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Erik Erickson’s Theory in Child Development

Erickson, a psychoanalyst and psychologist, introduced his Psychosocial Development theory in the 1950s. The theory holds that every child goes through eight psychosocial evolution stages. The stages are divided into three levels: four in childhood, one during adolescence, and three in adulthood. However, each step relates to the previous one, and the development order is fixed. The stages are influenced by social, psychological, and biological factors in a person’s lifespan (Orenstein & Lewis, 2021). Therefore, if a child’s development from one stage to another influences psychosocial development within the next stage, the theory significantly influences their education development. When a child’s willingness and individual to work with others is fulfilled, purpose emerges. Children who receive encouraging messages and ideas from their teachers and parents develop belief and competence feelings in their academic and educational skills.

Education aims at cultivating a person’s development in every essence. During infancy, children develop virtues of hope, and parents need to build and nurture that virtue. This ensures that they are full of courage and hope to face the future. While at school, they can utilize this virtue to enhance their spirit of active endeavor. Children need to have industrial and independent personalities from their early childhood to develop the habit of working and studying hard. During adolescence, the teachers must cultivate children’s loyalty virtues, ability to be loved and loved, and stick to identity (Sun & Sun, 2021). These virtues are critical in a child’s academic performance and enhancement of their future aspirations. A child’s independent and industrial personality also ensures that they become more creative and innovative at school or educational institutions. They develop different and active interventions whenever they face academic challenges.

Although Erikson’s theory primarily focuses on psychological development, it also significantly relates to physiological aspects of development. The model extends psychological development to a person’s entire life. It also connects an individual’s crises and core tasks of every stage to focus on the future while also considering the past (Orenstein & Lewis, 2021). This provides parents and teachers with the basis to implement their educational foundations and acts in each stage. Teachers can look back at the previous step and how successful it was to determine how to handle the next developmental stage. It shows that educators can use the theory to guide family, social, and school education.

The first five stages are especially crucial in a child’s education development since it includes the evolution from childhood to adolescence. This is a stage where children learn and develop their social, emotional, physical, and, most significantly, cognitive skills. The theory argues that one stage’s outcome is fixed as the next stage is engaged. Therefore, when one advances to the next psychosocial stage, the preceding stages must be reintegrated and questioned (Sun & Sun, 2021). For example, suppose a child within the autonomy and trust stage does not develop a sense of belief and trust in their skills. This will significantly affect their academic levels in the next stage because they will possess low self-esteem and confidence in their academic and education capabilities. Thus, as educators must consider the previous stages as the foundation of a child’s education development, they must also ensure that they successfully develop in their initial stages to move to the next stage.

The Industry vs. inferiority stage is also central to a child’s educational development and academic success. In this stage, children develop cognitive abilities that they can utilize in critical thinking with the desire to acquire knowledge, use technology, imagine, and build. Therefore, children’s competence sense enables them to learn survival skills in their culture and society (Batra, 2013). This shows that every step represents a critical stage that actively prepares students to use and develop crucial educational and life skills. They can use these skills and strategies to navigate through academic challenges. They learn ways which they use to survive and understand the role of hard work and its purpose and results. They apply these skills in academic work and become resilient even when they seem to be failing in their education. Also, the skills possess vital elements such as purpose, will, and hope. These are significant elements in a child’s educational development.

In conclusion, education is not something that is achieved overnight. Therefore, parents and teachers need to ensure that their children are ready for academic achievement and success by completing each step before moving to the next level. The theory argues that each psychological stage continues the previous one in space and time. Moral and subject education should respect and follow individual growth laws, be carried out systematically, and teach in stages and plans. For example, parents and teachers should observe a child’s interests and ensure that they encourage them to do what they enjoy from their childhood. This leads to nurturing of talents. It is more encouraging for an educator to encourage a child to pursue their interests than to make them learn more difficult knowledge. However, in adolescence, teachers should work to develop a communicative relationship that enables children to follow their instructions toward academic knowledge.


Batra, S. (2013). The psychosocial development of children: Implications for education and society — Erik Erikson in context. Contemporary Education Dialogue10(2), 249–278.

Orenstein, G. A., & Lewis, L. (2021, November 14). Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from

Sun, X., & Sun, T. (2021). Research on lifelong education based on Erikson’s psychosocial development theory. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research582(2021), 267–270.


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