1. Education

Autonomy Versus Shame and Doubt

Stage Two of Psychosocial Development

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Autonomy versus shame and doubt

Autonomy versus shame and doubt is the second stage of psychosocial development.

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  • Psychosocial Conflict: Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt

  • Major Question: "Can I do things myself or am I reliant on the help of others?"

  • Basic Virtue: Will

  • Important Event(s): Toilet Training

Autonomy versus shame and doubt is the second stage of Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. This stage occurs between the ages of 18 months to approximately age two to three years. According to Erikson, children at this stage are focused on developing a greater sense of self-control.

Gaining a sense of personal control over the world is important at this stage of development. Toilet training plays a major role; learning to control one’s body functions leads to a feeling of control and a sense of independence. Other important events include gaining more control over food choices, toy preferences and clothing selection.

Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident, while those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt.

Next: Stage 3 - Initiative Versus Guilt

Return to The Psychosocial Stages

References

Erikson, E.H. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: Norton.

Erikson, E.H. (1963). Childhood and Society. (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.

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