Erikson and Kohlberg Life Stages
Introduction Erikson’s Developmental Stages and My Life Erikson’s first stage of development is that of infancy which focuses on the child’s first 18 months of life. During this time a child is supposed to develop optimism, trust, confidence, and security. These key elements are developed through the love and care of a parent or primary care giver. If these elements are not nurtured then a child is more likely to develop mistrust, insecurities, and the feeling of worthlessness (Erikson 1968). During this stage of my own life, I can say that I received a great deal of love and nurturing from both of my parents.
Of course I do not remember this stage in my life, but I have often heard stories about my early years. I was told that I was the apple of my father’s eye. There was nothing that I wanted or needed that he did not try to supply. I was told how he wanted another child even when my mother was adamant that she was done. They already had two children, a girl and a boy, and she did not want any more. The way the story is told, my father used a little persistence and a little alcohol on their anniversary and he got his way. Nine months later I was born and he could not have been happier.
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Erickson’s second stage of development is the toddler/early childhood years ages 18 months to 3 years. This stage looks at autonomy vs. shame-will. During this stage a child learns the differences between right and wrong (1968). Children at this stage test all boundaries and begin show acts of defiance. Erickson also point out that it is during this time that a child can be subjected to the feelings of shame or low self-esteem. At this stage of my life I was told that I was a very amicable child. There was little reason for me to act out or throw temper tantrums because I pretty much had everything that I wanted.
I had two siblings who were five and six years older and they catered to me. I was told that my older sister treated me like her own little baby doll for much of my infancy and toddler years. She doted on me and would often get upset with my mother if she didn’t allow her to take care of the “baby”. I was allowed to explore and grow in a nice relaxed environment. Erikson’s next stage of life, the preschooler stage, focuses on the age of three years to five. Erikson called this the psychological period, during which the child attempts to resolve the conflict of initiative versus guilt y gaining independence (Crandell, et al, 2012). According to Erikson, a child is experiencing initiative when then they try to help their parents do gender specified chores and the parents give them the supervision and the room to explore. But if the child attempts are throttled and they are told that they are not old enough or too little for the task, then this can cause the child to experience a sense of quilt, disappointment, or inhibition (Crandell, et al, 2012). During this stage in my life I can remember sitting and watching my mother as she cooked dinner and sometimes meals for special occasions.
My mother was a very stern person and she did not tolerate children being in her way. I knew that if I wanted to remain in the kitchen, then I had to be very quiet. This was different when I visited my paternal grandmother. When my grandmother was in the kitchen, she encouraged me and my older sister to come in and she gave us small tasks to complete. She allowed me to crack the eggs when she was making the cake and my sister was allowed to sift the flower. If we did everything that we were told without getting into trouble, then we were rewarded with a little chocolate left over from the cake frosting.
Even today, chocolate frosting is my favorite treat. During this stage, immediate family plays a very significant role in the life of a child. The next stage in Erikson’s theory of development is stage four, the school age child. This stage covers the age of six until twelve. During this stage, often called the Latency, we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry (Erikson, 1968). It is during this stage that family or the parents are no longer the major influence in a child’s life.
Even though parents are still very important, friends and the neighborhood began to play a significant role. A child begins to move from the comfort of being the star in the parent’s eyes to learning how to fit in and impress their peers. I can remember this being a somewhat awkward stage for me. It was during this time in my life when I transitioned from elementary school into Junior High. Junior High is an entirely different world from the safety of elementary school. Over one summer, kids went from enjoying just playing together to wanting to critic the clothing and the shoes that each other wore.
I can distinctly remember the day that I realized that I was wearing “cheap” shoes. My dad I had spent an entire Saturday shopping at Kmart for my school clothes and I was so proud when he let me pick out a pair of pink and white, high top Jordash’s with double pink and white strings. I was so proud of my shoes and I couldn’t wait to wear them on the first day of sixth grade. I had picked out a pink and white shirt and a crisp pair of jeans. I put just enough cuff in those jeans to make sure that my Jordashes were clearly on display. I walked around all day with my head held high because I thought I was so cute.
My bubble was bursted on the way to fifth period when my cousin walked up with one of her friends. The friend looked me up and down and said, “What kind of shoes are those. ” I proudly stated, “Jordashes”. She laughed and said, “Oh those are cheap shoes, I only wear Nike’s. ” She walked off laughing. My cousin looked at my shoes and shook her head. She was wearing Nike’s as well. I can remember feeling hurt, confused, and embarrassed. I knew that my parents didn’t make a lot of money but I also knew that I was better off than my cousin whose mom was a single parent who didn’t work.
When my dad got home from work I remember asking him why he had brought me the cheap shoes and not a pair of real tennis shoes like my cousin had. My dad looked me in the eyes and said, “Toya, I brought you the shoes that you wanted and the shoes that we could afford. You didn’t have a problem with them before, so why are you letting your friends make you change your mind? Look her young lady, you have two choices, either be a follower or be a leader but either way you are going to have to use your own mind”. I didn’t understand what he meant and I was still angry.
After that day, I took my pink strings out of the shoes and made sure that my pants covered as much of my shoes as possible. Even though I loved my shoes in the beginning, it was the opinion of my friends that meant the most to me. The fifth stage in Erikson’s theory is the adolescent stage which covers the ages of 12 to 18. Up until this fifth stage, development depends on what is done to a person. At this point, development now depends primarily upon what a person does (Erikson, 1968). It is during this stage when an individual begins to find what their own identity is.
This can either be a period of growth or a period of anguish. Stanley Hall called the adolescent stage, the stage of storm and stress. He used terms such as “inevitable turmoil”, “maladjustment”, and “exaggerated peer-group conformity” to characterize individuals during this stage (Crandell, et al, 2012). For me personally, this was truly my stage of awaking. It was during this stage that I finally became comfortable with myself. I realized that I actually was a leader. I learned that hanging with the popular kids were not as important as being with friends who actually cared about me.
This was very important when I had to go through the death of my father. My friends and my boyfriend stood beside me and truly helped me to handle this devastating time in my life. At age seventeen I lost my best friend. My father was gone but surprisingly, I wasn’t broken. Like I stated before, it was during this time in my life, that I found myself, my purpose. I didn’t have the luxury of giving up. I was my father’s child and he didn’t raise a failure. Stage six of Erikson’s theory is that of the young adult or early adulthood. This stage looks at the ages of 18 to 35.
Erikson calls this stage Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation-Love (1968). It is during this stage that individuals start to settle down. Their primary relationships are with their significant others and close friends. If championship is not successful, then isolation can occur during this stage. From personally experience, I know this to be very true. During this stage in my life, I was right on task with Erikson. I was serious about settling down, and I wanted a child very badly. I didn’t do it in the right order but I did have my first child and I later married the father.
We settled into a comfortable routine and went about the business of raising our children. There were times throughout these years that I wasn’t always happy but life was okay. I had my family, a decent job and pretty good health. It wasn’t until I learned that my husband had another family, that I realized that what I had was a complete lie. This is when solidarity reared its ugly head. I found myself in a very dark place and for the first time, I doubted myself. Was something wrong with me? Did I cause this happen? What did I do wrong? It was the help of prayer and good friends that got me through this difficult stage in my life.
Stage seven of Erikson’s development theory looks at the middle aged adult, ages 35 to 55 or 65. Erikson calls stag the generativity vs. self absorption or stagnation –care stage. Erikson (1968) views generativity as “primarily the concern in establishing and quiding the next generation. ” Individuals have the desire to feel as if they have offered something productive to society, this either through their career or with the choices that they have made in life. They start to experiences changes that they were building toward but were not quite prepared for, such as children and the changing of careers.
This is the stage that I am currently in with my life. I find myself as a thirty five year divorcee, with two minor children, and the desire to make a change in my life. I am reevaluating what was important to me and I am finding that, my life is truly not over. I made the decision to return to school even with all of my fears and I am working toward making myself into a person that I like. I am leaning more toward my religion and I am finding that there is still room for growth even at thirty five. The last stage of Erikson’s development theory is the eighth stage, late adulthood.
This stage covers the age of 55 orl 65 until death. According to Erikson (1968) much in life is preparing for the late adult stage. This is when we put everything into perspective and determine if we are satisfied with the life that we lived or we question the decisions that we made and we ask the question, “was it worth it”. I have yet to reach this stage in my life but I pray that when I look back, I can say, “yes, it was all worth it. ” Kohlberg’s Six Stages and Three Levels of Moral Development Lawrence Kohlberg was a developmental psychologist whose work was primarily influenced by Jean Piaget and John Dewey.
Kohlberg researched the development of moral reasoning by studying differences in children’s reasoning about moral dilemmas. Kohlberg developed six stages to explain his theory of moral develop in children and grouped these stages into three different levels. Kohlberg’s first level it is preconventional. This covers stages one and two. During these stages children are seeking to determine the issues of obedience and punishment orientation where they ask themselves, “How can I avoid punishment? ” and self-interest orientation where they ask, “What is in it for me? (Crain 1965). During this time in my life, I had little care for the feelings of others. My main concern was whether I could do something and get away with it or if I did do something, what would I can from it. I did not have any thought toward the feelings of others. This was what I would call my selfish stage. Everything was all about me. Level two of Kohlberg’s theory, conventional, focused on level stages three and four. These are stages where individuals dealt with interpersonal accord and conformity and authority and social-order maintaining orientation.
It is during this stage that according to Kohlberg, children start to enter their teenage years and start to believe that people should live up to the expectations of the family and the community and behave in “good” ways. Good behavior means having good motives and interpersonal feelings such as love, empathy, trust, and concern for others (Crain, 1985). It was during this time in my life where I started to actually see that other people had feels and that my actions could affect others as well as myself.
Level three of Kohlberg’s theory, post conventional, looks at stage five and six. These stages consist of the ideas of social contract orientation and universal ethical principles. De Vries and Walker (1981) states postconventional morality depends primarily on changes in the structure of thought, rather than on an increase in the individual’s knowledge of cultural values. Basically this is saying that Kohlberg’s theory gives us an idea of how an individual thinks, but not what a individuals thinks about any given matter (Crandell, et al, 2012).
It is during this level and these stages where individuals start to see the rights of others and want to see society work together as a whole. In stage six, Kohlberg’s theory states that there should be justice for all (Crain, 1985). This is the overall theory that I have developed for my own life. I want what is best for all individuals but my hope is that there is no divide and that there is equal justice for all citizens. Conclusion In conclusion, the works of both Erik Erikson and