s actions better. Some of the famous theories are:

  1. Psychosexual Developmental Theory Of Freud’s
  2. Psychosocial Developmental Theory of Erikson’s
  3. Behavioral Child Development Theories
  4. Cognitive Developmental Theory of Piaget’s 
  5. Attachment Theory of Bowlby’s 
  6. Social Learning Theory of Bandura’s
  7. Sociocultural Theory of Vygotsky’s

Here I am going to discuss the second theory, which is the Psychosocial Developmental Theory of Erikson’s. This theory deals with social experiences that people go through in their lifespan.  

Erik Erikson’s theory of Psycho-social Development Theory:

Erikson’s study contains eight milestones, and in each milestone, two opposite forces discussed that are positive and negative. Here we will see the first five stages that describe the psychological development of children. Each milestone deals with some kind of conflict. If he or she able to resolves the conflict then they would develop the core value of that stage. If they have good stability in the last stage, the stronger the stage would be for the next milestone. The opposite of it is also true that if they would not be able to develop the needed skill of the last stage, less strong would be their self-realization for the next stage. If the person successfully passed the stage its normally called ego strength, and if failed the stage is referred to as inadequate for that stage. 

Erikson Theory (verywellmind)

Stage 1: Trust Vs. Mistrust  

Erikson talks about newborn babies (first 12-months) in this stage. According to him, infants learn at this stage that they can trust adults for their needs. This is the age at which children need their parents for everything. When parents fulfill their needs very responsively and care for them, they start accepting this fact that they can trust or can rely on people to fulfill their needs. On the other hand, if parents do not fulfill their needs and treat them viciously, they start developing the senes of fear and mistrust. 

Stage 2: Autonomy Vs. Shame and Doubt

Kids age between 1 to 3 years fall in this category. In this age, toddlers start making some small decisions and perform some actions to control the situation in their favor. If parents let the kid decide clothes, food, and toys and let them perform the actions they want to do would give them a scene of independence and autonomy. Those who do not get autonomy and independence in their decisions and actions would create the senes of Shame and Doubt. Like if parents keep on telling their kids at this stage that their cloth decision is wrong, that would make them doubt their abilities.

Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt

Preschool Kids age from 3 to 6 years belongs to this category. In this stage of psychological development, children start planning and try to achieve their goals. Also, they try to control their surroundings through social interactions. Those parents who let their children explore within set limits and support their choices would develop the senes of initiative, ambition, or responsibility. If the kids in that age not supported by their parents in the decisions they take, that would develop the scene of guilt in them. 

 Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority

Elementary school kid age from 6 to 12 they were discussed by Erikson in this stage. At this age, children start comparing their abilities with their friends. If at this stage, parents and teachers support their kids in their activities and encourage them that would help them to develop a sense of achievement and accomplishment. On the other hand, If they are discouraged by parents and teachers, they would create a scene of inferiority complex, which leads to making them doubt his or her abilities. 

Stage 5: Identity vs. Confusion

Teenagers (ages 13 to 19) main focus on this stage to discover their identity. They struggle to get the answer to questions like “What I want in my life?” or “What I want to become?”. In this stage, they do a lot of experiments that would help them to understand themselves. If they succeed in this stage, they develop a true sense of values and beliefs to which they can remain stick in any problem. When teenagers not able to develop the senes of identity or forced to accept the parent’s decision for themselves they become confused in their roles of life. They lose their self-identity and remain confused in the future. In this stage, the ego identity of a person also changes constantly. When they interact with different people, these interactions help them set a more reasonable standard and values.

Strengths and Limitations of Theory:

Erikson’s study has some criticism or limitations that set the ground for further development in this field. 

The biggest weakness of this study that mechanism is not explained through which each stage conflict can be resolved. Also, this study not clearly explains what type of expertise needs to be developed for the successful completion of the stage. Although all these weaknesses exist still this study provides the basic framework to understand the psychological development of a child. The Socials nature of a person and what affect these social interactions have on human behavior is explained by Erikson. Each stage in Erikson’s study concerned with having a competent life.

Also Read: Negative Effects of Peer Pressure on Teenagers