Emotional and Social Development
By the time children reach the age of three, they have established relationships with families, peers, and others outside their home and school environments. By the time they are four or five, they are capable of expressing and labeling a wide range of emotions. Teachers who are concerned about the social and emotional growth of their children must be aware of the contributions of the psychoanalytic theorist Erik Erikson. His comprehensive work provides us with a solid theoretical framework that underlines the importance of facilitating the emotional and social development of the children in our classrooms.
Erikson’s Psychosocial Development
Erikson (1963) presents a series of psychological conflicts or crises that human beings must resolve in the development of personality. The outcomes of these conflicts can have positive or negative effects on ego development. The resolution of each conflict is dependent on relationships with others in our environment, and the positive outcome of these conflicts during a lifetime is important in the building of a positive self-esteem and positive feelings about ourselves and others. As with Piaget’s theory of intellectual development, Erikson’s stages are age related and, again, teachers must use caution in thinking that children may be in only one stage of development.
During the first year, a child learns that the world is a trustworthy place and that she can trust those around her for sustenance, protection, and affection, or she develops feelings that she cannot trust those around her because her needs are not met. During the toddler stage, she begins to assert her choice and will as she develops some degree of independence. If she is too restricted by the external, overcontrol of her caregivers, she learns to doubt her abilities. This results in a loss of self-esteem. By the time she reaches age three, and until around her sixth year, her motor and intellectual abilities are increasing, and she begins assuming more responsibility for initiating and carrying out her ideas. When her attempts at initiative are not accepted by those around her, she develops feelings of guilt because of her misbehavior.
Older children, ages six through twelve, develop feelings of self-worth through mastery and achievement of their accomplishments and interactions with others, or they come to feel inferior in relation to others. The realization of possible failure leads to guilt and fear of punishment.
© ______ 2006, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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