Developmental Analysis: Social Learning Theory by Erick Erickson

The eight stages of psychosocial development are instrumental in analyzing the growth and development of children. This paper aims to analyze my life experience using the eight stages of Erick Erickson. I have successfully passed the first six stages. In the first step, trust versus mistrust, I was unaware of what was happening around me and, thus, I asked my parents the question about the way I used to behave and analyzed my experience. In autonomy versus shame and doubt step, I was still unaware of my surroundings, and I had to ask my parents again. I found out that I successfully passed the first two stages, which are analyzed in this paper.  I was conscious in the remaining four steps (initiative versus guilt, industry versus inferiority, identity versus role confusion and intimacy versus isolation) and, therefore, I will give my account on my behavior based on the remaining four stages outlined by Erick Erickson. I will discuss the six steps regarding the influence they had on my current life. Similarly, this paper will examine the implications that my experience had on my life and the goals in life. Finally, this paper will discuss my Christian life. 

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The social learning theory as postulated by Erick Erickson consists of eight stages of development. The steps include the following: trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and doubt, initiative versus guilt, industry versus inferiority, identity versus role confusion, intimacy versus isolation, generativity versus stagnation and ego identity versus despair (Erickson, 1950). Erickson identified them to be psychosocial stages that people have to go through in normal life. Additionally, Erickson ascertained that the person must complete the previous stage to handle the subsequent stage efficiently (Erickson, 1950). In fact, the steps cover the entire human life, and, therefore, a 31-year-old male is still going through the psychological stages. According to Erickson, the 31-year-old is in the intimacy versus isolation stage. In this paper, I aim at analyzing my life using the first six stages of the psychosocial theory by Erick Erickson and conclude with the behavior that might influence my aging process and its solution.

Trust versus Mistrust

According to Erickson (1950), this stage is attained during infancy. The child develops trust in mother during breastfeeding and general care. The approximated age for this stage is between zero to eighteen months. During my infancy, I was unaware of the events that happened around me. Therefore, I asked my parents about my behavior during the age bracket of zero to eighteen months. They told me that they took proper care of me as a baby and I did not have any abnormality during that age bracket. My mother told me that during I did not have any problems with breastfeeding and was breastfed exclusively for six months. Moreover, my mother said that, although, she found it difficult to balance her work and the care of me, she made sure that she came home early, breastfed me, cleaned me and played with me. In fact, she insisted that I did not display any behavioral problems during the process. 

I also asked my parents what they did to make sure that I was safe. My father told me that they used to put me in a secure environment and made sure that I was not alone. Although both of my parents had jobs, they made sure that I was well taken care of while they were away. Perhaps, this experience explains why I have never developed any suspicion of my parents since my childhood. I have always been concerned about them ever since my childhood and I always want to know how they are doing when I am not with them at present time. 

Then I asked the maid, who used to take care of me when my parents were not around. I was curious why I never had a close attachment to her that I had to my parents. She told me that my parents were consistent in my care. Moreover, the maid said that my parents used to come home every evening, thus, she could start caring for me the following day, when they left for work.

According to Liu, Leung, and Yang (2013), breastfeeding and proper social interaction between parents and children guarantee bonding, optimal neurodevelopment, and prevents children from developing behavioral problems. Additionally, children develop trust in their mothers and feel secure in their environment (Kair, Flaherman, Newby, & Colaizy, 2015). Therefore, I can conclude that the bonding helped me to develop trust in my parents, my caregiver, and my environment, which enabled me to pass through the stage efficiently.

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Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt

According to Erickson (1950), this is a stage, where the child needs some independence from the mother. The child also develops curiosity whether it is okay to do things alone. The stage runs from 18 months to three to four years. At the age of 18 months, I was unconscious of my environment. In fact, I can recall some of the things that I used to do, although, I cannot remember them clearly. I still asked my parents, who represented my closest people, about my behavior after 18 months. My mother told me that I was able to walk by that time and I used to go out of the house alone. Moreover, I was never afraid of people carrying me, when my parents were around. Perhaps, I had the trust that my parents would secure me any time, which enabled me not to be ashamed and doubtful about my environment. 

My mother said that at the age of two and a half years I used to laugh with her and the people, who used to take care of me, when she was not around. Moreover, she said that I learned to speak faster than my fellow peers at that time due to my continuous interaction with other people. My father also said that I was curious and I even broke some glasses, while trying to put one glass on the shelf that was taller than I was. 

At the age of three, I remember that I used to turn on the television and the radio without any help. I also learned to go to the bathroom without any help from my parents. Moreover, I remember that my parents used to encourage me to do various activities like washing dishes and dressing on my own at that age. Although, I never used to do some things such as washing the dishes perfectly; my father said that they trusted sometimes that I could succeed at some tasks. Perhaps, this encouragement enabled me to handle many problems on my own, the way I do it currently. Moreover, my parents said that I used to participate in singing and other necessary child activities in church. According to Cote Lecaldare, Joussemet, and Dufour (2016), toddlerhood is a sensitive period, when parents must encourage their children to perform some activities on their own, because it is developmentally appropriate for the toddlers. The assistance and motivation I received from my parents and the curiosity I had during toddlerhood enabled me to go through this stage with ease. 

Initiative versus Guilt

Erickson (1950) ascertains that the child can initiate an action on its own by trying to manipulate the environment at this stage. The stage runs from three years to six years. In fact, I was fully conscious of my actions and I remember everything that happened during that time. Moreover, it was the stage, when my parents punished me for several misconducts, which made me develop some guilt about my actions. 

Interestingly, I remember that I used to pray before any other person prayed during the mealtimes at home. We used to learn different kinds of prayers in church, and I found it convenient to experiment with them both at home and in the church. Moreover, I used to help my mother with cooking and other house chores. In fact, this was the stage, when my father bought me a bicycle, which had three wheels. I used to cycle it all over the neighborhood. I could also carry my friends on it and I could force my father to repair it for me anytime it was broken.

Again, I remember that my parents allowed me to play with other children in the neighborhood with only a few restrictions. They never controlled me a lot, but they always advised me to choose my friends wisely the way I learned in church. My friends and I used to give each other the nicknames before we started playing football. If the ball was spoilt, we took clothes, fold them into a ball, and continue playing. Furthermore, we used to climb the trees, as it was an excitement to know that we could do it on our own. 

What is important, it was also the stage, when I learned to read and write. The teacher gave me the assignments in the kindergarten, and I would hand them over the next day. Although my parents helped me to do the assignments, I always had the urge to do them on my own. 

The challenge I had at this stage was the guilt about some actions I used to do. For instance, I could feel guilty about my decision to go to school, if the teacher gave me the assignments in school and I noticed they were difficult. Similarly, whenever I made mistakes such as using my clothes to play football, my parents could punish me that made me feel guilty about my actions. Nevertheless, I was curious and I learned a lot at this stage. 

Papadopoulu et al. (2014) contend that childhood experiences are significant in the development of socio-emotional skills and competencies. Erickson (1950) further ascertains that the balancing initiative and guilt is necessary, since it enables the child to have a sense of a purpose. From these two assertions, I understand now that I went through the stage of initiative versus guilt with ease because my actions were balanced with my guilt. 

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Industry versus Inferiority

This stage runs from six years to twelve years. Erickson (1950) explains that the child can attend school and acquire technical skills at this stage. Erickson (1950) further ascertains that the child has to forget the hopes and wishes and begin to be a worker and a possible provider. 

At this stage, I was at elementary school, where I used to study and compete with my fellow students. During that time, I noticed that I needed to have a career like my parents. I became aware of different jobs through reading magazines, watching television and reading several books at school. 

While studying at school, I used to play soccer with my peers that sometimes made me feel like I had the talent to become a soccer player. In class, I also used to perform well, especially, in mathematics, which caused me to envision myself as an engineer. Therefore, I worked hard in both sports and academics, and my excellent performance in both spheres made my parents become proud of me. Moreover, my parents encouraged and supported me. However, sometimes my friends could outshine me in soccer and academics, which made me feel inferior. Little did I realize that it was a normal developmental process.  

Erickson (1950) states that sometimes children feel inferior and inadequate if they cannot achieve their goals at this stage. The inferiority may make the child become discouraged and lose hope of the ‘industrial action.’ However, Leung and Choi (2010) provide a solution to this problem by ascertaining that peer support programs need to be present in school to enable students to develop high self-esteem needed for better academic achievement. 

I remember that my teacher had divided us in groups in our class, where we used to help each other with assignments. We could also assemble a team of friends, where we used to encourage each other to win against any given team. In comparison to the description of  the industry versus inferiority stage by Erickson (1950), I am confident that I went through this stage successfully based on my experiences during that time. 

Identity versus Role Confusion

The identity versus role confusion stage makes many adolescents vulnerable to many challenges in life, but my commitment to the church, my family, and my goals encouraged me to avoid the problems associated with it. According to Erickson (1950), an individual acquires identity during this stage. The stage runs from twelve years to twenty years. Within this age bracket, I was curious who I was and who I wanted to be. My youthful life had begun, but I remained committed to my goals and minimized every other distraction. Sometimes I could have the urge to form sexual relationships with the opposite gender, but my future, my God, and my family remained the focus within this age bracket. 

Layton, Dollahite, and Hardy (2011) contend that the children can grow up committed to a particular religion if the parents take the initiative of inculcating religious values in their children at a young age. Similarly, Shahhosseini, Masoumeh, and Ramezankhani (2014) reiterate that parents play a significant role in influencing the behavior of adolescents and their decisions. During my previous stages, my parents encouraged me to behave well, choose friends wisely, attend church services, follow the way of life I learned in church and stay focused on my goals. Probably, such a situation explains, why I never developed a deviant behavior at this stage as explained in the theory of social development. 

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Intimacy versus Isolation

Intimacy versus isolation is my current stage. According to Erickson (1950), an individual has productive work and is intimate with the opposite sex during this stage. Furthermore, the adult is willing to fuse his identity with others. 

I have been making friends with many people since my late 20s, and I still feel the need to have more friends. However, I prefer to spend more time alone, when I am planning my future life and meditating upon my Christian life. While choosing friends, I have come to an understanding that I need to identify friends with similar character because they can enable me to be productive in my life (Roberts-Griffin, 2011).

At this stage, I feel contented despite the absence of any intimate relationship. Moreover, I have maintained my respectful and trustworthy character. In fact, I am also caring and I continue to uphold my Christian values. If I need a wife soon, I will consider a Christian woman, who can help me in my Christian life since my religion preaches unity of the purpose (2 Cor. 6: 14). Furthermore, the research has demonstrated that commitment to Christianity improves marital relationships and enhances peace among couples (Liu, Marks, & Baumgartner, 2011). Therefore, I will stay committed to my religion despite any challenges I might face.

Regarding the work, I have been determined to do my current job, which has enabled me to contribute immensely to my family. I also invest my money in various shares and bonds to ensure that I take proper care of my children when I get them. However, contrary to the requirements of this stage stated by Erickson (1950), I have not developed intimate relationships, which might be detrimental to my social development. 

According to the analysis of my life using the Erick Erickson theory of personal development, it is evident that this method is important in the examination of child development. The approach considers many aspects that influence child development such as parents, the environment, and the society as a whole. Additionally, the theory not only discusses the positive aspects during the development of the child but also examines various challenges the child meets on its way to becoming an adult. During the analysis, I have noticed that I am in the intimacy versus isolation stage, where I am supposed to have developed intimate relationships. However, I am still single now, and I do not have any trouble with my social life. Probably, further research needs to be done to explore this stage in order to identify any issues connected to intimate relationships. In fact, I know that this aspect might negatively influence my aging process since intimacy is crucial at this age as discussed by Erickson. Nevertheless, I intend to get married once I am psychologically prepared to ensure that the current situation does not affect my old age negatively. 

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