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Manual > 9 - Parenting Issues > Erickson's Psychosocial Stages

Erickson's Psychosocial Stages

First Year of Life
Infancy: Trust v. mistrust
If significant others provide for basic physical and emotional needs, infant develops a sense of trust. If basic needs are not met, an attitude of mistrust toward the world, especially toward interpersonal relationships, is the result.

Ages 1-3
Early childhood: Autonomy v. shame and doubt
A time for developing autonomy. Basic struggle is between a sense of self-reliance and a sense of self-doubt. Child needs to explore and experiment, to make mistakes and to test limits. If parents promote dependency, child's autonomy is inhibited and capacity to deal with world successfully is hampered.

Ages 3-6
Preschool age: Initiative v. guilt
Basic task is to achieve a sense of competence and initiative. If children are given freedom to select personally meaningful activities, they tend to develop positive view of self and follow through with their projects. If they are not allowed to make their own selections, they tend to develop guilt over taking initiative. They then refrain from taking an active stance and allow others to choose for them.

Ages 6-12
School age: Industry v. inferiority
Child needs to expand understanding of world, continue to develop appropriate sex role identity, and learn basic skills required for school success. Basic task is to achieve a sense of industry, which refers to setting and attaining personal goals. Failure to do so results in a sense of inadequacy.

Ages 12-18
Adolescence: Identity v. role confusion
A time of transition between childhood and adulthood. A time for testing limits, for breaking dependent ties, and for establishing new identity. Major conflicts center on clarification of self identity, life goals, and life's meaning. Failure to achieve a sense of identity results in role confusion.

Ages 18-35
Young adulthood: Intimacy v. isolation
Developmental task is to form intimate relationships. Failure to achieve intimacy can lead to alienation and isolation.

*Materials adapted from: Corey, G. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy.
Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1986.

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