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September 25, 2013

Defining Development

by Angel Pumila

Defining Development

 

Angel Pumila

Below we will cover the life stages according to developmental theorists, Erik Erikson and Lawrence Kohlberg.

I.               Trust vs. Mistrust: Birth to 18 Months

a) According to Erikson’s theory, people go through a series of crises throughout their development that must be overcome in order to successfully progress to the next stage.  The first is trust vs. mistrust.  During this stage, infants are relying on their parents for their needs to be met.  When their needs are met they develop a trusting relationship with their caregiver.  When the infant finds people to be undependable or have irregularity within their relationship, the infant learns that he/she cannot trust and therefore develops mistrust with the world around that will carry over into relationships later in life.

b) In comparison, Kohlberg would consider this level to be pre-conventional.  Pre-conventional moral reasoning is a process of basing decisions upon either obedience and punishment (stage one) or upon their best interests (stage 2).

II.             Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt: 18 Months to 3 Years

a) The crisis at this stage is autonomy versus shame and doubt.  Here, children have the ability to explore the world around.  Children that are encouraged to explore and learn safely conquer autonomy and can deal with problems on their own.  Those that are restricted from exploring feel shame and doubt about their own abilities.

b) In comparison, Kohlberg would consider this level to be pre-conventional.  Pre-conventional moral reasoning is a process of basing decisions upon either obedience and punishment (stage one) or upon their best interests (stage 2).  This level continues until adolescence or adulthood.

III.           Initiative vs. Guilt: 3 to 5 Years

a) The issue at this stage is whether to take initiative in new tasks or guilt about their needs and desires (Bee & Boyd, 2009).  This stage is a continuation of the previous by Erikson.  When a child learns that goals can be met by taking initiative, this stage is successfully conquered.  Yet if children are restricted in their independence, they begin to question themselves and can begin to develop negative self-esteem as a result.

b) In comparison, Kohlberg would consider this level to be pre-conventional.  Pre-conventional moral reasoning is a process of basing decisions upon either obedience and punishment (stage one) or upon their best interests (stage 2).  This level continues until adolescence or adulthood.

c) This stage can vary based upon cultural and ethnic factors.  For example, some children may grow up in a cultural setting that does not enable them to explore their own independence.  On the other end of the spectrum, some cultures give too much freedom to children.

The research finds that “play provides a vehicle for children to both develop and demonstrate knowledge, skills, concepts and dispositions (Dempsey & Frost, 1993; Isenberg & Quisenberry, 2002). With such an emphasis placed on play in Western societies, the presence of outdoor play is reduced from year to year based upon concern for the safety of children in this dangerous world.  Overprotecting parenting stems from numerous safety issues such as street traffic, injury from bicycles or skateboards, or the issue of ‘stranger danger’ (Valentine & McKendrick, 1997).  According to the developmental theorists, this restrictive behavior could prevent children from exploring and learning on their own leading to a lack of motivation and curiosity for trying new things in the world around.

IV.           Industry vs. Inferiority: 5 to 13 Years

a) During late childhood, children are presented with the issue of competence.  Here, more complex skills are learned, children are learning to be individuals and find their place in the world around.  Children learn to develop and nurture their own talents.  If not allowed by parents, they lose initiative and motivation in creating or participating in particular interests.

b) In comparison, Kohlberg would consider this level to be pre-conventional.  Pre-conventional moral reasoning is a process of basing decisions upon both obedience and punishment (stage one) or upon their best interests (stage 2).  This level continues until adolescence or adulthood.

V.             Identity vs. Role Confusion: 13 to 24 Years

a) Who am I?  Beginning in adolescence and lasting until early adulthood, people begin the stage of learning who they are as a person.  They begin to think about their roles in the future.  Successful completion of this stage includes a secure sense of identity, and “an emotional and deep awareness of who he or she is” (Stevens, 1983).  Without that deep sense of identity, people can become confused about their place in the world.

b) In comparison, Kohlberg would consider this level to be considered the conventional level of moral reasoning.  At this age and beyond, decisions are based upon the rights or wrong expected of society.  Stage three seeks approval or disapproval from society by conformance or nonconformance to social standards.  Stage four consists of maintaining the laws and social order of their society.  Approval from others is not required in stage four, instead a personal stance in upholding the norms of a society are key.

VI.           Intimacy vs. Isolation: 24 to 39 Years

a) After completion of ‘Identity vs. Role Confusion’, adults enter into ‘Intimacy versus isolation.  During this stage, people search for intimate relationships and a lifelong partner.  If successful intimate relationships are not found, people prepare themselves for the letdown of being alone. “Intimacy has a counterpart: Distantiation: the readiness to isolate and if necessary, to destroy those forces and people whose essence seems dangerous to our own, and whose territory seems to encroach on the extent of one’s intimate relations” (Erikson, 1950).

b) In comparison, Kohlberg would consider this level to be a combination of conventional and post-conventional morals.  “In stage five (social contract driven), the world is viewed as holding different opinions, rights and values” (Unknown, 2012).  The decision making in stage six concerns universal ethics and principles.  Decisions are absolute and unrelated to the laws and rules of society.  Instead, they are based upon what is right and just.

References

 Bee, H. & Boyd, D. (2009). The Developing Child (12th ed). Boston, MA: Pearson. ISBN 978-0205685936.

Dempsey, J.D., & Frost, J.L. (1993). Play environments in early childhood education. In B. Spodek (Ed.), Handbook of research on the education of young children (pp. 306-312). New York: Macmillan.

Erikson, E.H. (1993) (1950). Childhood and Society. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 242. ISBN 978-0393310689.

Isenberg, J.P., & Quisenberry, N. (2002). Play: Essential for all children.  Childhood Education, 79(1), 33-39.

Kohlberg, L. & Lickona, T. (1976). Moral stages and moralization: The cognitive –developmental approach.  Moral Development and Behavior: Theory, Research and Social Issues.  Holt, NY: Rinehart and Winston.

Little, H. (2009). Outdoor play: Does avoiding the risks reduce the benefits. Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/australian_journal_of_early_childhood/ajec_index_abstracts/outdoor_play_does_avoiding_the_risks_reduce_the_benefits.html

Stevens, R. (1983). Erik Erikson: An Introduction, New Your, NY: St. Martin’s Press. pp 48-50. ISBN 978-0312258122.

Valentine, G., & McKendrick, J. (1997). Children’s outdoor play: Exploring parental concerns about children’s safety and the changing nature of childhood. Geoforum, 28(2), 219-235.

Unknown. (2012). Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Kohlberg’s_stages_of_moral_development#Conventional

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