It is human to have a long childhood; it is civilized to have an even longer childhood. Long childhood makes a technical and mental virtuoso out of man, but it also leaves a life-long residue of emotional immaturity in him."

Erik Homburger Erikson (1902-1994)

About Erik Erikson
Born: 15-Jun-1902
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: 12-May-1994
Location of death: Harwich, MA
Cause of death: unspecified

Erik Erikson began in psychoanalysis at the age 25 when he accepted a teaching job in Vienna and was introduced to the Montessori education method as well as many other theories, including those of Anna and Sigmund Freud. These two theorists in particular would later become a major influence in Erikson's thoughts. Even though Erikson was greatly influenced by Freud's theory, which is the psychosexual theory, Erikson makes biological sexuality seem insignificant and instead focuses on the psychosocial features of conflict between a child and their parents. Freud believed that the main reason humans behave the way that they do is because of sexual drives. Erikson believed that the reasons for behavior are social. Human behavior reflects a desire to associate with other people. "Erikson emphasized developmental change throughout a life span, where as Freud argued that our basic personality is shaped in the first five years of life." (Life Span Development, Santrock, Mackenzie-Rivers, Leung, Malcomson, pg.44)

Erikson came up with 8 stages that describe his theory of human development. These stages are based on opposites. "Our personality traits come in opposites. We think of ourselves as optimistic or pessimistic, independent or dependent, emotional or unemotional, adventurous or cautious, leader or follower, aggressive or passive. Many of these are inborn temperament traits, but other characteristics, such as feeling either competent or inferior, appear to be learned, based on the challenges and support we receive in growing up." It is important to realize that the child should be allowed to experience each stage without being rushed to the next one. A humans development is based on the environment they are in and also on the relationships around them.

Stages 1 through 4 expands on the idea that development mostly depends on what is done to us and stages 5 through 8 states that development depends primarily on what we do.
(Arlene F. Harder).

Listed below are Erikson's 8 stages of development.

8 Stages of Development

Stage One: (Hope) - Trust vs. Mistrust

Infancy: Birth to 18 Months
This stage involves a positive interaction with the mother. Involving relationships that are visually, emotionally and physically stimulated. The child will learn to trust their mother and trust that she will meet their needs. This stage is critical because it allows the child to create a trusting relationship with the world and to begin to believe that the future is going to be okay. This relationship is based on a trust vs. mistrust. The interaction between the significant caregiver and the child is crucial in this stage. If the child can trust their caregiver then there is a greater chance that the child will trust others around them.

Stage Two: (Will) - Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Early Childhood: 18 months to 3 years
This stage focuses on learning the main skills of life such as walking and talking. The children are learning how to control feelings and express themselves in ways that can be understood. Such as forming sentences. Relationships with parents are key because without these relationships some of the child's capabilities become limited. This stage is controlled by a child's self-control, courage and will to fulfill oneself. When walking and talking are involved there is more opportunity to be independent to fulfill ones needs. If child is repeatedly harshly corrected than shame and doubt will develop.

Stage Three: (Purpose) - Initiative vs. Guilt

Play Age: 3 to 5 years
The third stage involves a lot of imitating of adults. The child will imitate the adult while playing with toys. A story line is often made up by the child as they play with toys and do activities. Imagination is a very large part of this development stage. The child has the ability to enter a world all their own. The process of wondering starts to emerge in their lives and the children start to question how and why things work. Play is very important in helping the child to shape their understanding of the world around them. This is creates relationships between the child and family, and other feelings such as guilt are felt when necessary.

Stage Four: (Competence) - Industry vs. Inferiority

School Age: 6 to 12 years (around puberty)
This stage happens in the elementary school years. Many new experiences happen in this stage because of the individual wanting to try new things. Knowledge and intellectual skills are becoming mastered. The child is excited about learning and their imagination is very large. The down side to this stage is that the feelings of inferiority may begin to emerge. The children start to get involved with peers and start to care about what their friends and others around them are thinking. Teacher's can play an extremely large role in making sure that the child's self-esteem is healthy. A teacher can also help the child realize that they are capable of doing more than they ever imagined they could do. The relationship between the child and peers and teachers is becoming very significant by this stage.

Stage Five: (Fidelity) - Identity vs. Identity Confusion

Adolescence: 10 to 20 Years
Individuals are trying to find out who they are, what makes them who they are, and what they want to become. Adolescents now start to take on more responsible adult-like roles, such as romance and vocation. Although it is hard for parents to let their children grow into this role, it is imperative that the adult allows the adolescent to explore their new roles in a healthy manner. This is part of the adolescent finding out who they are. If the adolescent is guided in a positive way then a positive path will be defined in the life of that individual. If there is not healthy exploration by the individual, then the result may be identity confusion.

The first five stages describe stages of development that deal with early childhood through to later school years. Elementary school teachers need to focus on stages three to five in teaching children. While a pre-school teacher may need to focus on stages one and two. Stages three to five focus mainly on play, role playing and play materials in the development of the child. Teachers should try to incorporate appropriate games, materials and opportunities for growth that coincide with each stage.

Stage Six: (Love) - Intimacy vs. Isolation

Early Adulthood: 20's and 30's
In this stage the individual will begin to form intimate relationships with other people. "Erikson describes intimacy as finding oneself, yet losing oneself in another." (Life Span Development, Santrock, Mackenzie-Rivers, Leung, Malcomson, pg.44). The young adult must form healthy relationships with others and an intimate relationship with another individual. If this happens then intimacy is achieved. If there are not any healthy bonds formed the result may be isolation.

Stage Seven: (Caring)- Generativity vs. Stagnation

Middle adulthood 40's, 50's
Adults in this stage of life are very concerned with leading the younger generation in developing healthy, meaningful lifestyles. This is referred to as Generativity. It is important for the adult to feel that they are contributing to society by passing on their knowledge and their stories of experience. If the adult feels like they have done nothing to help the next generation they begin to feel useless. Depression and regret are the result. This is called stagnation.

Stage Eight: (Wisdom) - Integrity vs. Despair

Late adulthood (60's - )
In this stage one will look to their past and decide whether their time as been well spent or if it had been wasted. If throughout the stages of life the individual had a positive outlook with positive experiences, then they will probably conclude that their time had been well spent. If the previous stages resulted in pain and heartache and were not looked upon in a positive way then despair sets in as one believes that their time on earth was not well spent.

Erikson believed that a person will pass through one stage before entering the next, as stated in the last stage of Erikson's development theory the outcome can be positive or negative.
Here is a short video which is a tribute to Erik Erikson and it also explains the 8 stages of his developmental theory. This video is found on You Tube use the link below.

Erik Erikson You Tube Tribute
Some theorists argue that development does not necessarily happen in set stages, but experiences are what shape us as human beings. Learning and discovering who we are continues all throughout our life spans, whether there are set stages of development or not.

Erikson being a stage theorist would argue that development happens in these stages and in a set order. The psychoanalytic approach that Erik Erikson took emphasizes that yes major development happens in the early years, but it also takes place during adulthood and continues until death.

Sources Used by Harder.]
Life Span Development, Santrock, Mackenzie-Rivers, Leung, Malcomson, pg.44