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Erikson's Life Span Development Theories

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The theory of psychosocial development developed by Erik Erikson is one of the best-known theories of personality. Erikson believed that personality develops in a series of stages and described the impact of social experience across the lifespan. Similar to Sigmund Freud, but unlike Piaget, Erikson believed that personality develops in a series of stages that are predetermined. Unlike Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages, Erikson’s theory, that of a psychosocial behavior, describes the impact of social experience across the entire lifespan. At each stage of development, Erikson described conflicts that act as turning points in life. This paper will discuss what Erikson’s theories is sheltered instruction, and how they apply to English Language Learners. The eight stages of development that Erikson suggests are important in teaching an English language learner for success. Without success, the student can develop mistrust, an inferior complex, role confusion, and feel isolated. In this paper, you will learn how these traits develop and how important they are to a student trying to learn a new language.

Erikson’s Developmental theories:

Erikson is most famous for his work in refining and expanding Freud's theory of stages. Development, he says, functions by the epigenetic principle. This principle says that we develop through a predetermined unfolding of our personalities in eight stages. Determined by our progress, each stage is considered by our success, or lack of success, in all the previous stages. Each stage involves certain developmental tasks that are psychosocial in nature. Although he follows Freudian tradition by calling them crises, they are more drawn out and less specific than that term implies ( The eight stages are as follows.

The first stage, infancy or the oral-sensory stage is approximately the first year or year and a half of life. The task is to develop trust without completely eliminating the capacity for mistrust. If mom and dad can give the newborn a degree of familiarity, consistency, and continuity, then the child will develop the feeling that the world -- especially the social world -- is a safe place to be, that people are reliable and loving. Through the parents' responses, the child also learns to trust his or her own body and the biological urges that go with it. If the parents are unreliable and inadequate, if they reject the infant or harm it, if other interests cause both parents to turn away from the infants needs to satisfy their own instead, then the infant will develop mistrust. He or she will be apprehensive and suspicious around people.

The second stage is the anal-muscular stage of early childhood, from about eighteen months to three or four years old. The task is to achieve a degree of autonomy while minimizing shame and doubt. If mom and dad permit the child, now a toddler, to explore and manipulate his or her environment, the child will develop a sense of independence. The parents should not discourage the child, but neither should they push. A balance is required. On the other hand, it is rather easy for the child to develop instead a sense of shame and doubt. If the parents come down hard on any attempt to explore and be independent, the child will soon give up with the assumption that cannot and should not act on their own.

Stage three is the genital-locomotor stage or play age. From three to six years of age, the task confronting every child is to learn initiative without too much guilt. Initiative means a positive response to the world's challenges, taking on responsibilities, learning new skills, feeling purposeful. Parents can encourage initiative by encouraging children to try out their ideas. However, if children can imagine the future, if they can plan, then they can be responsible as well, and guilty. If a two-year-old flushes a watch down the toilet, one can safely assume that there were no "evil intentions." It was just a matter of a shiny object going round and round and down it goes. What fun! But if a five year old does the same thing... well, she should know what's going to happen to the watch, what's going to happen to daddy's temper, and what's going to happen to her! She can be guilty of the act, and she can begin to feel guilty as well. The capacity for moral judgment has arrived.

Stage four is the latency stage, or the school-age child from about six to twelve. The task is to develop a capacity for industry while avoiding an excessive sense of inferiority. Children must "tame the imagination" and dedicate themselves to education and to learning the social skills their society requires of them. At this stage, the parents and other family members are joined by teachers, peers, and other members of he community at large. They all contribute: Parents must encourage, teachers must care, peers must accept. Children must learn that there is pleasure not only in conceiving a plan, but also in carrying it out. They must learn the feeling of success, whether it is in school or on the playground, academic or social.

Stage five is adolescence, beginning with puberty and ending around 18 or 20 years old. The task during adolescence is to achieve ego identity and avoid role confusion. Ego identity means knowing who you are and how you fit in to the rest of society. It requires that you take all you have learned about life and yourself and mold it into a unified self-image, one that your community finds meaningful. Without these things, we are likely to see role confusion, meaning an uncertainty about one's place in society and the world. When an adolescent is confronted by role confusion, Erikson said he or she is suffering from an identity crisis.

Stage six is that of intimacy verses isolation. If you have made it this far, you are in the stage of young adulthood, which lasts from about 18 to about 30. The ages in the adult stages are much fuzzier than in the childhood stages, and people may differ dramatically. The task is to achieve some degree of intimacy, as opposed to remaining in isolation. Intimacy is the ability to be close to others, as a lover, a friend, and as a participant in society. Because you have a clear sense of which you are, you no longer need to fear "losing" yourself, as many adolescents do. The emphasis on careers, the isolation of urban living, the splitting apart of relationships may lead to fear of commitment. Because of our need for mobility and the general impersonal nature of modern life, prevent people from naturally developing their intimate relationships we tend to move toward this stage at a slower pace. If you successfully negotiate this stage, you will instead carry with you for the



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