Erik Erikson proposed that eight stages of psychosocial development exist spanning from birth through adulthood. Each stage contains a development crisis and each crisis stage has the potential for a positive or a negative outcome. Positive experiences lead to positive outcomes, and negative experiences lead to negative outcomes.
General education teachers must consider stages one through five of Erik Erikson’s eight stages. The five stages are explained in terms of the age, the positive social experiences, the negative social experiences and the educational implications.
Stage 1: trust vs. mistrust (ages 0-18 months).
Stage 2: autonomy vs. shame (ages 18 months-3 years).
- Trust: If nurtured and basic needs are met, children learn that others can be dependable and reliable.
- Mistrust: If there is cold parental care or lack of nurturing, children learn the world is undependable, unpredictable and possibly dangerous.
- Educational implications: Meet physical needs consistently and provide physical affection at regular intervals.
Stage 3: initiative vs. guilt (ages 3-6 years).
- Autonomy: If self-sufficient behavior is encouraged in appropriate venues, children develop as individuals.
- Shame: If caretakers demand too much and no autonomy is allowed, children develop shame and doubt about their ability to handle problems.
- Educational implications: Provide consistent, reasonable discipline, opportunities for students to do for themselves, and positive role models.
Stage 4: industry vs. inferiority (ages 6-12 years – critical period for building self-esteem).
- Initiative: If independence to plan and undertake activities is given, children learn to plan and take responsibility for their own needs and activities.
- Guilt: If adults discourage a child’s plans or activities, children develop guilt about needs and desires.
- Educational implications: Support efforts to plan and carry out activities, help with realistic choices that consider others needs.
Stage 5: identity vs. role confusion (ages 12-18 years – critical period for building self-esteem).
- Industry: If patterns of working hard, persisting at lengthy tasks and putting work before pleasure are rewarded, children learn to take pride in their accomplishments.
- Inferiority: If children are punished or cannot meet expectations, feelings of inferiority about their own abilities develop.
- Educational Implications: Give opportunities for children to achieve recognition and praise by producing things.
- Identity: If students are treated as adults and challenged with realistic goals, they will achieve a sense of identity regarding the role they will play as adults.
- Role Confusion: If students are treated as children, they will have mixed ideas and feelings about where they fit into society.
- Educational Implications: Treat students as adults, challenge them with realistic goals, and address issues of identity.