After I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to choose teaching as a profession. Without much of thought I appeared for the entrance exam for Bachelors in Education.
I completed the course and began my career as a teacher the consecutive year.
The course offered a variety of subjects closely associated with child psychology and behaviour.
Now as a mother, I find my self applying what I learnt then, as a parent.
If I was asked to express my honest view I would say, every parent must hold the B.Ed degree, because we are their first teachers.
One psychological theory that every parent MUST know is the “Theory of Psychological development” by Eric Erickson.
Eric Erickson was an ego psychologist. He emphasises on the conflicts that take place within an individual’s ego from birth to old age.
He highlights the role of culture and society in the development of one’s personality. According to Erickson, the ego of an individual develops as it successfully resolves a conflict that is social in nature.
Before I state why every parent must know this, lets understand the theory in my words.
According to the theory of psychological development, human age span can be divided into eight categories. At each of these stages a human faces a conflict within his ego.
Successful completion of each stage results in a healthy personality and development of virtues in a person. However, inability to overcome a conflict can lead to stress, unhealthy personality and low self-worth.
Age – Birth to 18 months
Conflict – Trust v/s Mistrust
At birth a child is completely uncertain of the world. He looks for care, security and love.
If this care is consistent he develops a sense of trust and a feeling of hope. He feels secure that my needs are taken care of and I have a support system.
In case, the infant is not taken care of he develops a sense of mistrust in the world and people around him. This may lead to insecurity and lack of confidence in the people around.
Role of parent – To develop trust through consistent love and support at this stage.
Age – 18 months to 3 years
Conflict – Autonomy v/s Shame and Doubt
By 18 months of age a child tries to assert his independence by walking away from his caregiver, playing with his toys on his own, performing chores by himself.
If he is encouraged and supported in the right way, he develops a sense of autonomy, self-confidence and independence.
On the other hand if the child constantly fails at what he tries or is overtly protected by the people around he develops a sense of shame and begins to doubt his abilities.
Role of parent – To foster independence by encouragement and support. At this stage a parent plays a very crucial role in his child’s development. A child must be allowed to perform tasks by himself. At the same time parents must provide adequate support and encouragement in case the child fails at a particular task. For example, child can be allowed to wear his own shoes , put on his t-shirt, in case he is not able to do the task a parent can support him by assisting him.
Age – 3 to 5 years
Conflict – Initiative v/s Guilt
These are the years of rapid growth in a child’s life. A child discovers and explores his interpersonal skills and initiatives new activities on his own or with others. Success at his stage develops a virtue of will, confidence and courage to take initiative.
On the contrary if the child is constant held back he may lack self initiative and react with forcefulness. The child may begin to live in guilt of being unimportant and incapable.
Role of parent – To help develop by allowing to explore and accept challenges.
At the stage the child also asks too many questions out of curiosity if these are neglected, it may quell his thirst to learn and acquire knowledge. Parents must allow the children to initiate new activities and accomplish them. It is a parents responsibility to provide room and opportunities for development. Let the child plan a play or game activity, hear him out and help him execute it.
Age – 5 to 13 years
Conflict – Industry v/s Inferiority
At this stage of life a child learns to read, write, solve problems and be by himself. Also the primary influence in a child’s life begins to shift from parents to teachers and peer groups. A child constantly tries to be accepted and appreciated by the society. Success, appreciation and encouragement at this stage motivates a child to become industrious and strive for his goals.
Whereas, if the child is neglected and constantly criticized for his efforts, he begins to feel inferior.
Role of parent – To encourage mastery through recognition and appreciation. Parents must recognise a child’s effort and appreciate it. At the same time, parents must allow the child to strike a balance between success and failure and develop a modest personality.
Age – 13 to 21 years
Conflict – Identity v/s Role confusion
This marks the transition period from a child to an adult. In this stage a child strives to make a better future in terms of relationships, career, family, finances and friends. An individual re examines his identity at this stage, he seeks answers to sexual and occupational queries.
Failure to be able to answer these questions can lead to role confusion. A child may not know what he wants to be as an adult and begins to doubt himself.
Role of parents – To assist in exploring various paths and establishing an identity. At this stage parents have an important role to play in being the support system a child needs. Parents must reinforce his confidence and provide their valuable guidance while their child is exploring different options.
Enforcing a certain identity can lead to confusion. The child may become rebellious and a feeling of unhappiness.
Beyond this stage of life a child grows into an adult and parents have a lesser role to play in his life. If the earlier conflicts are successfully overcome with parental guidance, the later stage becomes happy and content.
Age – 21 to 40 years
Conflict – Intimacy v/s Isolation
At this stage an individual tries to develop close intimate relationships with members of the society apart from his family members. Being successful at doing so develops a sense of security, care, commitment and responsibility.
Failure in being able to succeed at building intimate relationships and fear of commitment may lead to loneliness, isolation and even depression.
Age – 40 to 65 years
Conflict – Generativity v/s Stagnation
By this stage an individual has an established career, is well settled, has a family and healthy relationships.
At this age our ego evokes us to give back to the society. An individual experiences a boost by transmitting positivity to the next generation. Inability to contribute positively to the society and the future generation can make one feel stagnant and unproductive.
Age – 65 and above
Conflict – Ego Integrity v/s Despair
At this stage of life an individual decides to slow down the pace of life and contemplate his achievements and accomplishment. If we look upon our life as a successful one, we develop integrity.
But if an individual holds on guilt and feels that he has led an unproductive life, he is likely to feel unproductive, hopeless and unhappy.
The above explanation of the theory clearly explains why every parent must be aware of it.
As a parent, it is our responsibility to help our child emerge out of these conflicts as a winner.
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Happy Understanding your bundle of joy