Saturday 9 July 2011

Normative Psychosocial Child Development

Following the success of my Understanding Pediatric Cancer series, which has also been featured on MumCentre, and with the encouragement of my sister, here's another installment of more child psychology here at the University of Motherhood.

*Note: The following information had been adapted from my own research and was therefore not written by a medical professional. The terms 'child' or 'children' refer to individuals below the age of 21 years old.

Normative Psychosocial Child Development

According to his Theory of Psychosocial Development, Erik Erikson (1959) classifies typical psychosocial development of an individual from childhood to adulthood into eight stages (Papalia et al., 2004). According to Erikson’s theory, an individual needs to resolve a psychosocial crisis and attain certain developmental tasks successfully in order to develop necessary psychosocial skills that are unique to that stage of development. Of course this theory is often debated by other researchers but there's definitely still some truth in it.

Here's the 1st 5 stages of Erikson's Psychosocial Development which follow the child from birth to childhood:

Stage 1: Infant (birth to 12-18 months)

Crisis resolution: Basic Trust vs. Mistrust
Psychosocial skills attained: If the crisis is successfully resolved, babies develop a sense that the world is a good and safe place
Virtue obtained: Hope

Nurturing your baby's trust in your (i.e. care-giver) protection and love is vital for the development of future relationships with others.

Stage 2: Toddlers (12-18 months to 3 years)

Crisis resolution: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
Psychosocial skills attained: If the crisis is successfully resolved, toddlers develop independence and some self-sufficiency.
Virtue obtained: Will

Helping your child gain some independence at this stage (especially with potty training and language development) is crucial for development but has to also be balanced with setting appropriate boundaries as well. For example, allow your child to explore the playground by himself but tell him not to run out of your sight.

Stage 3: Preschoolers (3 to 6 years)

Crisis resolution: Initiative vs. Guilt
Psychosocial skills attained: If the crisis is successfully resolved, children develop initiative when trying out new activities and not overwhelmed by guilt
Virtue obtained: Purpose

Your child is now able and want to do more. At the same time, they also learn that they need to do things that are socially desirable. Hence, although they really really feel like peeing on the floor, they can't because it is not the right thing to do! However, as this is also the stage where children start to develop their self-esteem, it's important to discipline without hurting their feelings.

Stage 4: School-going children (6 to puberty)

Crisis resolution: Industry vs. Inferiority
Psychosocial skills attained: If the crisis is successfully resolved, children develop competence. If they are unsuccessful, they face feelings of inadequacy.
Virtue obtained: Skill

The development of competence or inadequacy will determine if your child will have a positive or negative self-esteem. With the emphasis on academics in Singapore, the child's performance in school (e.g. in their PSLE) will thus be an important factor that determines his/her self-esteem. Hence, it's important to encourage your child to focus on playing up their strengths.

Stage 5: Adolescents (Puberty to 21 years)

Crisis resolution: Identity vs. Identity Confusion
Psychosocial skills attained: If the crisis is successfully resolved, adolescents develop a sense of self. If they are unsuccessful, they experience confusion.
Virtue obtained: Fidelity

Your adolescent needs a lot more independence and approval of peers due to their need for discovering their own identity. Hence, give them enough space as long as they are able to win your trust.

Papalia, D. E.; Olds, S. W.; Feldman, R. D. & Gross, D. (2004). Human Development (9th Edition). McGraw-Hill: New York, United States of America.

P.S. My master's thesis has finally been accepted with minor amendments! Once I'm done with the edits, I'll finally be graduating and out into the working world soon. Wish me luck =)
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