Developmental Stages In Our Life

According to psychologist Erik Erikson (1960’s), there are 8 psychological stages that we all go through in our life. Understanding these stages helps you understand what you and the people around you are going through.

According to the theory, when you complete each stage successfully, you develop a healthy personality and develop psychological strength.

But if you don’t pass through a stage successfully, you may develop an unhealthy sense of self and trouble with the stages that follow. However, you can work on resolving that stage successfully later in your life, through counseling for example.

According to psychologist Erik Erikson, the following are the 8 developmental stages.

Trust vs Mistrust

This stage is from Birth to about 1 1/2-years-old. This is where we learn if our world is trustworthy or not. If a baby cries because he’s hungry and his mom feeds him, he learns that his needs can be met. If he cries and his needs are not met, he learns that this world is not trustworthy. Infants that are severely neglected actually stop crying after a while because he learns that his needs are not going to be met.

Successful completion of this stage teaches us hope that our needs will be met. If this stage is not completed successfully, the child learns that the world is unpredictable and has a sense of mistrust. This could turn into anxiety later on.

Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt

1 1/2-3-years-old. At this stage the child is learning that they can be more independent. If you’ve ever been around a 2-year-old, you that that their favorite words are “mine” and “me do it”.

If children in this stage are encouraged and supported in being more independent, they become more confident and secure.

But if children are criticized or not given the opportunity to assert themselves, they begin to feel inadequate in their ability to survive, and may then become overly dependent upon others, lack self confidence and feel a sense of shame or doubt in their own abilities.

Initiative vs Guilt

Age 3-5, kids begin to be more assertive. During this stage the primary feature involves the child regularly interacting with other children at school. Playing is how they learn in this stage, not only learning cognitive skills but interpersonal skills as well. At this stage kids ask a lot of questions.

If a child is supported and is allowed to explore, they learn to show initiative.  If not, they can develop a sense of guilt.

Industry vs Inferiority

5-12-years-old. It is at this stage that the child’s friends will start to have more importance and will become a major source of the child’s self esteem. Kids now feel the need to win approval from others and begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments.

If they’re enforced in taking initiative, they feel confident. If not, they can develop a sense of inferiority.

Identity vs Role Confusion

Oh the wonderful teen years. From 12-18-years-old, at this stage, teens are trying to figure out the big question, “Who am I ?” Kids change clothes styles, listen to different types of music, and want to explore different activities and jobs. This can be a very confusing time since there are so many changes going on at the same time; socially, physically, and emotionally.

Allowing teens to explore what they’re interested in helps them figure out what they want when they get older. Of course, they still need boundaries from parents.

Parents should talk to them as a person, not talk at them. Explain that what they’re going through is normal, and this will help them outgrow this stage in a healthy way.

Successful completion of this stage will give the teen a better sense of who they are as a person. What their own views of life are.

If it’s not completed successfully, the teen will grown confused about who they are as a person and what their own values are. They easily follow or fall for other people’s  opinions and views since they don’t have a strong sense of their own.

Intimacy vs Isolation

18-40-years-old. This is where young adults start to focus on relationships. Dating and finding a life partner is the major focus. Also, figuring out what career you want to be in is another focus.

Successful completion of this stage will allow a person to feel intimate with others. While it may cause a feeling of isolation if it’s not.

Generativity vs Stagnation

40-65-years-old. During middle adult hood, career is the focus. The goal is to be more stable in your relationships and careers. We start to give back to society and share our wisdom with others.

If this stage is not successfully completed, a person might feel stagnant, as if they haven’t accomplished anything in their life.

Ego Integrity vs Despair

65-years-old and up. This is thought to be the final stage where we look back at our lives and reflect. If you feel accomplished and good about your life, you get a sense of integrity, proud of all that you’ve done. But if you look back with regret, it may cause you to feel despair.

These stages  explained here are very general, but hopefully it’ll give you a better understanding of the different stages we go through. Of course a lot of factors go into whether or not the stages are completed successfully or not, such as personality, environment, and cultural influences.

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About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.



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