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Stages of Psychosocial Development

Psychosocial Development in Preschool, Middle Childhood, and Adolescence

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Psychosocial Stage 3 - Initiative vs. Guilt

  • During the preschool years, children begin to assert their power and control over the world through directing play and other social interactions.

  • Children who are successful at this stage feel capable and able to lead others. Those who fail to acquire these skills are left with a sense of guilt, self-doubt, and lack of initiative.

  • When an ideal balance of individual initiative and a willingness to work with others is achieved, the ego quality known as purpose emerges.

Psychosocial Stage 4 - Industry vs. Inferiority

  • This stage covers the early school years from approximately age 5 to 11.

  • Through social interactions, children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities.

  • Children who are encouraged and commended by parents and teachers develop a feeling of competence and belief in their skills. Those who receive little or no encouragement from parents, teachers, or peers will doubt their abilities to be successful.

  • Successfully finding a balance at this stage of psychosocial development leads to the strength known as competence or a belief our own abilities to handle the tasks set before us.

Psychosocial Stage 5 - Identity vs. Confusion

  • During adolescence, children explore their independence and develop a sense of self.

  • Those who receive proper encouragement and reinforcement through personal exploration will emerge from this stage with a strong sense of self and a feeling of independence and control. Those who remain unsure of their beliefs and desires will feel insecure and confused about themselves and the future.

  • Completing this stage successfully leads to fidelity, which Erikson described as an ability to live by society's standards and expectations.
Next: Young Adulthood, Middle Age, and Old Age - Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development

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