Three Developmental Charts: Erikson, Kohlberg, and Piaget

As a follow-up to my blog posts in the Guide Your Child’s Intellectual Development series, I’ve laid out three developmental charts capturing Erik Erikson’s eight stages of emotional development, Lawrence Kohlberg’s three levels of moral development, and Jean Piaget’s four stages of intellectual development.

ERIKSON’S 8 STAGES OF EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Erik Erikson, the German child psychologist who settled in the United States in the 1930s, came up with the eight psychosocial/emotional stages of development that cover a lifetime. He is also credited with formulating the concept of the adolescent identity crisis.

AGE: Birth to 1 year

STAGE: Trust vs. mistrust

WHAT’S GOING ON
Children are learning to trust the world. Trust is fostered by consistency, continuity and sameness of experience. 

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
If parents satisfy an infants needs consistently, the child will come to think of the world as safe and their parents as dependable. 

AGE: 2 - 3 years

STAGE: Autonomy vs. shame and doubt

WHAT’S GOING ON
Now that children trust their parents, they must exert their independence.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
If parents encourage children to do what they can do at their own pace, they develop a sense of autonomy. If parents are impatient or they shame children for unacceptable behavior, self-doubt will develop.

AGE: 4 - 5 years

STAGE: Initiative vs. guilt

WHAT’S GOING ON
Growing ability to use language and take part in many physical activities sets the stage for initiative which adds to autonomy.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
If parents take time to answer questions and give children freedom to explore and experiment, initiative will be encouraged. If children are restricted or made to feel that their questions are a nuisance, they will feel guilty about doing things on their own.

AGE: 6 - 11 years

STAGE: Industry vs. inferiority

WHAT’S GOING ON
As children enter school, their behavior is dominated by intellectual curiosity and performance. He develops a sense of industry, knowing he gets recognition by producing things.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
If the child is encouraged to do things, finish tasks, and is praised for trying, then industry results. If the child is derided or treated as bothersome, feelings of inferiority and inadequacy result.

AGE: 12 - 18 years

STAGE: Identity vs. role confusion

WHAT’S GOING ON
Adolescents are preparing to take a meaningful place in adult society. The danger at this stage is role confusion: they have no idea of appropriate behavior that others will react to favorable.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
If adults show by their reactions that the child has succeeded in integrating roles so that she has a consistent perception of self, healthy self-identity develops. Otherwise, the result is child role confusion.

AGE: Young Adulthood

STAGE: Intimacy vs. isolation

WHAT’S GOING ON
The young adult needs to form close and committed intimate relationships with other people.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
Parents can model the behavior that the child himself must adopt: the ability to commit to a relationship even when it calls for sacrifices and compromises. Failure to do so leads to a sense of aloneness.

AGE: Middle age 

STAGE: Generativity vs. stagnation

WHAT’S GOING ON
This is the period when they have children and raise them.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
Erikson considers this stage a time when we, not only raise our own children, but take action the is productive and creative on behalf of younger generations generally. Those unable to do so become victims of stagnation and self-absorption.

AGE: Old age

STAGE: Integrity vs. despair

WHAT’S GOING ON
Integrity is the acceptance of who one has become and what one has achieved in life. Despair expresses the feeling that the time left is too short to start another life and try out alternate routes to integrity.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
At this stage, we are all on our own.

 

KOHLBERG’S 3 LEVELS OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT

Lawrence Kohlberg, an American psychologist who pioneered the study of moral development in the 1950s, posited that moral reasoning developed through three levels and six stages. Kohlberg believed that progression from one level to the next proceeded in a gradual fashion. He also acknowledged that the last stage was essentially a theoretical ideal that is rarely encountered in real life. He asserted that most adult Americans operate at Level 2, Conventional Morality, blindly conforming to existing social norms and authority.

LEVEL 1: Preconventional Morality: Young children may be well behaved but they do not yet understand the conventions or rules of society. They interpret “good” and “bad” behavior in terms of physical consequences, such as reward and punishment.

AGE:         1 -9 years

         STAGE 1: Punishment-obedience orientation. Children’s behavior is guided by the belief that those in authority have superior power and should be obeyed in order to avoid punishment and stay out of trouble.

         STAGE 2: Instrumental relativist orientation. An action is judged to be right if it is instrumental in satisfying one’s own needs or involves an even exchange. Obeying rules should bring some sort of reward in return.

LEVEL 2: Conventional Morality: Children this age conform to the conventions of society because they are the rules of society.

AGE: 9-20 years

         STAGE 3: Good Boy- Nice Girl Orientation. The right action is the one that would be carried out by someone whose behavior is likely to please or impress others.

         STAGE 4: Law and Order orientation. To maintain the social order fixed rules must be established and obeyed. It is essential to respect authority.

LEVEL 3: Post-conventional Morality: The moral principals that underlie the conventions of a society are understood. Kohlberg believed that only a small percentage of adults reach this stage.

AGE: After 20 years

         STAGE 5: Social Contract Orientation. Rules needed to maintain the social order should not be based on blind obedience to authority but on mutual agreement. The rights of the individual must also be protected.

         STAGE 6: Universal Ethical Principle Orientation. Moral decisions should be made in terms of self-chosen ethical principles. Once principles are chosen, they should be applied in consistent ways.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO AT ALL STAGES:

* Remember that younger children will respond to moral conflicts differently from older children.

* Take opportunities at home, on the street, wherever they arise in the course of a day, to pose moral dilemmas: “What if the man gave us too much change at the store? What would you do?”

* Approach moral discussions in an open, understanding way, so your child knows he can bring up questions or try out answers without fear of being judged harshly.

* Invite your child to put herself in the position of individuals confronted by moral dilemmas you read about in the newspapers or see on TV.

* Make up stories that involve moral dilemmas. The most famous moral dilemma that Kohlberg used was as follows: A woman was dying of cancer. The one drug that might save her was available at a nearby druggist’s store. It was selling for $2,000. (It actually cost the druggist $200.) The man tried to borrow enough money but could not. He told the druggist his wife was dying, but the druggist would not reduce the price of the drug. The husband broke into the druggist’s store and stole the drug. Should the husband have done that? If so, why? If not, why?

PIAGET’S 4 STAGES OF INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT 

Piaget believed cognitive development followed a continuous but zig-zag pattern. Children don’t jump from one stage to the next. They sometimes use a more advanced kind of thinking and other times revert to a more primitive form. The sequence of progress is the same for all children. But each child proceeds at his or her own rate.

AGE: 0-2 years

STAGE: Sensorimotor

WHAT’S GOING ON
Children acquire understanding primarily through sensory impressions and motor activities. Infants start by exploring their own bodies and senses. After they can walk, they try to touch and manipulate everything so they can develop, through trial-and-error, schemes that begin to explain their world. 

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
The most important thing you can to do to help your child at this stage is to create a safe environment for them to explore. And you must be there to show them the love, consistent care, and affection that enable them to build trust and a secure attachment. 

AGE: 2-7 years 

STAGE: Preoperational

WHAT’S GOING ON
For the first time, the child becomes able to use mental images, symbols and language in their thinking. Imagination takes flight. They are still mostly ego-centric, but they become aware that others may see and feel things differently. The preschooler is becoming capable of symbolic thought and reflective self-awareness. At age three, they begin developing a sense of morality. They acquire the ability to conserve, but are unable to mentally reverse actions. 

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
Talking and reading to your child continues to be as important in this stage as it was when s/he was an infant. Though they are getting bigger, they still need physical affection. Hugs and verbal praise convey the reassurance that they are loved and accepted. This will encourage healthy self-esteem and the confidence to explore and learn. Discuss with them how to solve problems more systematically.

AGE: 7-11 years

STAGE: Concrete operations

WHAT’S GOING ON
Children have begun to think in symbols (“operations”), although their thought processes are still tied to concrete objects and actions. They become less ego-centric and more able to see that others may think and feel and see things differently. They become more logical in using language for problem-solving. Fantasy and reality become separated. Reading opens up new worlds and new ways of coping with common situations. Entering school allows them to learn about rules and cooperation. They make friends and form cliques, first with informal rules, then later with stricter, more sharply-defined rules of belonging, behaving and dressing. They are learning lessons of balancing their needs with others’. They are developing a sense of industry and a sense of self-confidence or inferiority.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
Children need encouragement through the ups and downs of these years. If you let them know that you accept them, no matter how they are doing in school or how they are being treated by other children, they will be able to do better on both fronts. They need structure and consistent discipline at home to help them mature and adapt to the challenges they face in the world with confidence.

AGE: 11-Adult

STAGE: Formal operations

WHAT’S GOING ON
Children are increasingly able to deal with abstract ideas. They understand general ethical principles, such as fairness and justice. They can reason about rules and regulations. They are developing greater independence and a sense of identity. They are becoming self-reflective. Friendships change: single-sex cliques give way to coed groups and opposite-sex relationships.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
It is very important for parents to show that you are listening to them and supportive of them. This demonstrates that you value their ideas and contributions. Acceptance is important, too – teenagers are easily shamed and embarrassed at this age. Children expect a greater degree of equality in their relationships to their parents: everyone needs to adapt and change. If you show them respect for their growing maturity, they will be more likely to keep the lines of communication open between you during this period of enormous physical, intellectual and emotional change.

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