Erikson’s 8 stages of psychosocial development

Erik Erikson’s life

Erik Erikson was born in Frankfurt Germany on June 15 1902. his birth came under unusual circumstance his mother Karla Abrahamsen was a young Jewish girl. Her husband Valdemar Salmansen was a stockbroker who had been involved in criminal activity and in fled the country to escape imprisonment. While he was gone Carla had an affair and became pregnant with Eriksson.

erik erikson
Erik Erikson

 She never revealed who Eric’s father was though she said he was Scandinavian four months after Eric was born Carla’s husband died. Erikson’s mother studied to become a nurse and when Eric was three years old she remarried Theodor hamburger. A paediatrician hamburger adopted Eric in 1911 and then had three daughters with Carla. As a tall white boy, Eric struggled to fit in his Jewish community at school.

He was teased for being a Jew as the stepson. he also struggled to fit in with his family. his personal life may have led him to his research on identity. He is famous for having coined the term identity crisis.  Erickson studied art and several languages and rather than go to a traditional college. he travelled around Europe in Vienna.

 He began to paint children’s portraits where he met Anna and Sigmund Freud. Anna began teaching him and he received a certificate from the Vienna psychoanalytic society.

Theory of Erik Erikson

Erikson’s eight stages of development are said to be influenced by Freud’s theories. he also graduated from the University of Vienna with a teaching degree in 1930. Erikson married a dance teacher Joan Searson and had two children with the rise of the Nazis. The family moved to the US after more time studying at Harvard and Yale. he started a practice where he became the first child psychoanalyst in Boston.

Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development

stages of psychosocial development
psychosocial development

Eric Erickson divided lifespan into eight stages each of which involves a psychosocial crisis. One’s personality is shaped by how individuals deal with the psychosocial crisis.

 Psychosocial is a description of the relation between an individual’s emotional needs and the social environment around him or her.

According to this theory at critical ages, people experience developmental crises specific conflicts whose resolutions prepares the way for the next stage.

Stage one: trust versus mistrust

Stage one infancy to one-year issue trust versus mistrust. if needs are dependably met infants develop a sense of basic trust. as infants, we ask ourselves if we can trust the world and we wonder if it’s safe. we learned that if we can trust someone now. we can also trust others in the future. if we experience fear we develop doubt and mistrust the key to our development.

Stage two: autonomy versus shame and doubt in childhood

 stage two toddlerhood. one to two years issue autonomy versus shame and doubt. toddlers will learn to exercise and do things for themselves or they doubt their abilities. We experience ourselves and discover our body we ask is it okay to be me if we are allowed to discover ourselves then we develop self-confidence. If we are not we can develop shame and self-doubt both. Now parents play a major role.

Stage three: initiative versus guilt

 Stage three preschooler three to five years issue initiative versus guilt preschoolers learn to initiate tasks and carry out plans or they feel guilty and about efforts to be independent. In preschool, we take the initiative to try out new things and learn basic principles like how round things roll. we ask is it okay for me to do what I do. if we are encouraged we can follow our interests. if we are held back or told that what we do is silly we can develop guilt. we are now learning from the entire family.

Stage four: industry versus inferiority

 Stage four elementary school six years to puberty issue competence versus inferiority. Children learned the pleasure of applying themselves to tasks or they feel inferior.

Stage five: identity versus role confusion

 Stage five adolescence teen years into 20s issue identity versus role confusion. Teenagers work at refining a sense of self by testing roles and then integrating them to form a single identity or they become confused about who they are. During adolescence, we learned that we have different social roles.

 We are friends students children and citizens many experiences an identity crisis. If our parents now allow us to go out and explore we can find an identity. If they push us to conform to their views we can face role confusion and feel the lost key to our learning our peers and role models.

Stage six: intimacy versus isolation

 Stage six young adulthood 20s to early 40s issue intimacy versus isolation. Young adults struggle to form close relationships and to gain the capacity for intimate love or they feel socially isolated. If we cannot form intimate relationships we might end up feeling isolated and lonely. Our friends and partners are now central to our development

Stage seven: generativity versus stagnation

 Stage seven middle adulthood 40s to 60s issue generativity versus stagnation. The middle age to discover a sense of contributing to the world usually through family and work or they feel a lack of purpose.


Stage eight: integrity versus despair

 stage 8 late adulthood 60s and of issue integrity versus despair.

Erikson theory in teaching

When reflecting on his or her life the older adult may feel a sense of satisfaction or failure applications for teachers. Teachers who apply psychosocial development within the classroom create an environment where each child feels appreciated and is comfortable with learning new things and building relationships with peers without worrying. Teaching Erikson’s Theory at the various grade levels is vital to make sure that students will attain mastery of every stage in Erikson’s Theory without conflict.

There are specific classroom activities that teachers can incorporate into their classrooms during the three stages that include school-age.

Erik Erikson experiment


Children at the preschool level teachers want to focus on developing a hardy personality. Find out what students are interested in and create projects that incorporate their area of learning. Let the children be in charge of the learning process.

 When participating in classroom projects make sure to point out and praise students for good choices. Offer continuous feedback on work that has been completed. Do not criticize or ridicule students openly find a private place to talk with a child about a poor choice or behaviour.

 When children experiment they should not be punished for trying something that may turn out differently than the teacher planned. Utilize physical activity to teach fairness and sportsmanship. Teachers should focus on achievement and peer relationships at the elementary level.

Create a list of classroom duties. Discuss and post classroom rules make sure to include students in the decision making process. When discussing rules let students know that striving for perfection is not as important as learning from mistakes encourage children to help students. Who may be having trouble socially and/or academically never allow any child to make fun of or bully another child?

Build confidence

 Build confidence by recognizing success in what children do best during the middle and high school years. Building identity and self-esteem should be part of a teacher’s focus treat. All students equally do not show favouritism to a certain group of students. Based on gender race academic ability or socioeconomic status incorporate guest speakers in the curriculum from as many areas as possible so as to expose students to many career choices.


Encourage students to develop confidence by trying different approaches to solving problems, incorporate life skills into lesson planning to encourage confidence and self-sufficiency though Erik Erikson did much to move ahead.

Theory-based on experiences

The thinking in the area of psychosocial development. There are several critiques on his theories most of his ideas came from his personal notes and experiences with clients and they are difficult to test. His theories are limited to the time and culture in which he lived and practised and therefore may not translate well to other times and cultures.

 His theories largely came from his work with males and may not have the same implications as females. Lastly, he gives very few details about how to successfully resolve conflicts and move from one stage to the next.

Final notes

Throughout his eight stages, three ways the Erik Erikson theories have contributed to learning our first things.

 He learned from the Freud’s and shifted the focus from a child going through the stages of sexual development to a child going through stages of identity to adulthood and beyond.

 He helped us understand that identity formation is important in becoming a productive happy adult.

Erikson also taught that personality is shaped over one’s whole lifetime experiences later in life can lead to healing of problems that may have occurred in early childhood.

 He helped us focus attention on the innate need to feel loved connect and respected by other people.

 Erickson said place doesn’t make any sense without interdependence.

 We need each other and the sooner we learn that the better for us all.

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