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Psycho-social development is a branch of psychology that describes and sometimes aims to modify age-related behaviors from conception to death. It helps greatly to understand various stages in development and therefore assists us in becoming better individuals as well as understanding others in a better light.

“Just as the parts of the body develop in interrelated ways in the human fetus, so does the personality of the individual develops as the ego progresses through a series of interrelated stages. All the ego stages exist in the beginning in some form but each has a critical period of development.”

Erik Erickson who was born in Germany to parents of a Danish Stock, in his psycho-social theory of human learning put across 8 crucial stages of development of life.




1) INFANCY. Trust vs. Mistrust (Birth to 1 year)

Infant’s basic impulses around their oral satisfaction like taking in food and actions such as biting.  In case, the significant social relations (mother) handle these needs firmly together with a sense of loving, then, the infant develops trust, confidence and optimism and vice-versa. It is believed that these formative years are the most important years in the life of any individual. Attachment to the mother for security and comfort purpose forms a basis for interpersonal relationships in later years.

2) EARLY CHILDHOOD. Autonomy vs. Shame and doubt (1 to 3 years)

Toilet training of the infant provides experience in `holding on and letting go’. An outlet for the child to decide from themselves how to execute these need leads to sense of self-control and adequacy.  For this role parents have to play an important role. Two to three years olds move away from attachment syndrome. Peer model influences the development of give and take behaviors in 3 and 4 years and also facilitates cognitive and empathy development in children. Mother’s positive altitudes and warmth make children emotionally well adjusted, independent in actions and decision making, because, they develop better competence and self-confidence in facing realities of life.

3) PLAY AGE. Initiative vs. Guilt (3-7 years)

It’s a period of conflict development due to children sexual and aggressive advances. The Role of the Family has to be positive giving purpose and direction and ability to initiate one’s own activities. Friendship during the earlier (4-9) tends to be self-serving. A friend is someone who does what I want. In later years, it acquires out going and reciprocal characteristics. Friends are seen as people who do things for each other. Children at this age would like to explore things; opportunities should be provided to meet this curiosity motive. We need to develop and nurture their observation and inference process on the basis of concrete interactions with objects, phenomena and persons.

4) SCHOOL AGE. Industry vs. Inferiority (7-12years)

On entering the school system, children engage in a variety of play/academic activities. Success in these activities leads to development of competence in intellectual, social and physical activities and sense of productivity. Honest parental support as well as neighborhood is crucial. School acts an important role. Qualities like enthusiasm, sense of humor, friendliness, and integrity are modeled after both the parents. In general, gender differences on intellectual abilities during the stage are silent. Whatever minor differences that edge either gender can be neutralized by providing educational experiences. Children are maximally ready for active learning between the ages of 6-12.  Qualities of enthusiasm, sense of humor, friendliness, and integrity are equally well modeled by these children.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Also Read :- What Kind of Intelligence does your child possess? [/perfectpullquote]

5) ADOLESCENCE. Identity vs. Role confusion (12-18 years)

With the onset of puberty, acquired security and identities are badly shaken among the adolescents, sexual impulses and relations with others pose severe problems. Those who come to the grip of a unique and integrated personality become better individual. Important role is played by the peer groups and models of leadership. Women tend to develop identity and intimacy simultaneously. Gilligan (1982) has found that a woman’s individual identity is based more on interconnected relationships with others, while males develop in through separation from others. Androgynous (possessing both male and female characteristics) individuals are better adjusted than sex-typed individuals. At this age the adolescent’s process information on the basis of hypothetic-deductive reasoning. It deals with abstract thinking. In Adolescence, “an experience in learning under conditions of responsibility, produce change and growth in the learner”. This encourages the child to take the initiative, decision and control.

6) YOUNG ADULTHOOD. Intimacy vs. Isolation (18-30 years)  

During this period a need to love someone of the opposite sex is intensely felt. This provides mutually satisfying state of affairs.  Partners in friendship, sex, competition, and cooperation are crucial. They lead to the ability to form close and lasting relationships in order to make career commitments.

7) ADULTHOOD. Generatively vs. Self-absorption (30- 60 years)  

The term encompasses meaning like the fostering and enriching of one’s pursued interests, promotion of welfare activities and rearing of one’s children. Non achieved goals lead to frustrating situations in areas of self-interest and hatred for work-culture conditions. All these cause stagnation among persons. Mankind leads to sense to fulfillment and satisfaction with one’s life. The concerns about midlife crises and empty nest syndrome seem relevant even for the teachers themselves.

(a)  Midlife crises Research work has suggested it for woman at about 35 to 40 for man.

(b)  Empty Nest Syndrome Parent-child relationships after the child had left the home.


[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Also Read :- Know Your Child Better with Jean Piaget[/perfectpullquote]

8) MATURE. Integrity vs. Disgust (60 years +)

The healthy person feels a sense of having led a wholesome life. These are persons who feel being self-actualized. Therefore, they possess ego-integrity. Non actualized persons feel disappointed, failure and loss. The person who display ego integrity have achieved emotional integration for better 65+ and beyond living. This leads to willingness to face death.

If you have been undergoing any of the traits of the above stages, then you are not alone and if you are witnessing them in any individual, then he/she is not the only one. Thus, certain socio-psychological characteristics are inherent to a stage and must be dealt with maturity and understanding.


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