Erik Erikson

Child Development


  • Born in Frankfort, Germany, 15 June 1902
  • Went to school in Vienna and meet a Canadian- American teacher named Joan.
  • They moved to American in 1933
  • They had a daughter
  • Died in Harwich, Massachusetts, 12 May 1994


Erik Erikson was best known for his 8 stages of psychosocial development. His theory marked and important shift in thinking on personality instead of focusing simply on early childhood events. His theory also contributed to studying a personality throughout an entire lifespan.


Eriksons theory is used in schools to make children feel comfortable around peers. They are also used to understand children and their needs.

Trust vs. Mistrust

The sense of trust vs mistrust is developed in the first year of life. During this stage infants are uncertain about the world and it is the parents or primary caregivers job to make sure that the infant is getting consistent care to develop the sense of trust. By developing trust an infant will gain hope, failing to give the infant the sense of hope can lead to the development of fear. Example: Aspen’s mom didn’t pay attention to him when he was young, now he is shy and not confident in himself.

Autonomy vs. Shame

Between the ages of 18 months and three years children begin to assert independence. The children are discovering that they have many skills and abilities such as, putting on shoes or clothes, playing with toys ect. It is very important that parents allow their children to test their abilities and not do everything for them but encourage them to do things independently, but occasionally helping them so the aren't constantly failing. If the parents don't occasionally assist the child and they are constantly failing, then they could struggle with lack of self-esteem in the future and feel shame about their abilities. Example: Candice is a supportive mother, she has patience while her daughter is trying to dress herself, and helps her when asked for assistance.

Initiative vs. Guilt

The sense of initiative vs guilt is seen in the age range of three to five years old. During this age children are regularly interacting with other children in the form of play. Play is important and provides the opportunity to explore the surrounding world. At this age kids like to ask lots of questions, if the parents treat the kid's questions and annoying or trivial then the kid's may development the feelings of being a nuisance. Example: Hannah and her dad went on a road trip, Hannah kept asking him questions, instead of getting annoyed he responded polity so Hannah wouldn’t feel guilty.

Industry vs. Inferiority

The development of industry vs inferiority occurs in the ages five to twelve. During this time teachers become a very important role in the children life. A child's friend group also plays an important role in building their self esteem. If the children are encourage, they will feel confident but if they do not receive enough encourage the child will begin to feel inferior. Example: Kaleb likes to play baseball, he isn't very good but his parents encourage him so he won't feel inferior to his friends.

Identity vs Role Confusion

The development of identity vs role confusion occurs during the ages twelve to eighteen. Erikson claims that the individual may feel uncomfortable about their body for a while until they can adapt to the changes. During this time they explore their new identity, the failure to establish this identity will lead to role confusion.

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Occurs during the ages 18-40 when we start explore long term relationships. Success in this stage will lead to comfortable relationships and a sense of commitment or safety. Avoiding relationships can lead to loneliness or sometimes depression

Generativity vs. Stagnation

This stage occurs during middle adulthood, 40-65, when we work, begin our families and give back to the community. By failing at any of these, people may become stagnant or feel unproductive.

Ego Integrity vs. Despair

Senior citizens (65+) tend to slow down, during this time they look back upon accomplishments, those who succeed will gain wisdom and a sense of closure. Those who look back and only see failures tend to be depressed and hopeless.

Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. "Erik Erikson: The Man Behind the Psychosocial Stages." About Health, 02 July 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

"Erik Erikson Biography." 27 July 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

McLeod, Saul. "Erik Erikson." Simply Psychology. 2008. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.