Adolescent social development Erikson
There are many ways in which Erikson made major contributions to developmental psychology. A few points worth noting about Erikson's theory:
- His was a theory of development across the lifespan. Unlike Freud, Piaget or some of the other stage theorists, Erikson's theory covers adult development from birth through old age. To me, this makes a lot more sense than Freud, who says most of the important development occurs before age eight, or Piaget, who thought cognitive development is complete around twelve to fifteen. Personally, I think I, and most of the people I know, have developed a lot since age eight or fifteen - and thank God for that!
- His is not a psychosexual theory, but a psychosocial one, focusing much more on social interactions than bodily ones. As Erikson said, yes, children do become toilet-trained between ages one and three, but a lot of other things happen as well. They learn to talk, walk, feed themselves, climb, build, draw, etc. for the first time. Surely, says Erikson, all of those accomplishments have an impact on development.
- Erikson believed there were eight stages, and, at each one, the individual resolved a crisis between a positive and negative alternative.
Resolution of a crisis does NOT mean that a person rejects one alternative completely, but rather, that he or she finds a balance between the two alternatives. Think about it, a person needs a little mistrust - there are some people you just shouldn't trust. Serial killers display no guilt, but I really don't think that's the model in which we want to raise our children.
A preschool teacher once said to me. "We never say 'no' to our children because psychologists have proven that it damages their self-esteem."
I don't know what psychologists she was talking about, but I think she was simply misunderstanding Erikson, who would have said that children DO need to hear 'no' sometimes, to realize that the whole world does not revolve around them. Of course, telling the child "no" all of the time is bad as well. Erikson, in his book Childhood and society said that there is a limit to how much a child is willing to believe that everything he wants is bad, shameful or dirty, and he may come to conclusion that the only bad thing is that YOU are in the way keeping him from what he wants. Erikson's eight stages are:
TRUST VS MISTRUST where the infant learns that either the world is basically good and can be trusted or is basically bad and can't be relied upon to meet one's needs. Erikson said that what is important is not whether you bottle-feed or breastfeed your baby, but that the baby can count on you not to let him go hungry or cold, to take care of him. Babies who have inconsistent parents, who sometimes feed them when they cry and other times yell at them, learn that people can't...
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