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There are five main child development theories that explain the different aspects of child growth and development and they are; Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Albert Bandura, Mary Ainsworth and Erik Erikson theories. The purpose of this paper however is to not to discuss all the theories but focus on one theorist; the paper will provide biographical information and set cultural context in which the author developed their theory and the content of the theories. It will also discuss the contribution of the theory with reference to its area of concentration. In addition to that the paper will explain how the information is relevant to my work as a professional.
Erik Erikson: The Psychosocial Developmental Theorist
Trained by Ann Freud, Erik Erikson was one the most respected and celebrated psychologist during his time and up to now, his psychosocial developmental theory is one of the most studied and practiced child development theories in the world. According to Cherry, the human personality develops as a person grows and each stage of human development presents a different challenge; it is therefore advised that an individual must be able to overcome these challenges since they determine the future life that a person will have (Cherry, 2010). It is however important to note that there are a particular group of persons who might not be able to make positive life decision due to a number of reasons like age and peer pressure, these are children and adolescents. The responsibility therefore lies with parents, guardians and counselors to provide guidance to this group of people in order to help them make positive decision. There are a number of factors that influence the career choice of a person and for the case of Erik Erickson his childhood experience and abuse that he was subjected to from fellow kids and more particularly his classmates both in junior and senior school encouraged him to study psychology and write books that will help people understand the child development process.
During his childhood days, Erik Erickson was the center of ridicule and discrimination from his junior school classmates due to his physical appearance. Cherry has described the physical appearance of Erik Erickson as a child as blond, tall and blue eyed as compared to his peers (Cherry, 2010). This made him feel unwanted and also discriminated by the society. There are different forms of discrimination that people go through either on a social or professional level, Gib has indicated that some of the most common forms of discrimination that person go through are racial discrimination, age discrimination, gender discrimination among others (Gib, 209). Racial discrimination is one of the most common vices that occur among students in developed nations and for the case of the young Erik Erickson, he did not escape this. He was subjected to racial discrimination while in high school because his mother was of Jewish descend and therefore he was considered an outsider. As indicated in the paper, different factors contribute to a person career choice, apart from the discrimination that the young Erickson received; the role of parental responsibility is one that changed his perspective towards life and therefore the desire to focus on the issue of identity. The young Erickson did not get the privilege of enjoying the love from his biological father because he (biological father) abandoned them before he was born and therefore he was raised by a step dad.
The above biographical factors are the ones that contributed and motivated Erick Erikson to focus on child development and hence he came up with the psychosocial development theory. It is with this theory that is divided into eight different parts that Erick contribution to the world of psychology will forever be remembered.
Erickson's Psychosocial Development Theory
The psychosocial development theory discusses the different stages that a person goes through from birth until death. The first stage is the Trust Vs Mistrust and it focuses on children from birth to one year old. Due to their delicate nature they have total dependency on older people, they have entrusted their lives in the hands of parents and guardians and have no control on any decision made concerning them. The treatment that the child receives from the person he/she has entrusted his/her life with will determine the type of relationship they will have in future. The second part of the theory is the Autonomy Vs Shame and Doubt; the stage of early childhood is when most children start to discover most things in life and in some situations they might be shy to try out some things like using toilet and use of toys. For those who successfully manage to overcome fear and take control gain autonomy while the others develop shame and self doubt. Parents and guardians are required to encourage and motivate the shy children to be bolder and outgoing since it is the only way they can overcome self doubt.
The third stage is the Initiative Vs Guilt; it is often said that people are born leaders and not made leaders, this is the message that Erik Erickson was trying to pass across under this section of the theory. It states that leadership skills in a person are detected in early childhood if the child displays leadership skillls among his/her peers. The support and motivation that we get from parents, teachers and work mates determine our performance in life. This is captured in the fourth part of Erick Erickson's Psychosocial theory; Industry Vs Inferiority. As children approach the end of childhood, most of them have "burning" energy and tend to undertake various tasks mostly for fun. It is therefore important for them to be encouraged for any task they accomplish since it will give them pride and motivate them further.
One of the most critical stages of child growth and development is the adolescence stage. This is because most youths in these groups have an identity crisis and most decisions they make are influenced by peer pressure. It is during this stage that parents and counselors need to be close to their children and guide them well, this are explained in the fifth part of Erickson's theory under the Identity Vs Confusion. This does not stop with the end of the adolescent stage but it is carries on to the early adulthood when most people are torn between Intimacy Vs Isolation and this is captured in the sixth step of the psychosocial development theory. It is however the last two stages that make people judge as to whether the life a person has lived is worthy talking about or not. Generativity Vs Stagnation is the seventh step and it focuses more on family life and career. It is during this stage that most people make good out of it by advancing in their careers and establishing good family bonds. The last stage is the Integrity Vs Despair stage; after having lived a full life, the question that most people as themselves during this stage is, "What have I achieved as a person?" For those who have accomplished their goals and objectives then they have integrity but for those who didn't then despair takes over.
Having looked at this theory, it is important to say that this theory plays a pivotal role in helping parents, teachers and counselors be able to understand the human behavior and how to treat people from children to those in the homes for the elderly. To parents understanding this theory will help you know why your son or daughter is behaving in a certain way as they grow up and you won't be too judgmental or tough on them but rather you will offer guidance on the best decisions to make. As a sociologist, the study of Erik Erikson's psychosocial development theory has helped me have a better understanding of human beings and the way they behave the way they do and therefore am able to interact easily with people irrespective their background and social status. It has also helped me both in my career, personal life as well as my studies.
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