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Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Development Essay

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Human development is a highly complex concept among concepts of human sciences. Developmentalists claim that every single event in each stage of childhood development is extremely significant since any reaction to the behaviors in developmental stages has a vital meaning which is realized later in human life.Therefore I can state that every single action in childhood developmental stages has a certain impact on human’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Science of human development is effected in a large extent by six broad theoretical traditions which are psychoanalytic viewpoint, the learning viewpoint, the cognitive-developmental viewpoint, the information- processing viewpoint, the evolutionary viewpoint, and the ecological systems viewpoint.

In this research report, I am going to focus on Freud’s Psychosexual Theory, Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development and the Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development.

If I were to state basically what I concentrate in this research report; on the stages of three human development theories which belong to Freud, Erikson and Piaget.

I will compare these development theories through analyzing each stage of them while addressing some experiences which I have in my life or I have come across in my environment.

The purpose of comparing these three human development theories is basically to figure out their implications to parenting and early childhood education by analyzing the characteristics of the stages of these theories in childhood development. Through this research, I will be able to define the concrete examples of characteristics human development theories’ stages in my life, which means that theoretical knowledge will be shaped in my mind through personal experiences.


Erikson’ Psychosocial Theory of Development is a model which is based on eight stages. These stages are also called as crises in human development,because they involve psychological needs of the individual (i.e. psycho) conflicting with the needs of society (i.e. social).( McLeod,2008). Each stage is vitally important in human lifespan as each of them results in specific characteristic features and certain virtues in personality.

The first stage is trust versus mistrust; it occurs during the first year. What I have experienced about this stage is that the role of caregiver is highly important since the possibility whether the result of this stage will be positive or negative depends on the caregiver attitude towards infant completely. If I were to give an example; in care centers where babies without family are cared can not take sufficient and consistent affection from caregivers. this situation causes these babies to have a perception that the world is a place which is full of unreliable people, that is to say, they develop the sense of mistrust to world.

The second stage is autonomy versus shame and doubt which occurs in 1-3 years. In this stage, child is the beginning of the gaining his independence that is autonomy. An example of what I observed on child in this stage ; my cousin who is 2-year always is in fight with his parents as he always rejects his mother’s help while eating, and he insists on wearing his clothes on his own. These are manifestation that he tries to get the autonomy. What his parents should do in this phase is to allow him to try provide his needs while scaffolding him, which results in a high confidence and independency in child’s personality.

If children are criticized, overly controlled, or not given the opportunity to assert themselves, they begin to feel inadequate in their ability to survive, and may then become overly dependent upon others, lack self-esteem, and feel a sense of shame or doubt in their own abilities.( McLeod,2008)

Third stage is initiative vs guilty occurring around age three to age five. When comes to its implication on parenting and early childhood education; In this process, children initiate many activities, they organize games on they own. and the most significant characteristics feature is asking questions. I remember that when my brother was around five years old, he was always asking me a lot of questions about everything he saw. I was fed up with that mess of questions.

However, I was trying to respond him as I was aware this fact that if I do not respond him, he will stop ask questions and he will repress his questions on his mind after a while ,which prevents him from developing cognitively, socially and emotionally. According to Erikson’s theory, if child is stopped to act and ask freely, they will develop feelings of guilt. So, setting a balance between initiative and guilt is highly important in this stage.

Fourth stage is industry vs. inferiority occurring age 6 to age 12. In this stage, the dominant characteristic feature is productivity. Child starts to produce; after reading he can sum up, moreover, he can make up stories, and new games. He develops new skills which include cognitive and psychomotor skills. As for its implication on parenting and early childhood education; When children are encouraged in their efforts to make, do or build practical things (whether it be to construct creepy crawlers, three houses or airplane models-or to cook, bake or sew), are allowed to finish their products, and are praised and regarded for the results, then the sense of industry is enhanced. But parents who see their children’s efforts at making and doing as “mischief,” and as simply “making a mess,” help to encourage in children a sense of inferiority.( Elkind,1970)


Freud Psychosexual Theory of development is based on five stages in which human personality develops. If all stages are stepped on appropriately, the personality will be healthy. In some situations, person can not pass the stage successfully, he can get stuck in one of these stages. the point which I focus on is the implications of Freud’ Psychosexual theory of development to personality development. I will apply my experiences in order to make the stages clearer.

The first stage is oral stage occurring from birth to age 1. If I were to explain briefly oral stage; the prominent feature of oral stage is that child satisfies himself through oral way, that is, he gets pleasure from sucking and biting. How should parents behave towards the child in oral stage?If, however, a baby’s need for pleasure through the mouth is not satisfied or over satisfied at this stage, it can lead to problems of trust and independence in adulthood. Over-satisfaction at this stage can lead to over dependence on others while deprivation can lead to a highly suspicious, argumentative nature. Orally fixated adults can become smokers or tend to over-eat when stressed.( Cook,2006 )

I remember the time when my youngest brother was about one years old, he used to stick to pacifier all day and night. Whenever my mother would take the pacifier out his mouth, he would scream and cry till my mother would give the pacifier back. What I observed on my brother would cause me to think about the reason behind it. I would not put a meaning on the love of pacifier of babies. I would think that the pacifier is not filled with any food, so it does not feed the babies. Then why are they stick to pacifier? After I learned about the oral stage of Freud Theory, I came to realize the developmental base of my brother’s desire for pacifier.

The second stage is anal stage occurring from age 1 to 3. Like other stages, parenting style has a very immense impact on child’ personality during anal stage. If parent’s attitude towards child is too permissive, child develops a reckless, disorganized, not self-disciplined character. If parent’s attitude towards child is too strict, child develops a strict, rigid and obsessive character.

The third stage is phallic stage occurring between age 3 and 5. What I have observed is that during phallic stage children get satisfied with touching genitals. They get pleasure from the stimulation of genitals. When comes to parenting, I remember that my mother used to warn my youngest brother when he took off his pant in order to touch his genital.It is at this stage that parents who react with revulsion to the child playing with themselves and order them not to do it again anxiety may be produced that may cause problems in adulthood such as frigidity, impotence, promiscuity and at the least, a prudish attitude.(Cook,2006) The last important point is that realizing sex roles occurs during phallic stage.

The next stage is latency stage occurring between age 5 and 12. Sexual energy is suppressed by the development of ego and superego during latency stage. Child gets in contact with peers in social environment. the crucial point is that during latency stage the sexual energy does not vanish however it is directed to other areas such as hobbies, interests, social interactions, and social activities. Teacher should facilitate children’ interest and hobbies in order to convert their energy in a healthy way. Parents need to be provide children with a environment which is conducive to spend energy for hobbies and interest appropriately.


Piaget’s Theory is based on four stages.The first stage is sensorimotor stage occurring from birth to age 2. How should parents or caregiver approach the child in sensorimotor stage? Parents and caregivers need to be aware of this fact that children in this age can not grasp the meaning of the symbols. The all knowledge they have is based on physical interactions and experiences. That’s why, parents need to make children understand concepts throughdemonstration or visualization. Parents/ caregivers should let children in this stage do trial and error since they learn and have experiences through trial and error.

The second stage is preoperational stage occurring between age 2 and 7. How should teachers approach the child in preoperational stage? Teachers should be facilitator for their learning.They should provide concrete and visual materials and prompts in order to encourage their understanding. Children in this stage start to develop complex cognitive skills.Teachers should provide them a learning environment according to their level in order to make them develop cognitive skills appropriately.

The third stage is concrete operational stage occurring between the ages of 7-11 years.What I observed is that the child who is very egocentric in preoperational stage changes his behavior in concrete preoperational stage.If I were to give an example, my cousin used to hate sharing his toys with his brother when he was 5 years old. In his age 8, I realized that he started to share his color pencils with his friends at school. So, I came to this point that he got rid of his self-centeredness and egocentric manners in this stage.

Intellectual development in this stage is demonstrated through the use of logical and systematic manipulation of symbols, which are related to concrete objects.(Wood and Grossniklaus, 2001) If I were to act from these characteristic feature of this stage, the approach of teacher should be in a way that they should provide children concrete, and visual materials by which children can extend their logical thinking and broaden their perception appropriately.


First of all I should state that I got pleasure with what I learned during preparing this report. I came up with many realizations about the early education after analyzing three different approaches to human development. In my opinion, the most important result of this report is that I put meanings on what I have experienced and observed on behaviors and manners of children.I categorized the children’ behaviors I observed into a certain stage of each theory.

Another important result of this report is that considering these theories’s implications on childhood experiences and early childhood education made me realize the strong connection between development stages and caregivers’s/ parents’ /teacher’s role in human development. As I stated before, every single event in each stage of childhood development is extremely significant since every reaction to the behaviors in developmental stages has a vital meaning which is realized later in human life.

Get to conclusion, the last important result of the report is that I realized the importance of the relation between instruction/education programs and development stages. I deduced that the level, activities, and materials included in instruction programs must be definitely in consistent with each stage of development in order to result in success in personality and education life.


Wood, K. C., Smith, H., Grossniklaus, D. (2001). _Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Developmen_t. In M. Orey (Ed.), _Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology_. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

Elkind, D. “Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Man.” _New York Times Magazine_. 1970. Web. 18 May


Mcleod, S. (2008). _Erik Erikson._ Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html

Wagner, K.V. (2010). _Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development._ Retrieved from http://www.allbookez.com/pdf/14l5en/

Cook. M. (2006). _Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development._ Retrieved from http://valen1971.webs.com/Assessments/Freud’s%20Theory%20of%20Psychosexual%20Development.pdf

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